A little of my STEP 1: once I start using, I can’t stop or control my using. Using controls me. As a result, my life becomes garbage. I’m totally focused on getting & using my substance of choice, coming down when I can’t get more, scheming and planning how to get more – but more is never enough.
A little of my STEP 2: Sitting in a meeting of people like myself while I was still detoxing, I came to believe these other people found a way out, a way to live and function without drugs/alcohol. If I believed in them, then I could get the same results.
A little of my STEP 3: This is a very big step for me. I felt I was on a precipice. Keeping my will and my life solely in my care meant I would again get high. Back to step 1. Back up against the wall. No place to turn. I chose recovery by memorizing, then saying the 3rd step prayer with all the sincerity, passion and intention I could muster. I repeated it morning and night. I felt as though something happened. I felt I made the decision. I added on the end of the prayer: “Higher Power, please have the last trump card. Even when I can’t, when I don’t, or when I won’t, please take my will and life back into Your care.” We began a Partnership.
A little bit of my STEP 4: I am no longer the proprietor of the store. I am now the store keeper, putting on my apron and overalls, pad and pencil in hand, and about to inventory everything on the shelves. I am writing down a list of all I find, the goods on hand, the valuable boxes and the dented cans. No judgement here, just making a list of what I find. The fearless part comes from my third step decision. The searching part comes from guides, sponsor, my life story. Beginning to write takes me there.
A little of my STEP 5: this is the bridge step, the first opportunity I had not only in recovery, but also in life, to let out the real me and let another person in. I refined my inventory from step 4 into a list of the exact kinds of wrongs and rights, assets and liabilities. I owned it all, admitted everything to my sponsor, and that evening again to my Higher Power. I was getting to know myself, and becoming aware of the person I wanted to be. More is revealed in step 6.
A little of my STEP 6: Ok, so now I tried living my life and working my recovery with a spotlight on my flaws and my assets. It was tough. I felt lousy when I didn’t live up to an asset, and very guilty when I acted out on my defects. This thing called a “conscience” came alive. Day after day I became more uncomfortable in my life until I had to surrender once again. The words “all” and “entirely” provide a strong message to me. I couldn’t trim weeds from one area of the garden and expect weeds in other areas not to flourish. I was ready for step 7.
A little of my STEP 7: I was brought to my knees once again. Not by drugs and alcohol this time, but by my own shortcomings. I ask my sponsor if “humbly asked” meant lowering my voice to a deeper pitch? The dictionary described humility as “an accurate perception of the way things really are.” With a deep sense of surrender in my heart, I restated my third step decision which now is a commitment through the seventh step prayer. I am ready for You to have all of me, the good and the bad, the sick and the well, to build with and do with as You will. Please remove every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows.”
A little of my STEP 8: I made a list in three categories – harm I did to myself, harm I did to family and friends, harm I did to business people and others. For the second time in my step work my sponsor says I am making too much of it, that I am not so powerful that I harm every single person I come in contact with. But there are many that bother me, and it is about my part in the relationship. I became willing, as I imagine seeing these people walking into my life and I rehearse my responses.
A little of my STEP 9: Looking up and writing down the definition to every single word in each step, I learn that amends means more than saying I’m sorry. It means doing something to make a wrong right. It means committing to change and not repeating harmful behaviors. It means balancing the scale. The first was to my brother for a loan he cosigned and got stuck with. Having paid him back, I still make regular deposits in his kids mutual funds I started for them. Amends to myself and to my Higher Power are ongoing for life. Change and maintain. After step 9, I could once again go anywhere at anytime and be unafraid of whom I might run into.
A little of my STEP 10: It’s essence is looking at myself honestly, changing, trying to understand another person before being understood – none of these were natural or easy for me. Promptly admitting when I’m wrong made me gag at first, but this step makes it much easier to be me. It’s gotten easier, as I’ve had lots and lots of practice admitting I was wrong. The “Living The Program” pamphlet was how it started – writing my answers until I memorized the questions. The inventory about my program I checked with my sponsor. She agreed with my answers, and offered input in other ways to work this. Step 10 became my slide-rule step – adjusting and correcting.
A Little of My STEP 11: This has remained my favorite step. I start projects like this, writing and sharing my working of the 12 steps and something keeps me committed to finish what I started. I go to the ocean and listen. I raise my heart and ask. I needed help with everything. I was told it is ok to ask for help and relief, and that this is a process and a direction step. The answers to 11 Step prayers are answered in 12.
A little bit of my STEP 12: I always intend to deliver a message that includes step work or the principles of the 12 steps. I could not stay clean and sober until I found a sponsor to work through all 12 steps. I used the tools that make up our program like 90 meetings in 90 days, using the phone, trying to pray like my first sponsor told me, and sharing. I needed the internalization of the first 3 steps, continue to look within and commit to change, make amends and give back. I’ve sponsored over 100 guys, started two NA meetings, ran a rehab meeting for over ten years and ran a hospital detox meeting for ten years until it closed. I was also listed with a parole officer a judge and a doctor as a contact.
I’ve scraped guys off the pavement and taken them to the emergency room. I hate hearing those words, “Harv, you were right” from them when they are close to death. One guy I sponsored for a minute hung himself. It’s a simple message that some just don’t get. Everything in this step is keeping me clean – that is the primary purpose in working it. I don’t get anyone else clean or sober. That’s on them and their Higher Power. I thank God for the gift of recovery and the blessing of another day, involved in 12 step recovery and fellowship.