Friday, October 7, 2011
The Twelve Steps According to Hapless Tigger
The following is MY interpretation of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I do not see them as dogma. They are not the "word of God" as handed down from on high. They are simply TOOLS. I find them useful as a way to relearn how to cope more effectively with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (ie, life). As tools, they are useful as a means to bringing me peace of mind--it's the peace of mind that keeps me sober. (Some may be offended that I've kind of "updated" the language of the Steps--but I needed to, to make them work for me. The current language is, shall we just say, intellectually unpalatable to me personally.) Your own mileage may vary.
1. I have finally had to accept--as in, fully grok it--that I'm just one of those people who can't drink. All attempts to successfully moderate my drinking have failed over the long term. So, I finally accept that I have had to chuck it. Put the stuff down; leave it alone; it never serves me well, and it winds up making all my problems worse. Me and my big ego have no power over this stuff. My own self-will and wishes aren't enough.
2. If I'm not big enough to control what alcohol does to me, maybe something else out there--anything that is NOT me (because I have failed at it numerous times)--can help me get a handle on this.
3. I am willing to suspend my skepticism and outright disbelief long enough to have hope that there is something greater than me and my own will operating in the Universe. I sure as heck don't understand it, and physicists sure are positing some interesting things nowadays, but I'm pretty sure my life wasn't meant to be spent being hungover half the time and staring at the bottom of a shot glass the rest of the time. There's got to be more than this. There is some reason we are here.
4. I reexamined my life--my words, my actions, my decisions--with a willingness to admit to fault with an eye towards not repeating my same mistakes. This isn't an exercise in beating myself up, though: I was not always at fault, and more often was only partially at fault, and this exercise opened my mind and heart up to the idea that we are all imperfectly yet wonderfully human. There is much to learn about myself, about human nature, and better ways to cope with this world if I do an honest appraisal of what has happened to me in the past. Plus, when I do this, I can finally set things down and let them go. And I gain the wisdom of learning from my experiences rather than just obsessing about them all the time to no end.
5. I had a frank discussion with my sponsor about my 4th step work and what I've found out. She's a good coach: she could see the places where I was being too hard on myself or, alternately, too easy on myself, and she could see the places where I needed to turn over a few more rocks and dig a little deeper. We were both able to clearly see where my own values did not align with my words and actions, and I finally understood that most of what drives me crazy and has driven me to drink in the past is when I'm living hypocritically or am scared to death or resentful about something.
6. Silly me! Well, I have faith that I can start living in a sane, rational manner, and if I'm stuck, then I have faith that something will help me work things out in a productive way as opposed to a destructive way.
7. When I'm stuck, I ask for help.
8. If I'm going to start over with a clean slate, then I need to set things right with those I have harmed. This makes us all feel a lot better.
9. I do so, wherever possible (unless my entry into their lives would be more destructive or disruptive or do more harm than good).
10. I continue 4th Step work for the remainder of my days, because it's just a gosh darn good way to check in with myself and make sure I'm not harboring fears or resentments or acting in ways that don't align with my values. I keep my side of the street clean. My life rocks!
11. I continue searching for meaning in my life, which for me personally, has a lot to do with serving others (which is why I teach for a living. It brings me great satisfaction).
12. I've been sober for over two years now, and I feel much, much better than I did when I was using. When people ask me for help, I give it, and I freely share my own experiences in the hopes it may help others. I blog like a maniac. This is 12th Step work to me.
Sacrilege to some; freedom for others.