I had no idea what to expect when I started my journey into recovery. Before coming to treatment, I’d never attended a 12-step meeting, had never seen the 12 steps and had no idea what a sponsor was. My first meeting was like being in a whole new world. It was overwhelming, the concepts and language were all new. What’s a character defect? (There’s no way I have those) What’s all this talk of a Higher Power? Wait you mean God?? (Why are we talking about God? Maybe this isn’t the place for me – I stopped believing in God a looong time ago. God is for weak people who need something to believe in and I’m not weak). I never felt so lost in my entire life. It didn’t help that I’d just gotten out of detox and my brain was still incredibly foggy. It took weeks for that fog to lift. I did see one thing in that meeting that intrigued me, it was the relationships that the women seemed to have with each other. Women gave each other big hugs and really seemed to care about each other. That was new for me. I’m not sure that would have been enough for me to stick around on my own.
I’m incredibly grateful that I discovered AA through a treatment center because it forced me to give 12-step recovery a shot. I don’t think that would have happened if I’d found the rooms on my own. I don’t think I would have stuck around long enough to find a sponsor or build relationships with other women. I was in too much fear. I would have seen “God” in the third step and run for the hills. What I missed that first day are the words that are written after “as we understood him.”
In treatment, it was requirement to get a sponsor and a network of women. My first sponsor was exactly what I needed. She was able to relate to what I was going through and encouraged me to be honest about what I was thinking and feeling. She was the first person I ever really trusted. She took me through the steps and what a miracle that process is.
In the first step, I admitted I was powerless and my life was unmanageable. I was able to see the insanity of my addiction in the second step and believe that something could help restore my sanity. With the third step, she encouraged me to open to idea that maybe there’s something out there I can’t explain -a Higher Power. I was encouraged to pray and found that it really gave me peace and comfort as I began to develop a relationship with my Higher Power. With the fourth and fifth step, I was able to get out everything I’d been holding on to. The more difficult part was that I had to start seeing my part in every situation. I began to see that I was my problem, not the drink or the drugs. The sixth and seventh step is where I began to really see my character defects – that concept that sounded so foreign in my first meeting. I learned too that it was going to take work to begin the process of removing them. No one was going to sprinkle fairy dust on me and take them all away (one can dream). In eight and nine, my sponsor helped guide me on the amends process and it wasn’t as bad as I expected. While I practice all the steps – Steps 10, 11 and 12 are a daily part of my program. I take a daily inventory for ten which helps me to continue to grow in my recovery. Eleven is where I initially saw I had developed a relationship with a Higher Power. It’s amazing to me that I got to this point because I was really resistant to the concept initially. By working the steps with a sponsor, in the order they were written, I was able to have a spiritual experience and a connection with a Higher Power that continues to grow and get stronger the longer I’m sober. Finally in Step 12, I’m reminded to practice the principles of the program in all my affairs. The spiritual principles remind me to stay in God’s will for me and not my self-will. Step 12 also gave me the ability to take other women through the steps which is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Going through the steps caused a total psychic change in me. Today, I am incredibly grateful that I was introduced to a 12-step program through treatment. I like the person that I am today, I have faith that everything will be ok as long as I take the action I need to take. I never believed it would happen for me – it’s truly a miracle of recovery.