Last month, my life partner and best friend passed away from a journey with cancer. Words cannot describe the pain and sorrow I feel constantly. The word "lost" best describes my life at this moment and I find myself walking around in circles hoping I will wake up from this dream state and my life will go back to normal. Unfortunately, reality says otherwise and my new life does not include the beautiful man that was a part of my life for the last seven years.
The following is my final entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 12: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Step 12 is found in Chapter 7 (Working With Others), page 89 through page 103 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking (relapsing into addiction) as intensive work with other alcoholics (others with like addictions). This is our 12th suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you – to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.”
The following is my eleventh entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
The following is my ninth entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 9: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Step 8 and 9 are combined in the literature and are found in Chapter 6 (Into Action), page 76, third paragraph through page 84, second paragraph of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. This time we will focus on Step 9 which is the step where we actually clean up our past so we can go forward into freedom.
The following is my sixth entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 6 is found in Chapter 6 (Into Action), first paragraph on page 76 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. “We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can God now take them all – every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.”
The following is my fifth entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 5: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Step 5 is found in Chapter 6 (Into Action) page 72 through page 75 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. In step 4 we discovered the deeper causes in our nature that were creating our problems. Now we need to start the process of healing by telling them to another person. We have to stop hiding from life and others, we have to finally find the courage to remove our mask and be entirely honest with another person. The book gives the reason why this is so important on page 73; “More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. They are very much the actor. To the outer world they present a stage character. This is the one they want others to see.” This mask or “stage character” is the lie that is presented to the world and the alcoholic is terrified that the lie will be discovered. This makes for a life of constant fear and tension which empowers the addictive behavior.
The following is my fourth entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 4: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Step 4 is found in Chapter 5 (How It Works) page 63, last paragraph, through page 71 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. We are to take a personal inventory in order to “face, and be rid of, the things in ourselves which have been blocking us. Our addiction is but a symptom. We had to get down to causes and conditions”. Searching and fearless means thorough and honest. We cover our entire life, past and present, leaving nothing out, exhausting everything we can bring to consciousness. Having set a firm foundation in Step 3, we now have the courage and strength to look within and shine light on the true causes of our problems. What we discover we write down. We search through every emotional aspect of our lives, resentments (anger), shame/guilt (I am a bad person/what I did was bad), fear (stress, tension, anxiety, terror) and all of our life situations: relationships (sex/people/institutions), work/career (people and institutions), finances (beliefs and fear around money), spiritual (God/religion), health (physical/mental health problems). We look at our life events, real and imagined, how and why we were threatened by what we believed was happening, and how our actions and reactions created or contributed to the destructive outcome for ourselves and others.
The following is my third entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
In Step 2 we came to believe (see previous blog), now we make a commitment. Continuing our reading in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, we find Step 3 in chapter 5 (How It Works) on page 63. It takes the form of a prayer: “God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always.” The wording is optional as long as it expresses the idea. I find this to be a beautiful prayer and very effective when voiced with conviction.
The following is my second entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 2: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
In step 1, discussed previously, we discovered that we were hopelessly powerless to stop using a substance that was destructive to our lives. We were strangely “insane” in that we couldn't or wouldn't stop using a substance that was poisoning our physical and emotional health and ruining all that we held dear in life.
Recently while watching the morning news, I heard a story about two climbers who ascended a vertical rock, the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Known to be the one of the most difficult rocks to scale with few footholds and ropes being used only for when climbers fall, family, friends, and supporters from around the world watched and waited for 19 days as these men reached the half-mile summit. When interviewed about their experience, one of the climbers responses “I hope it inspires people to find their own Dawn Wall.”