12 Steps

12steps800My therapist told me to craft my own version of the Twelve (12) Steps since I am always pointing out the illogic in several of the Steps. I’m not trying to replace AA’s 12 Steps, but rather, formulate my own personal set of steps or guidelines for my own recovery. Each person has a unique recovery program, or at least they should, in my opinion.

  1. Don’t drink! Yes, my program is one of abstinence. A few people in recovery believe they can drink in moderation or controlled, but I’ve already tested out that theory, and it doesn’t work for me.
  2. Work on and achieve acceptance. Accept your disease, but recognize that it’s ok not be happy about it and that you did not aspire to become an alcoholic. It’s ok to hate that word, alcoholic.
  3. Actively participate in AA. Embrace those steps which you believe in, and the fellowship. Discard the rest. Stop analyzing and pointing out deficiencies with AA program. It does no good. Consider reconnecting with your religion (mine is Judaism) to achieve some kind of spiritual foundation, whatever that may be.
  4. Go to private therapy as outlined by your therapist.
  5. Exercise, take care of my body, and eat healthy.
  6. Stay in frequent touch with your sponsor.
  7. Do Steps 4 and 5 of the AA program the way it’s laid out. It’s important to take that personal inventory and clean out all the “baggage.”
  8. Stay away from trigger locations, including bars, certain restaurants, parties and gatherings until I feel 100% confident I can deal with the situation without drinking or craving a drink.
  9. Do the making amends steps 8 and 9 of AA the way it’s laid out. It’s equally important to say your sorry to all the people you have hurt. But you can only do this once you have a solid foundation for recovery or else it’s just words.
  10. Seek rewards and gratification for a job well done and successes through healthy choices and inner confidence.
  11. Forgive yourself of all your past mistakes and focus on the future and the joy and happiness a sober you will bring to yourself and your family.
  12. Try to limit acting like a lawyer in recovery by over-analyzing everything and trying to “out-smart” the disease. Keep it simple. Again, if you don’t drink, you’ve done a good job for the day.

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For me, drinking alcoholically lead to a great deal of private and public humiliation. I have had a hard time dealing with the resulting shame and guilt. This, in turn, contributed to my drinking to escape those bad feelings.

Spiritual growth and real recovery, however, occurs as a result of our failures, not successes. For me, and I would venture to guess a lot of attorneys, I thought I was a “big shot” and better and smarter than most. And because success was the currency of my upbringing, I was always chasing recognition, which in turn, bloated the ego. Thinking I was better than other alcoholics in the room was a recipe for disaster, and a sure path to relapse.

Humility is a critical component of the 12 Step Recovery Program. Step 7 says:

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Bill W. says in the 12 in 12 Book that “the attainment of greater humility is the foundation of principle of each of AA’s Twelve Steps. For without humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all.”

I really like the saying that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less. (~C.K. Lewis). So for me, I need to stop thinking that I am the Center of the Universe, and that I’m more special, smarter and unique from everyone else. I’m clearly not. I also need to stop thinking that my own personal achievements are a barometer for my own self-worth. Somehow, I have to learn that my own self-worth comes from within. This will take time, I know. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks…

My weekly visits to the local detox center and frequent AA meetings are very helpful to ground my humility. For there, I can focus on hearing others’ stories and maybe helping my fellow alcoholic rather than focusing on myself.

Have a great and humble day!

One day at a time…

~Dick

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