Change was needed to learn how to live Life on Life’s Terms.
Being new to recovery can be overwhelming. In the beginning, many of us felt scared, confused, isolated and alone. In the past, we were Dr. Jekyll on the outside, pretending to be someone we were not, and Mr. Hyde on the inside, hiding someone we did not want to be. It was easy to feel broken and fragmented.
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is a suggested program of Recovery. This program has helped many to find the tools that can be used to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. Recovery begins with surrender and continues with change. Change in recovery requires developing a set of tools useful in accepting reality as it is, and not using a drink or a drug to hide behind. The steps needed for change are simple, but not easy. The steps require work. Work means doing what I don’t like or want to do, but need to do to have the life I want.
The experience of others can be very helpful. That is a main reasons recovery groups have meetings. At meetings one can find experience, strength and hope. A way to recover was found by many, and they share that experience. Itis easier to find out what worked and what did not work for others, rather than repeating the pain of learning they went through. Strength and support is gained by joining the group. One moves from being alone and helpless to being a part of a caring sharing group. Hope comes from seeing those who found recovery and are enjoying what they found. They are comfortable in their own skin. They help newcomers believe in recovery. We all benefit from the knowledge of others. It makes sense to use 12 step meetings as a base of support in recovery.
Recovery starts by being responsible for managing daily problems with jobs, bills, traffic, etc. Some of life’s more serious challenges can be the death of a loved one, illness in the family and difficulties in personal relationships. We can be ready to summon the needed tools when recovery is practiced repetitively and consistently.
Life on life’s terms means that when life shows up, we take it as it comes and don’t run from our problems by using a substance. We accept responsibility for our response to what happens to us in our life. We are always in the act of creating our life for ourselves, whether we are aware of it or not. We have the ability to shape and give direction to our life. We recognize that our choices today determine who we are tomorrow.
I surrendered, now what? I was confused, shaky and scared. I went to an AA meeting and met Wayne. He became my temporary sponsor. He met me everyday in the morning around 6:30 AM for several weeks. He told me, “Forget the past for now. Can’t do anything about it. Focus on the future which is only the next 24 hours. When you wake up, say ‘Help’, don’t drink, go to an AA meeting, and say ‘Thanks’ right before you go to sleep.” He helped me to gain stability, get physically sober and prepare for the next phase. I had to be abstinent from alcohol for awhile before I could learn how to live and enjoy life without alcohol.
I got an “Old timer” named Jack for a permanent sponsor and worked the steps with him. In Recovery there is a belief that self-centeredness leads to a spiritual illness. The process of working the steps is to replace self-centeredness with a moral awareness and a readiness for positive action. I did not look forward to, nor like any of the Steps before I worked them. As I look back now, I see each and every step I worked help reshape my behavior into a more useful and satisfying life. There are many important words in the 12 Steps. I found that I had to make them part of who I was. The words had to be woven into the fabric of my life, my very existence on a daily basis.
The first three Steps helped me develop an attitude of how to deal with the things I could not change. Step four through nine helped me understand what my responsibilities were and what needed to be changed. Steps ten, eleven and twelve are used to deal with the challenges of daily life. The 12 Steps became my text book on how to live Life on Life’s Terms.
I am responsible for my physical and mental health, my emotional stability and my spiritual well being. I am a member of a fellowship and a community. My responsibility is to respond appropriately to the needs of those groups with my abilities and resources. After working the steps I found a satisfying way to live and useful tools for achieving that satisfaction. I believe I had a spiritual awakening when I found a new useful and satisfying way of living. My life today is a result of my work. I do the work to meet my responsibilities and my Higher Power takes care of the results.
Sub Menu items.
There is a great deal of help for those who wish to Recover from alcoholism and/or addiction. I have listed in no particular order the items in my Recovery toolbox. There are other helpful items I have not included. Some of the items, I used a great deal early in my Recovery, but I may not used them too often today. My Recovery needs have changed as I changed.
- Recovery Tools – A toolbox of different useful instruments that can assist in Recovery.
- Acceptance – Many Sponsors have suggested this as reading material for a Sponsee.
- Promises – The Promises can be used as a tool of Recovery.
- Paradoxes – Other ways to look at Recovery.
- 12 Steps Illustrated – Sometimes a picture or illustration is worth a thousand words.
- 12Step.org – This is an excellent external web site that provides many complimentary resources for those working the 12 Steps with a Sponsor. Be sure to click on the Step that you are working.
- Fourth Step Guide – This guide is based upon the inventory information given in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. To be used with the guidance of a sponsor.