Saturday, April 16, 2011

My experience with the Steps

A friend was sharing with me yesterday about a conflict she was having with someone that worked with her. I suggested a different approach and she made the statement that she was just a direct person. I thought, how is that working for you? (thanks Dr. Phil) I use to be that person. I would tell it to you straight like it or not even if you didn't ask.

It brought me back to how we have the false belief that we can't change who we are and I know that that isn't true. The Steps changed me completely. After that conversation I watched a sermon on TV that was about labels. He is a very positive speaker so I am open to the message. In my mind God's messages to me are not limited to a specific source and if I pay attention even a billboard can have message for me. So take what you like and leave the rest.

I agreed with the thought that we are limited by the labels and don't even know if the labels are accurate. Labels given to us by other people. We can live up to or down to the labels or we can decide to label ourselves.

It takes work to break out of this mold or even just question if what we were taught is true. I think the 12 steps began this process for me. If I had known it would be such work or the journey would be life long I might not have taken that first step.

The Steps are sneaky. They catch you when you are desperate, Step One. Then right away they make you feel better by giving you hope and comfort, Step Two. By that time, for the moment, you are willing to give up control, Step Three.

This is when you start to wake up and realize you have been your own worst enemy. Bummer. Then the Steps teach you that you have the ultimate power to change yourself and the way you think. To question whether your own thoughts have had your best interest at heart.

It starts off slow and you meet with resistance mostly from yourself and then boom you feel a little freedom. So you move on and then another mental road block, the Step Four. Hate it, yuck can't go around it, looks like a mountain just when you were breezing along but it is too late you have felt the freedom the steps have to offer. So you sit there looking at it for a long time and it is staring back at you. Then someone convinces you it isn't such a big deal so you jump in and they were right it didn't kill you.

You tell someone all the terrible things you have admitted to yourself about yourself and they look at you and they say so what, Step Five. Your not so special nothing on the list that hasn't been on a million other peoples list. The case you have built against yourself has fallen apart and now you can start to let it go.

How do you do this? I am not really sure how it happens but it does. With Step Six you just sit with what you have discovered and decide if you can part with the baggage. Is it possible that everything you thought was fact might have been distorted by your own thinking? It is too much to take it all in at once. Is it possible some of what has happened to you is your own doing? If you can accept this painful truth and want to make a clean sweep you are off to Step Seven.

You decide you really want a new start and you let go. It is humbling to ask for help to admit you don't have the answers. When you do this doors start to open because you are open to a will other than your own. Step Eight is about gathering your thoughts and figuring out if facing those that you have unknowingly or knowingly trampled along the way and would benefit from an apology. More humbling on the way.

You have made it this far and you thought there was nothing more scary than Step Four until you reach Step Nine. OMG! You can't avoid it it is the road to freedom. The response to your amends is not your responsibility. It is getting to the place of being willing to admit what was done that frees you. I think of things that have been done to me and how far even an acknowledgement would go let alone an amends. It is never too late for a sincere apology.

So you have put all out there for everyone to see and your ok with that now. You feel so free without the out dated thoughts of the past, the judgements you made about yourself and others. How do you keep from going back? Step Ten covers that by keeping things current, staying humble every day. Doing the best you can and knowing that everyone else is too. Even though they aren't doing it the way we think they should.

This is where we are going to need help and lots of it. Step 11 is the most important to me because my ego has been in charge up until now and isn't too happy with relinquishing control and will fight to the death to get it back. Literally. I need back up in this area and finding time to really question my thoughts keeps me from slipping back. Lost in the negative banter in my head.

The whole process results in the first of many awakenings Step 12. Some small some life changing. I do my best to pass on the gift of freedom and hope to others. I can't really give it to them but I can show them that it is possible. They have to find their own way. Just as I have found mine.

The Steps have changed me and for that I will forever be grateful. I am constantly running up and down these steps and they have become part of who I am and some days I have start with Step One and begin again.

Disclaimer - My version - Take what you like and leave the rest.


  1. I see many who struggle in Al-Anon, yet they have not worked the steps. I don't understand that. But I am glad that I was willing and did work the steps and continue to do so.

  2. When I look for perfection it slows me down. Doing something is better than doing nothing perfectly.