We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
These are the 12 steps in Alcoholics Anonymous. I feel like demystifying them takes much of the fear away and gives the steps more power. In NA the word alcohol is replaced by addiction, and the person is said to be an addict, not an alcoholic.
Living clean and sober has a special place in my heart. Yesterday I wrote a letter to my child's teacher about my struggles with clinical depression for most of my life. I said to her that I had to visit a rehab again, to get better both mentally and to get away from substances.
AA and NA aren't for everyone. But there is a clarity that comes with being clean and sober that you can't get anywhere else. I decided in 2014 that I had to take a moral inventory of my life (step 4). Once I did that, everything related to the 12 steps fell into place.
I went to an NA meeting on the advice of an acquaintance who agreed to sponsor me. She said that NA reached more people because it didn't just talk about alcohol, but about all addictions. Addiction to alcohol is just one aspect, we can also be addicted to drama, sex, drugs, shopping, social media, and many other things.
It's very important to understand that the 12 steps can also be secular, that you can have a spiritual awakening without the God part. However, it is important to understand that it is not until we surrender control to a Higher Power that we get better. This has been proven time and time again, that when we "give up", we finally decide to change.
I have done step 9 many times with many people. AA however introduced me to the fact that sometimes making amends causes damage to the people you make amends with. This approach has helped me figure out who and when I need to talk to, and when a relationship is better off ending.
I've had clinical depression since I was under 10 years old, from watching my father try to kill himself so many times. Being in rehab means that I not only get help for my depression, but that I also get help for my alcohol dependence, and any other addiction I have tried to help me feel better.
It helps to understand that we all have something we are struggling with. My letter to my child's teacher was the first time I have shared my struggles with another adult at their school. It felt good to be honest and to come from a place of recovery rather than dwell in the drama that is created.
I also have found it interesting that some of the translations of the Reiki principles include a saying from AA/NA, Just for Today.
Here are the parallels from the NA blue book (in AA the manual is called the Big Book):
Just for today my thoughts will be on my recovery, living and enjoying life without the use of drugs.
Reiki- Just for today, I will not be angry
Just for today I will have faith in someone in NA who believes in me and wants to help me in my recovery.
Reiki- Just for today, I will not worry
Just for today I will have a program. I will try to follow it to the best of my ability.
Reiki- Just for today, I will do my work (live my life) honestly.
Just for today through NA I will try to get a better perspective on my life.
Reiki- Just for today I will count my many blessings.
Just for today I will be unafraid, my thoughts will be on my new friends, people who are not using and who have found a new way of life. So long as I follow that way, I have nothing to fear.
Reiki- Just for today, I will be kind to every living creature.
It is as if the people who translated the principles had another adage in mind- taking life one day at a time. With any addiction, we take life only one day at a time, and strive to be a good person who treats others the way we would want to be treated.
For local AA groups, check out CFLintergroup.org.
For local NA groups, check out NAflorida.org.
I wish you peace and happiness.
If you have any questions about the 12 steps, use my Contact Page.