Happy Saturday! Now get your butt out of bed because it’s time for the Saturday Morning Superpower Archives where we make our spiritual toolkit look like superpowers. Go ahead, take a minute to put on your cape.
I talk to a lot of newer sober people (and a lot of not so new sober people) who seem to have this impression that the steps are something we do once in Alcoholics Anonymous, or something we do once a year, or something we do when the proverbial ‘you know what’ hits the fan.
I understand that mentality. When I got here I sat down with my notebook, my pen, my sponsor, and my long mental list of resentments and I got ready to dive into the action of cleaning up the wreckage of my using life. But for me, it was like a homework assignment. I did it to the best of my ability, but I did it with the mentality that I needed to get through it so that I could get on with (or get back to) all of the really important things I had going on when I got here (read: doing lines in my closet, cleaning up spilled box wine from its tipped over position on the floor next to the bed, avoiding men with handcuffs in dark black uniforms and squad cars, and finding my way home after accidentally arriving in other states with random people I didn’t know.)
It took a while for me to get the jist of how the steps were going to be working in my life. The understanding came from people saying things like, “Sit all the way down in A.A.” and “We don’t work the steps, they work us.” In other words, as Victor Frankl says in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, I started to realize that it didn’t really matter what I expected from (sobriety–he says life), it mattered what sobriety expected from me. Because of many very strong & wise women who grabbed a hold of me in my early sober days and held on, I learned to stop waxing on about the randomness of life and instead grab onto the specifics of action. It wasn’t, how do I feel, but it was, what can I do about how I feel.
A lot of people have stories about how nice their sponsors were to them when they got here. That’s my story too–sort of. I mean they said a lot of nasty things to me.
~Sit in the front of the room because you have a hearing problem.
~Oh honey, no one really cares what you think.
~Shut up and listen; your feelings are irrelevant.
~I don’t have time for this (referring to me opening my mouth), I’m busy. I have a life. Why don’t you open up the Big Book and read pg. (whatever) and then call me back.
~No honey, I don’t call you. You have to call me. I don’t want what you have.
~ Sweetie, in Alcoholics Anonymous we don’t wear the same dirty overalls every day. We don’t talk like a truck driver. We wear a dress when we get behind the podium. Get some respect for yourself.
Uhhhh…..ok, well, that’s a tall order, but let me see what I can do since I haven’t seen a dress in like 7 years.
Anyway, the point is (and I’m going back to Frankl here for a minute) “Our answers must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems.”
That’s what the steps do. They provide a path to connect with a power greater than ourselves by assessing where we’re at, what messes we’ve made, how we can begin to clear away the wreckage and then humbly ask what it is that life (or sobriety) wants from us.
If your notebook has been on the shelf for a while and you’ve been moving along in cruise control, it might be time to shake the dust off. Keeping recovery in the center of our life is about more than going to a lot of meetings. It’s about how we think, how we act, and how we engage with life itself. Sit all the way down, and have an amazing day!