Good morning and happy Monday! I was struggling with a blog idea this morning but I had the itch to write. I usually choose between 3 topics; witchy stuff, sobriety/recovery stuff, or life in general stuff. I was pondering the things I talk about with people on a daily basis and I kept coming back to the questions people ask me who aren’t in the program. Then I started thinking about how much the steps have started to transform my life. I will let you in on a little secret…the 12 steps aren’t just for drunks and druggies!
Yes, the 12 steps have been used for ages to help people conquer alcoholism, drug addiction, quitting smoking, getting over heartache, etc. What the 12 steps really are though is a design for living your best life. Who doesn’t want that? I am going to present to you the 12 steps and a road map on how to use it even if you are a normie (non-addict). By the end of working a 12 step program you will have a spiritual awakening and feel the weight of the world lifted off your shoulders. This is how it’s done (some editing has been done to remove words like “addiction, alcoholism, etc. for the purpose of making it relatable to life as a whole).
1.) We admitted we were powerless – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Ahh, beautiful and burdensome step 1. Nobody has their life all together no matter who you are. There will always be something that seems unmanageable whether it’s your finances, your stress level, your children, your husband, or your job. We always have room to admit things aren’t going as well as they could be. Even if your life is peachy fuckin keen there is always room for growth and change. You might even feel your life is completely well managed until you start working the steps and realize it wasn’t. All you have to do for this step is admit to yourself there is room for improvement.
2.) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
I know what you are thinking, “who does this bitch think she is telling me I am insane and only a higher power can restore me to sanity?” What I think is I am a person who struggled greatly with this step and the next but I kept working on it day by day and life feels a lot less insane when I know I can rely on something greater than myself to help me through. All you need in this step is to be open minded. Do not slam the door on me yet.
3.) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
“Oh, now this bitch wants to start bible thumping and shoving religion down my throat!” WRONG. The 12 step program is a SPIRITUAL PROGRAM, not a religious one. We use the word God because it is the best adjective we have in our language to universally explain a higher power. I don’t care if your higher power is a tube sock….call it whatever works for you. All you need in this step is to be willing. Have you ever heard people use the phrase “let go and let God?” That is what this step is about. It is about understanding that you are merely a character in the play of life. Things are going to happen and you cannot force life to do your bidding. This is where your willingness comes in. I tell myself about 50 times a day under my breath “thy will be done” and it helps me coast through the day with a fraction of the stress I used to have.
4.) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
The DREADED step. This is where we get into the leg work of the program. This step is messy, uncomfortable and necessary. Our personal inventory is like a backpack of bricks we have been carrying around our whole life. It’s time to open it up, take a good look at it, reflect on it, accept it and embrace it as a part of us. Your inventory needs to include all the messy details. Childhood traumas, heartbreaks, resentments you are carrying around, broken fragments of your soul that are still floating around aimlessly inside of you. If you are still thinking about it, include it in your inventory. Nothing should be left out. Are you still mad at Susan from 2nd grade who bullied you? Yep, she goes on the list. Write out your life story and you will find that your backpack of bricks has been weighing you down without you even noticing it. All you need for this step is your memory, a pen and paper, and grit.
5.) Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
I know right? You would rather stick a fork in a light socket. But this is the most important follow up on your 4th step you can do. This is laying down the backpack of bricks so you can walk freely without that weight. Have a talk with your higher power first. Gather your wits and ask for strength. Find a trusted human to read your 4th step to. I suggest not having it be a spouse or someone that will be personally offended by any of your inventory. This will create a situation that is uncomfortable for all parties involved. All you need for this step is bravery and honesty.
6.) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
If you are still with me CONGRATS! The next few steps are a nice little reprieve before we get into some more meaty ones. This step can usually be done in a short period of time. Read your inventory and accept that it is time to remove your defects. All you need for this step is acceptance.
7.) Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
The keyword here is “humbly”. If you successfully did your 4th step you have probably been knocked down a few pegs anyway and are feeling quite humble so this is the perfect time to ask God, the Universe, your tube sock, whatever to remove your shortcomings. Some things that can be considered short comings are the gift of gab, gossiping, lying, cheating, poor time management, over-spending, over-eating, etc. Nothing is off limits. If you consider it a shortcoming, ask your higher power to remove it. Make sure to thank your higher power at the end. All you need for this step is to ask.
8.) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
We have all screwed someone over big or small. Maybe it was as simple as an argument over the remote and maybe it was as big as cheating on them. Whatever it is, it’s time to pull your head out of the sand and face it. Write it all down. All you need for this step is honesty and reflection.
9.) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
You heard me! This is even more uncomfortable than your 4th step but it is something that HAS to be done if you are truly going to awaken and be the best version of yourself possible. Take your list and work your way down. Ask someone out for coffee and explain what you are doing and how you would like to make amends. Even if the moment was long ago and even if you have both moved on. This is a cleansing part of the 12 steps that you will be grateful for after it’s done. If the 4th step was a backpack of bricks, this is a fanny pack of rocks. Time to unbuckle that sucker and lighten the load more. If you cannot make direct amends, making living amends. This is where you learn from what you did and live in a way that shows you are different and learned from it. All you need for this step is humility.
10.) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Self explanatory. You don’t just get to do one 4th step and go on your way. You have to do a little 4th step every single day. Make sure you’re inventory is in line and clean. If you are wrong, fix it. Simple as that. All you need for this step is reflection.
11.) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
This is a maintenance step. It’s a reminder to keep in contact with your higher power, continue practicing self-care and love and continue asking for love and support from your HP. All you need for this step is communication and self love.
12.) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
THANK SWEET 8 POUND BABY JESUS YOU MADE IT! Now go plant the seed to others. Spread love. Carry your message to other broken souls who might not even realize they are broken a little inside.
In AA and NA we have sponsors to help walk us through these steps. Us addicts need a little push here and there and a little more guidance because we are battling a terminal illness and disease. Our lives literally depend on the 12 steps. I hope after reading this though you see how your life can benefit from them as well.
Take care of yourselves out there and if you need a spiritual sponsor my door is always open.