Give It Away to Keep It

When I first read the 12 Steps on the wall at my first meeting, the ninth step caught my eye. I wanted to do the ninth step immediately with the ex-girlfriend who had unceremoniously dumped me a few months earlier. I wanted to show her what a good guy I was by coming to AA and all. I was sure that she would realize her mistake and beg me to come back.

A couple of months later her name came up on my resentment list. I was taking my fifth step with my sponsor and I shared how I resented her for evicting me from her apartment into the snow in Denver on New Year's Eve. She even threatened to call her building security if I didn't go peacefully. He asked what did I do, what was my part? "I don't know," I said. "You mean you have no idea of what you did that caused her to throw you out?" "No, all I know is I was coming out of a blackout as she was saying, "I don't have to take this crap from you anymore!"

Unless I continue to grow and change I will slip slowly backwards into the cesspool of alcoholic thinking and behavior. Sooner, rather than later, I'll end up back in the snow in Denver at 2:30 in the morning, dazed and confused. Going to meetings, drinking coffee and laughing at our wacky solutions to life might be enough to keep me sober, but it is not enough to keep me growing along spiritual lines -- the whole point. The power to change is in the steps. Sponsorship -- going through the steps with others keeps me growing and changing.

Each time I go through the steps with a new guy my own understanding deepens and I experience life from a new perspective. When I share some of my own secrets in Step Five I see how far I've traveled. I identify my own struggle with active character defects as we move through Six and Seven together. In working through Steps Eight and Nine, I often find some old debris from the past has floated up to my conscious awareness. I discover I'm not doing such a hot job with the living amends I promised to make.  I don't know how much the other guy benefits when we go through the steps together, but I know I do.

Going through the steps with another alcoholic is the backbone of my program today. When we share together, the Steps are transformed from a bunch of dead words on a wall to living spiritual principles.