Taking the Steps

A few days before I walked into my first AA meeting, I was graced with a vision about what a mess my life had become. A tiny bit of truth had seeped through the thick wall of my denial. In kind of an instant replay I was shown that all the negative events of my life had a common thread: alcohol and drugs. I was allowed to see that flunking out of college, two drunk driving arrests, divorce, financial disasters, job problems, relationship problem -- you name it -- were not just isolated cases of bad luck. They were ominous signs that I was heading in the wrong direction. I had ignored these signs for thirty years, but this vision was so clear and the pain of my life was so great that something inside of me let go. Unknowingly I had taken step one.

Steps two and three were no problem. I got that I needed to change and that something more than human help was required. That left only God. I began the journey of letting God restore me to sanity by committing to take the rest of the steps.

I got good whiff of myself in steps four and five and it wasn't a pretty smell. I became aware of a good-sized list of my negative qualities of character in step six and an honest desire to be changed in step seven. I wanted so much not to return to the pain, frustration and confusion of my old life that I became willing to do steps eight and nine. After serious hand-to-hand combat with my ego, I finally went to those people I had harmed and made my amends. I rode taller in the saddle.

In practicing step ten I saw how my stinking thinking had been robbing me of peace of mind and a chance at real happiness. I reserved a short time first thing in the morning to communicate with a God that I misunderstood. My prayers were mostly "please" in the morning and "thank you" the last thing at night.

As I stood at the doorway to step 12, the little spiritual pilot light inside of me ignited a desire in me to find out what I really am and to discover my true purpose for being on earth. But I was only a few months sober from 30 years of serious drinking. My cells were still saturated with the “ism” of alcoholism -- negative thinking patterns were hyper-active and the voices of self doubt were chattering constantly. Without both parts of step 12 the little flame may have died out.

I needed to begin to pass it on -- not to save another drunk's ass but my own. I didn't own many principles at the beginning, but I began to practice anyways. I suited up and showed up early to set up the chairs. I called other alcoholics every day -- a difficult assignment for an isolator with an inferiority complex. I became willing to listen to what my sponsor and others had to say. I held out my hand to newcomers. I made AA the top priority in my life. In this way I developed the feeling of being "a part of." This feeling is alive in me today. By practicing step twelve I remain a member in good standing. The warm breath of my Higher Power keeps my flame alive.