“We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”
Recently, someone told me that they are a big believer in the 12 Steps. They went on to say that they worked through the 12 Steps a few years ago. I would argue that they aren’t really a believer in the 12 Steps. They may be a believer in 11 of the 12 Steps, but they don’t really believe Step 10. How can I say this? Step 10 clearly presents the Steps as an ongoing process, not a one and done procedure.
When I first began to think about recovery I was looking for a quick fix, a magic pill, that mind altering, life changing experience that would set me free. That very statement speaks to my addiction. Isn’t that what all addicts are looking for? A quick fix? A mind altering experience? Recovery, or long term change of any kind, is never a quick fix. It takes work. It takes repetition. In Step 10 we recognize the progress that is being made and we are committed to continuing to take these steps. I am constantly having to stop and admit once again, that I am powerless when I try to face circumstances in life without God. Inventory must be a regular exercise. Unprofitable behaviors and attitudes will start to accumulate again and will need to be identified. These things must be removed and replaced. And somehow, as hard as I may try to avoid harming others, I still manage to do so. Amends will be a lifelong process.
This process of recovery is sometimes referred to as “keeping a short list.” The idea is that my first trip through the 12 Steps dealt with a lifelong accumulation of unhealthy behaviors and harms committed against others. In my case that resulted in a painful and difficult process, but if I continue to take inventory and promptly admit when I am wrong, the list of things I am dealing with is much shorter and usually much less intimidating.
As I think back to my years of addiction, I can remember the overwhelming fear and paranoia that always seemed to be present. Trying to keep track of the lies I had told so I could keep my story straight. Avoiding places because I might run into someone that I owed money to or someone I had pissed off. Skipping out on family events or time with friends because of shame associated with the way I had acted the last time we were together. It’s my memories of that kind that have become my selfish motivation to maintain my recovery and continue my walk through the Steps. I don’t ever want to experience those feelings again. If I keep a “short list,” I don’t have to experience that again.
The 12 Steps were never intended to be a one and done process. Step 10 makes that clear. If you’ve never been through the 12 Steps or you’re looking for some help getting started again, shoot me a message. We can talk. email@example.com