This article is being posted in memory of Margery Porter, BS, CAP, CEDS (May 19, 1942 – November 29, 2004). Marge was a beloved friend, mentor, therapist and devoted member of Alcoholics Anonymous who shared much of her experience, strength and hope with Turning Point of Tampa.
The 1st Step in 12-Step Recovery, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (drugs, food, people, places and things) and that our lives had become unmanageable,” may be our first venture into rigorous honesty. Think about how long most of us avoided taking that 1st Step. Why do you suppose that is?
Some of the main obstacles to taking the 1st Step:
- It means we’ll have to change, that we’ll have to do things differently.
- It means that we have come to realize that all our efforts to control have failed.
- It means that “half measures,” such as limiting amounts, switching substances and only using on weekends, have failed us.
- It means we have to be accountable for what we have done and stop blaming others and making excuses (if you had my problems, you would use, too).
- It means we have to become responsible in all areas.
- It means we have to ask for help. And that is scary!
Isn’t it interesting, then, that once we take that scary Step and admit that we are powerless and ask for help, there follows not only a sense of relief and freedom, but most of us also experience a sense of accomplishment. Imagine that. Doing what we said we’d never do, and never thought we would want to do, results in positive feelings about ourselves and hope for the future.
We then find out that if we want what others have in recovery, we have to do more rigorously-honest stuff, and that is scary. However, as we listen to others share honestly about their experience, strength and hope, we come to realize that we are not alone.
One of the most remarkable revelations is the laughter, camaraderie and joy that people in recovery share. At first this laughter seems almost cruel as we are examining our lives and the painful consequences of our using. That is when we discover one of the most wonderful gifts of recovery – the realization that we are not alone! Others have been where we are, suffered the same pain and have been able to move through the pain to a new life.
I recently heard a woman talking about how today she is able to reflect on her past, to help her stay in recovery and to be able to share with others. She added that, in reflecting, she does not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it, just as the promises tell us.
Rigorous honesty keeps us in recovery. It takes practice. Sometimes it’s painful. If we are painstaking, it always has benefits.
A 62-year-old female friend of mine in recovery, Theo C., was invited to participate in the Ironman Triathalon in Hawaii. What’s that got to do with this? She wanted it. She was willing to go to any length to get it. It didn’t just happen. She had to sweat, fret, follow directions, stay positive, listen to others, give up some other things in her life, plow through fear, and practice, practice, practice. Rigorous honesty takes the same kind of daily perseverance. The benefits are greater than anything you can imagine.
Theo got invited to the Ironman as the result of her willingness to practice her training a day at a time. Who knows what you’ll be invited to do by practicing rigorous honesty a day at a time.