So, for tonight, I thought we would talk about "How I work the steps."
New people often ask what they need to do. We recommend going to meetings, finding a sponsor and working the steps. But when pressed to explain how to work the steps, many, if not most of us are vague. The information in the welcome packet is not much less vague. I know that was once vexing and annoying to me and I suspect it is just like that for the new people. At first, I thought everyone else knew the right way and they were keeping the information from me. Was it some sort of test or hurdle I was expected to pass with little help? Nope, not at all. It turns out that the reason "working the steps" is so vague is because it is the most person specific part of this program. We all come to meetings the same way (basically), we read the same literature and we get our sponsors but the steps, those we must make completely our own because otherwise, they aren't our steps, they are _________'s steps. So, if anyone is hoping to find the elusive, one true way in sifting through shares tonight, I would encourage you to read the previous statement again.
And I think (and hope) that hearing about the very different ways we work the steps might help folks to see that there really isn't one true way. There are a lot of good ways, probably some not so good ways, but there are many ways.
I find I am doing my steps in a much different way from the first time I was in recovery, since much of what I was and am doing is remembering and relearning and getting my life back to the peaceful place I lived as I left recovery last time. Then, I will continue on from there to something even better. The first time, I did the first three steps over and over and over until I wanted to tear my hair out. I just couldn't seem to let go of the driving wheel. I seemed to know, intuitively, that I had to get those three solid, before I could move on to the fourth step. When I finally got to the fourth step, I didn't have a sponsor, so I wrote a big long list of character defects and read them to my counselor. Lucky for me, she asked me to go back and add my character strengths too. That felt harder than the character defects. I didn't have a journal, those 4 step things were the only part I wrote down. As I moved on to six, I noticed I needed to go back and review four a lot. The first three were so solid for me by then, I don't think I did much recycling there. And then I made my biggest mistake. I decided I was cured and that I was going to move on.
So, this time around, I found the first three so very easy, but I started a journal right away. It has a section for just my thoughts, another for my gratitudes, one for my resentments and another for my fourth step inventory. I find I move much more fluidly with the steps this time around. I'm not doing them in order nor am I checking them off an imaginary list. I guess you could say I live on the steps these days. But, while I am writing my defects of character as well as my strengths of character, I am waiting to fully "work" that step until I have a sponsor. That feels right to me. Choosing to do service early clearly comes from my previous experience where I figured out that service without strings is a good path for me to get healthy.
If anyone would like to share the way they work their steps, please do. While we might find tidbits from these sharings to add to our own bag of tools, I feel I must stress again, the reason working the steps is so vague is because the way must be created by the person working the steps because it is your recovery. If you copy mine or anyone else's template, you will get __________'s recovery which likely won't help nearly as much as doing your own recovery.
See you in 15 minutes. Sorry the topic is so late in coming.