Here we experience the great truth:
When we let go of our control of others and simply allow HP to serve others through us, we receive an abundance of joy and strength.
The 12th step within is a term that is used quite frequently in another 12 step program that I am a member of. I will share it with you here. We have found that addiction is a dis-ease of isolation. We need to work with others and each other to support our joint efforts of recovery. This is a WE program. We cannot do it alone and should not have to. Many seasoned alcoholics need you as much as you need them. We cannot rest on our laurels or take for granted that being dry is ever just enough. We need to continue to be teachable and honest, open, and willing to learn more each day. The 12th step within movement encourages us to reach out to old timers who may not be able to drive anymore, or who are home bound. Also, we need to remember to reach out to people who no longer attend meetings, are struggling with life events, or who have been hospitalized for health reasons.
The 12th step is not just about working with newcomers. We all need support and compassion. Life is not all sugar plums and sweets. Over the last 31 years, I have experienced many tough situations to deal with: disability, job loss, housing problems, chronic pain, deaths in my family, etc. It has not been a bed of roses. But, nothing...absolutely nothing is worth drinking over. The love and compassion of people in AA, etc. kept me alive and involved in life when all I wanted to do is jump off the face of this earth. They were 12 Stepping me. Those things I may have done for them in the past, came back to me 10 fold when I needed them the most. 12th Step within is like a big old group insurance policy. We pay in our fair share for many years. When a catastrophe happens, that person involved can draw from it what he/she needs. No one is left wanting. We just trust that it will be there for us when we are hurting. Be a part of the solution. Call someone who needs your support. It will mean the whole world to them and you.
Where ever I go; there I am. ~ Anon
It is said that we are the common denominator to all of our life’s problems. Now, that is a no brainer! Much of what happens in my life is a direct or indirect result of what I decided to do or not do beforehand. That reaction could be negative, positive or just plain old neutral. But, there will be karma, baby. I used to be afraid of karma. But, that was when I had a reason to be afraid. We do get back what we give out. How we act and react is certainly our choice. I just offer this: be careful of what you choose and what you pray for. Here is a few more questions on Step #12:
- How do you usually handle conflict? Do you know of any way to be more effective in conflict resolution? If so, how would you become more effective?
- What would be the steps?How much time do you want to and are able to allow for working with others on their program?
- How will you go about setting that time aside?What outside resources can you call on when you need help as a sponsor?
I still do not like conflict, but I have learned to wait 24 hours in response to someone else’s anger or conflict with me. Meantime, I pray, write, read, and then ask my sponsor for direction. It usually isn’t about me. People get stressed out in service, and it spills over onto co-service providers. I devote a lot more time for service work these days, but then, I am retired. I still wonder how people can fit 40+ hours into a week for work. Ha ha. Just remember balance: work, play, and rest equally. I suggest you involve your sponsees in service work right away. Busy hands and mouths have no time to dwell on the obsession and the negatives. Outside sources may include professionals and treatment centers. There is no harm in knowing when things are over your head and outside your limits. In fact, that makes you a better sponsor. Of course, the best outside source is HP. He’s got this, you know.
Service is the rent we pay to be on this earth. ~ Anon
Let’s look at how we are doing when it comes to Step#12. A personal review now and then is healthy for even the most seasoned AA member. Here are a few questions to help you:
- Have you been able to reach out to another recovering addict? If
so, describe the situation and how it feels to you.
- What kind of approach would you like to have had when you first started the program? How can you implement that type of approach in your life to others now?
- What would you say if someone asked how the 12 Step program has worked for you.
My experience in reaching out to another alcoholic has been inspirational to my recovery. I would say that the more I give, the more I get back 10 fold. And, the words I say to someone come back to me at the very time I need them the most. We give freely what we were freely given.
When I first started in AA, the people I met were very loving and accepting of me. Of course, the hugs hurt, and I was suspicious of their motives. Their humor was much needed. I felt a part of; where I had never felt that way before. These days, I usually give new people my number, a meeting list, and a copy of the Big Book. I ask them to call anytime. Beyond that, I do not push or pull them in any one direction. I firmly believe HP has got this!
When asked how AA has worked for me, I can testify to:
31 + years of sobriety.
A whole cadre of loving friends that I call family.
Service/serenity/recovery on all three levels: spiritual, physical, and emotional.
A life of useful purposefulness.
For these and many other things I have found in AA, I will be forever grateful.
I may die with this disease, but I do not have to die of it.” ~ Anon
Here is a test. For the next few weeks, listen to how people read the 12th step in How It Works. Listen carefully. Most folks read “as A result of these steps; not, how it is really written, “as THE result of these steps.” The words of the steps were written so specifically that the message is abundantly clear. After working the 12 steps thoroughly and honestly, our result will be a spiritual awakening. This result would not be one of a number of results, but it would be THE result. This clarifies what we are working toward when we go through the steps to the best of our ability. We are trying to have a spiritual awakening which will allow us to stop craving and using alcohol. Certainly, that is the result we were seeking when we got here. Right? From that spiritual awakening, all else will blossom and grow. All that we need in life will follow in due course.
