I like to buy different versions of step-workbooks, and I still occasionally study them and work through them. It helps me inventory and track how I am feeling by proposing the same questions in different formats. Sometimes it reveals questions that I didn’t know I had, other times it will reveal a hidden pothole I have overlooked, other times, it feels more like a review. But self-examination keeps me close to my authentic-self, and to truth… and these things are part of the personal tool-kit that keep me sober.
As I sit here after ten years of sobriety and only five years post trauma revelations, I still tend to feel pulled to speak directly to people in early recovery. I often write as if I am speaking to the newbie, the chronic relapser, the unsure, the skeptic, or to the timid.
It still amazed me to be reminded of how convoluted and sticky and challenging early sobriety is.
How strenuous it feels and how courageous a person has to be to walk into this fight voluntarily, without having any fight left. I vividly remember my own struggle and my own reluctance that stemmed from my fear of failing and a lack of confidence in my abilities.
After we’re in the groove of recovery it can be so easy to forget how step-one alone is a taxing and monumental accomplishment.
Take a look:
“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction (alcohol, compulsive behaviors, pain, problems) and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
One small step, (except it is really a three component directive with three demanding assumptions).
*Part 1: We.
No biggie. You have been comfortably & miserably isolated for so long, but now you are asked to step into something called “We.” Even American Ninja Warrior plans a course with gradual difficulty. Right out of the gate we are expected to challenge our inner loner. For most of us, (I know for myself), this was torturous and terrifying.
*Part 2: Admitted we were powerless.
We are admitting defeat. Despite being depleted of our sense of worth or self-decency, we tend to hide a slither of pride in allowing ourselves to think that we had some control of this thing. This part asks that we publicly, outwardly, and openly admit defeat and deny our old way of thinking, and that we stop trying to prove to the world that we are in control.
*Part 3: Admitting our lives have become unmanageable.
Shit, if we hadn’t already completely humbled ourselves, we are digging deeper here. Yes, we admit and accept our powerlessness. Now this is us saying that we cannot handle or fix this thing. We are admitting that we cannot band-aid it any more. We are revealing to the world a truth it already knows: Despite really, really, wanting to show the world that we are self-sufficient, we don’t actually have it all together.
I think it is safe to say that most of us courageously approach this step without the ability to fully comprehend the gifts that are coming our way as a result of our willingness.
“Willingness will result in Growth.” (Life Recovery Bible)
God is faithful and will always give everything we give to Him back to us, except when it lands back in our lap it will blow our mind, and it also won’t look the same.
*Part 1: When we step into “we”, we receive support, love, and guidance. We are introduced to the value that lies within a tight-knit community. The Life-Recovery Bible lists these things in its Twelve-Laws of Recovery, telling us that “Connection will result in love,” and “Surrender will result in victory.”
*Part 2: Admitting that we are powerless is the first step in acknowledging a false ego, pride problem. We can’t recover if we truly don’t believe that we are desperately failing through our self-empowered attempts to clean up our lives. The gifts returned for our admission of powerlessness as listed in the Twelve-Laws of Recovery, via the Life Recovery Bible, tell us that “Powerlessness will result in strength,” and “Humility will result in honor.”
*Part 3: We will quickly begin to see that admitting powerlessness isn’t a sign of weakness and it certainly does not make us a victim to our circumstances. This part helps us to clearly uncover how detrimental pride has become in our lives, and it helps us to embrace the idea of living as a human vessel filled with God’s power, shining for others to see the hope that we have found.
I have heard time and again regarding the Twelve-steps, that there are no quick-fixes when it comes to life or life recovery, specifically addiction recovery.
To that I say, “no shit?”
These are not twelve quick & easy to implement steps or twelve magical steps. They are twelve challenges packed full of layered and foreign elements that push against the grain of prideful, self-sufficient human nature.
And there are twelve of them.
It is a brave feat to attempt. Not only do we make the intentional, audacious, choice to give them a go, we do it in front of a group of people.
When I see or hear of someone celebrating a week of sobriety, six months, two-years, or ten, I get excited and I feel proud.
And it doesn’t matter whether a person purposefully practices a twelve-step format or not. I know and recognize their personal sacrifices, their bravery, and their accomplishments.
So if you are considering going all in just know that it will be worth it.
Everything that you give up, walk away from, or trade, will be returned ten-fold.
All that will be given away will be given back.
What God asks that you dig up or get rid of will be replaced.
Everything sown will reap miraculous results.
If you don’t feel seen or recognized, know that God sees what you are doing.
If you aren’t sure if you are brave enough, oh’ my word, know that you going to be okay if you take a chance on yourself.
If you feel like your accomplishments are too small or too little to matter, don’t believe those lies. Tiny steps are steps, and small victories are victories and you are going at your own pace, and that’s okay.
You are courageous for choosing to face your truth, and for being willing to allow God’s truth to challenge and change you.