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The Twelve Steps in Everyday Living: Part Twelve

Step Twelve:  Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

I can’t believe I’m at the end of this series of posts.  Clichés do exist for a reason:  time really does fly!  It feels like yesterday that I published step one.  But anyway…

Step 12, as I understand it, has a few sub-steps within it.  First, it supposes that by the time you have gotten to this step, you’ve had a spiritual awakening.  Now, I have only been around for a short time, but I have encountered many people, and I have never heard of anyone deny that this is true.  When I first heard the term “spiritual awakening,” I pictured something like being hypnotized, or drinking the Jonestown Kool-Aid… basically, becoming a completely different, more ethereal person.  Now, this may happen for some people, but it certainly did not for me.  I am the same sarcastic, wise-cracking, wife, mother, sister, and daughter that I was before I completed the 12 steps.  There was no lightning bolt, or burning bush, but by the time I had reached step 12, I could honestly say that I had a much deeper relationship with my Higher Power, that my obsession to drink and drug had been lifted, and that I believed God is doing for me what I could not do on my own.

The next sub-step:  carry the message.  Certainly, from a recovery standpoint, the meaning of this portion of the step is self-evident.  As a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, it is my duty and my privilege to teach someone newer than myself what I have learned in the program of recovery.  If someone is struggling, it is my responsibility to reach out a hand and help them, the same way people reached out their hand to me.  I can say that helping others bolsters my own sobriety, possibly even more than the people I am helping.  It keeps me committed, it keeps me honest, and it keeps me connected.

The final sub-step:  apply the same principles within these steps to all aspects of our lives.  Basically, the whole point of me writing this series of blog posts is an extension of this part of step 12; to show that what I have learned through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous really teaches me how to live all aspects of my life.  It helps me when faced with indecision, it helps me to parent more effectively, to communicate more honestly, and to keep my focus on the things I can control, rather than railing against what I cannot.

The point of this step in everyday living is the basic stuff we learned in kindergarten:

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Put things back where you found them.
5. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
6. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
7. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.

-adapted from Robert FulghumAll I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

 These lessons turn into well-known proverbs as we get older:  do unto others, live and let live, but it all boils down to the same thing:  live the best life you can, do the next right thing, and always be available to help another human being.  And, just like recovery, helping someone is a reward in and of itself, and living right is its own reward!


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