The thing about the 12 steps is that it actually took me forever to understand exactly what the heck they all meant. Even now with almost 6 years clean I find I’m still diving into their lessons that continue to enlighten me daily. Yes, they totally saved my life. But Jeez, did it ever take me long to “get it” and if you can relate to that don’t feel bad, just keep at it. They say the English language is the hardest language to learn; Well, I don’t think English has anything on the 12 steps.
My challenge to comprehend the steps might have been my deranged brain from all the drugs and alcohol. After all, I could not read or write for quite some time not to mention the complete lack of any understanding of what a “spiritual principle” or a “spiritual awakening” was. I mean for all I knew “spiritual” meant doing whatever you wanted and not caring about what anyone thought, kinda like those hippies at Woodstock right? I was spiritual didn’t you know?
I can remember my first treatment centre when I was 21, a facilitator was telling me “you have to find a power greater than yourself.” I had NO CLUE what she was talking about. Upon instruction to “believe” in something other than my own will, I began to make the mountains my “higher power” because they were “higher” and bigger than me. From the mountains, I moved on to the stars, the moon and the sun. Unfortunately, the mountains and the planets did not keep me clean and sober.
Once I got the first step, for real, everything changed. I surrendered not only to the fact that I knew in every inch of my being I was an addict/alcoholic and my way only led to complete incomprehensible demoralization. Additionally, every time I picked-up I ended up having to surrender to those darn 12 steps anyways! After all, by this point in my life, I had nothing to lose. So, I tried my “nothing to lose” theory out.
I embraced every single step to my greatest and fullest ability at that time, in my last treatment centre, Charlford house. Step Two, Came to believe in a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity, and sometimes it was a “god of my understanding”. Other days it was just good orderly direction and just getting through the next day. It was always people speaking at meetings and the new profound feeling I got from being of service and getting out of myself for the first time in my life.
So I easily did step 3 and handed my will and my life over, and yes obviously taking it back sometimes! (Relationships.) Then 4,5,5,6,7,8,9,10 and my new favorite steps 11 and 12. “Wow!” I thought, “I’ve really made it!” I thought finishing these last 2 steps, since fighting for years just to understand the first 3, was “making it” in life.
Step 11 is, “Sought through prayer and meditation and continue to make conscious contact with God as we understood him…”. Love, Love, Love this step! It is my heart and soul! My daily practice, my everything to create in this life and feel in flow with the universe!
Lastly, Step 12; giving back. The missing piece to my whole existence on this earth, the whole reason I am here. To be of service! Step 12 is my Life force, my purpose and the good of what was once pain, darkness and shame in my life. Step 12 is the alchemy and the true magic I believe in. These are the 12 steps to experience a profound and spiritual experience.
I guess you could call it tough love? Or what? love-hate? I don’t know what you would call this relationship I have with the 12 steps. All though, through the hate and frustration I have felt towards them they’re unconditional and totally forgiving. Even when I’ve walked away from them, even when I’ve forgotten to give back and even when I’ve forgotten to sit in silence. They are always there for me, when I come home and back to what is real and what my truth is.
Therefore, I believe from my personal experience the 12 steps can be awful hard for some folks to understand. I empathize with those people who have had no introduction to spiritual practices previous to being exposed to the program. But I want them to know, it can feel rough but not impossible. It can seem frustrating, exhausting and just plain stupid at times, but I promise you if you seek you shall find. Keep searching and on the other side of the 12 incredulous steps is an incredulous life beyond your wildest dreams.
The 12 steps changed my life, my family’s lives, my friends and my community, and it keeps on rippling out into the world. These steps are the most powerful tool I have encountered to date in regard to personal and spiritual growth. They will work if you don’t give up on them, cause I promise you they will never give up on you no matter how far down you may have fallen. All it takes is some honesty, open-mindedness and a little willingness to take that first step.