The acronym for the word Trust = Totally Relying Upon Step #12. Trust is a two way street. If I want to be able to trust my sponsor or my HP, I must be trustworthy. It is like the gossip or or sexual cheater: they tend to blame the victim first of the same things they are guilty of. It is called deflection. It allows the person who is doing the gossiping or cheating to feel less guilty of and more justified in their own behaviors. In the 12 Step Recovery Program, we get the chance to live differently. No matter how much we cheated or gossiped (or any other wrongs we may have committed) we now have the chance to right those wrongs and live as an equal among all others. We can now be trusted and believed. We no longer have to blame our victims and avoid our responsibilities. Now, that is what I call a living miracle and a spiritual awakening in the making. Thank goodness for AA.
We have found that service works best when we have no expectations on the outcomes. ~ 12 Step Literature
I find that when there is joy in service, the service provided will be optimal. It serves no one to do things out of pity, people pleasing, or in resentment. The product of such attitudes will surely suffer. I think there is a nut for every bolt. It is up to each person to find what fits for him/herself. One of my first experiences was trying to be a group treasurer. I figured that I am an educated and intelligent person, so surely I should be able to manage a group’s checkbook. Apparently, it takes a bit of math skills! I paid out the contributions and rent costs. And, a few days later, I got notice that all of the checks had bounced. What the….! It turns out that the prior treasurer had written but not recorded some checks still outstanding. I paid the group back for the bank fees, and stepped down promptly. One lesson learned. I no longer offer to do financial work for anyone. In fact, I no longer have my own checking account. The other lesson learned was to have the group’s books audited periodically.
So, I would encourage everyone to figure out what your skills are. What brings you joy? How can you be of service? We give back freely what we were freely given. Most folks will say that just being a sponsor and showing up for meetings is enough. Do you remember that saying “half measures availed us nothing”? We need to get beyond ourselves and our own daily ruts. Jobs to do the group level may include: secretary, treasurer, literature, Grapevine display, greeter/hugger, making coffee, supplies, contact person, newcomer greeter, and leading a meeting, etc. I was told to show up early and stay late. So, for me, it is a two hour commitment and fellowship time, not to just come and go at my leisure. This is a WE program. Not only do we need each other, the group needs you. Be of service.
Ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
~ AA Step#12.
We place principles before personalities. Good gosh, how that concept saved me many a time. In Step #12 we are reminded that no one is in charge, no other alcoholic is the leader or lord and master over any of us at any time, and that we are all just trusted servants. It is so true what they say: the things we hate in others, are the exacts same things we struggle with in our own personalities. I find it helpful to do my daily 10th step inventory as it happens in addition to the daily one done in the morning. If I happen to run into a troubling person in a meeting or while doing service work, I sit down later and try to figure out where I was wrong. Recently, I just finished updating the bylaws for another 12 step group. It took me a lot of time over 10 months to get it right and to gather the information needed from various people. Whew. I was glad to see it done.
As I submitted it for publication, the gatekeeper of the website bulked at the formatting. She had other ideas on how it ought to be written. I was not so happy with that response, so she went around me, and tried to get another board member to veto my submission. Long story short: I got mad, I did my 10th step, I spoke with my sponsor, and then (surpise! suprise!) I prayed. The notion that perhaps the chairperson is responsible for dealing with such things finally dawned on me. I know, I am pretty stubborn. I had to look at my ego issues, perfectionism, controlling, and stubbornness. What is good for the group and what is the group consensus will carry the day. As I let go of that service job, I can let go knowing I did my best, whether or not they redo those bylaws is their business, and I have a G.O.D. that can handle whatever comes as a result. Let go, bide your time and do not let personalities (especially your own) interfere with sobriety.
In step #12, we confirm that we have turned our backs on our old ways of living forever. We are moving in a new direction of spiritual growth. ~ 12 Step Literature
Here are the final steps to review as we move into step #12:
Step #7: Key word is humility. Freedom from self-reliance. We must be willing to humbly ask HP to remove all of our character flaws.
Step #8: Key word is self-discipline. Freedom from blame. We must be willing to admit what harm we have caused and become willing to make amends to them.
Step #9: Key word: unconditional love. Freedom from the fear of people. We must be willing to make direct amends unless it would harm them/others.
Step #10: Key word: perseverance. Freedom from complacency. We must be willing to admit when we are wrong and try to make things right.
Step #11: Key word: Spiritual Awareness. Freedom from loneliness. We must be willing to develop a conscious contact with HP and follow his/her will for us.
Step #12: Key word: service. Freedom from lack of purpose. We must be willing to give back freely what we have been freely given.
What do each of these steps have in common? Two words: must and willing. We must recover, or we will die. It is said that the 12 steps of AA are merely suggestions. True, but if you are in the middle of a storm at sea, it is suggested that you stay in the boat, keep your balance, and keep rowing to shore! Willingness is a key ingredient in recovery. Without willingness on the part of the alcoholic (as a sponsor) it will feel as if you are trying to push a wet noodle up a hill. Slow and messy! Happy rowing!