Introduction to The Twelve Steps in Everyday Living

I should have written this post two months ago, but the subject is on my mind, so it will have to fall into the category of “better late than never.”

Did you ever go to the gym and observe the different motivations present?  Some, like myself, go in, head down, do what we really don’t want to do, but know we have to, and are at our happiest when the workout is done.  Others seem genuinely happy to be moving their bodies, making the best use of the physical gifts given to them.  Still another set, perhaps a more mature generation, are there with purpose, looking to maintain… weight, flexibility, endurance, they are seeking to hold on to what they have.  And, of course, there is the group that are there to push their limits, to pursue greater and greater physical goals.

You will find this same scenario almost anywhere you go… church, work, school, even the grocery store.  In each case, the players are all presumably doing the same thing (exercising, praying, working, studying, shopping), but, because the motivation is so vastly different, the experience and outcome vary widely.

And so it is in recovery.   Everyone sitting in an AA meeting has the same ostensible goal, sobriety.  But ask each person in that same meeting what sobriety means to them personally, and you will probably get as many answers as there are people in the room.  For some, simply putting down the drink or drug is the period at the end of the sentence.  Once they have stopped ingesting mind-altering substances, the game is over, and they have won.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum:  for some, sobriety is taking every element of their 12-step program to the extreme.  These people will frequent 12-step clubhouses, hang out there between meetings, take advantage of every service and social opportunity presented, and get involved in the deepest way possible.

Some, like myself, started out with a goal of wanting the alcoholic obsession removed, but in the course of recovery have evolved to loftier goals, things such as serenity and peace of mind.

Of course among these groups lie too many variations to count.  I am not judging any of these variations as right or wrong; as far as I’m concerned, if you are content with your recovery, then I couldn’t be happier for you, however you go about it.

For me, recovery started out as a triage situation:  I needed immediate and severe help.

Once I stanched the flow of blood (metaphorically, of course), I had some decisions to make.  Which direction did I want to take my recovery?  I could clearly see the paths in front of me, as I have witnessed all sorts of recovery variations, both in the rooms of AA, as well as in the blogging world.  Do I want to go “all in” with recovery, and become the poster child for AA?  Or do I feel like I’ve gotten all I needed from the 12-step program, and now it is time for me to stand on my own two feet?

My thought process, in making this decision, was simple:  the heart of the AA program, or any 12-step program, are the steps themselves.  When I was taught these steps, I caught on, even while learning them, that they are more than just about putting down the drink or drug.  The steps are meant as a blue-print for life:  follow them to the best of your ability, and you will never need to pick up a mind-altering substance again.   As I put them into practice, I had clear proof that they are helping me live a better life, not just because it is a sober one, but because the overall quality is better than it ever had been before.

Since I have seen the 12 steps work for others, and I can feel the 12 steps working in my own life, my answer was simple:  keep what is working in my life, and use what is working to fix what is not.  So my goal is to use the 12 steps to improve all areas of my life.  I have many examples where I have succeeded, and I try to chronicle them in the series I am writing on Fridays.  I have much progress to make, but I am human and so it is all about the progress, rather than the perfection.

So, short story long, I firmly believe that everyone can benefit from the application of the 12 steps to their lives.  Whether you are an alcoholic or not, there is much in this life over which we are powerless, there is much that causes discontent, and so there is much work to be done to restore all of us to sanity.  It is certainly not a magic potion, nor is it a one-time cure, like a vaccine.  Rather, it is like learning a trade:  once you know what to do, you just need to do it.  Like exercising a muscle, the more you do, the stronger it gets.

Alright, enough analogies already!

Today’s Miracle:

I know it will soon get old, but I am loving stepping outside into ninety degree weather… summer is here in Pennsylvania!

Posted on May 30, 2013, in Twelve Steps in Everyday Living and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Very nice post. I don’t know where my life would be today without the 12-steps. Oh wait, I do know….Let’s just say “Sobriety Saved My Life”. Blessings to you!


  2. When i went to AA it was because my suicide didn’t work out like i’d planned and so i literally had not other place to go to avoid drinking. At fist, like you said, i used it as a place not to drink; like a weekly reminder that i was a sober person. But after i started working the steps with a sponsor, i realized i’d been looking for AA my whole life. In organized religion, in relationships, in the bottle…the peace of mind and sense of purpose i’d been looking for my whole life was in the rooms and i realized i am *lucky* to be an alcoholic because i don’t know where else i could have found the serenity i’m now approaching a little closer every day.


  3. Great stuff as usual, Josie. Really hit it home there for me, as I have been struggling with this recovery / too much recovery / fear of not doing recovery balancing act lately. Like you and Al, I just wanted to not drink anymore. I didn’t want the suicidal thoughts, I didn’t want the pain, I didn’t want my life to continue going down the drain. But what I found was much more – the design for living I craved for all my life. And so I went at it tooth and nail. It’s only now that I am letting off the gas a bit, trying to take the scenery in and not try to be the poster boy for AA anymore. I am ok with that, and ok to just live a life that I was meant to live. And of course, AA will always be there. It has to – its a new way of life, integrated. But I just recently saw that I can’t be going full tilt the way I was any more. Life is a beautiful thing now and I don’t want to miss it. I still get goosebumps when I work with a new guy and I know that meetings and talking to others and being in the middle of the pack is important.

    Wonderful, wonderful post. I hope newcomers could read this.



  4. J: I see what you mean. Great blog and post! JC


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