The steps offer “a big change from a life dominated by guilt and remorse. Our futures are changed because we don’t have to avoid those who we have harmed. As a result…we receive a new freedom that can end isolation.” NA Basic Text p39
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9
I am nowhere near finishing up the 12 Steps in my program. It is a lifetime program. But by following the steps, I have found that I use them not only for staying clean but also in my everyday life. Because of the 12 Steps, I have had to honestly examine my life, admit my wrongs, make amends were necessary and sincerely try to change my behavior daily. We all have done things that we weren’t so proud of that affected people in a negative or harmful way. Our way of dealing with that is usually to avoid the person we harmed. That just feels like a black cloud following wherever you go. Always looking over your shoulder to make sure no offended parties are chasing you down. It’s this type of behavior that makes us become isolated and unapproachable by others. It also makes us feel like we cannot approach God or feel His love for us.
My drugs of choice were alcohol and pain killers. Now many old school NA folks would tell you these are not narcotics and would refer me to an AA meeting instead. However, alcohol is a gateway to other drugs. If I am sober the last thing I want to do is put some mind altering drugs in my system. Drinking not only gets you drunk, it gives you courage. Pain-killers, either prescribed or not, intensify any alcohol related buzz and slowly the problems of life fade away. I also had other addictions as well that did not fall under either AA or NA. This kind of living made me do things that I wouldn’t have done sober and clean. The next day I would feel bad about what happened or wonder what I did if I couldn’t remember. Forget about going into prayer, because I felt I wasn’t worthy enough to approach God and say I was sorry. Alcohol and pain-killers altered my life even after I was clean. Some things became habitual in my everyday life. It wasn’t until the death of my father and a 12 Step program, that I was able to effectively deal with life. Big changes indeed, even though just a very short while ago I left another “wake of Ken” destruction.
One of the steps is to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. This is an ongoing process because I don’t think I could do it all at once. I know I couldn’t because there is just too much there. In my case I took the biggest “defects” in my moral inventory to work on first. Let me make one short note here, your moral inventory wasn’t just all the bad shit. You have to include your good attributes as well because these are your assets. My defects showed me where I hurt others and hurt myself financially. I realized that during my drinking and using, I would put my cravings first instead of that of the people around me. Even after being clean, I would still place myself first before anybody else. It became a self-defense mechanism for me. If I don’t allow myself to fully fall in love I can’t get hurt. If I don’t fully submit to my Higher Power I won’t feel guilty if I screw up. This kind of stuff just doesn’t automatically go away just because you become clean and sober. It’s on ongoing process of dealing with life on life’s’ terms.
I am in the process. I am currently working on my self-righteousness and self-centeredness which are huge character defects for me. Once admitting this to myself honestly, I’ve been able to work through the Steps and begin looking forward to living without guilt and remorse due to my negative actions. I’ve made amends to some of the people I’ve hurt and live life without being self-righteous or self-centered. This has also helped me to deepen my relationship with my Higher Power, God.