The longer I am in recovery, the more meetings I attend, and the more people I meet it is still difficult for me to understand the fact that so many in a 12 Step Recovery program never work all 12 steps. This isn’t about “two-stepping” which is working Step 1 and Step 12 and nothing in between. This is about working the first few steps (1-3) then skipping a couple (4 and 5) and then working the next few (6 & 7) and skipping a couple more (8 and 9) and then working the last few (10, 11, and 12).
You certainly don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the trend here and this pattern is probably the dream of every newcomer. And why wouldn’t it be? I don’t think the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, the first 12 Step Recovery program, had this in mind when someone coined the slogan “easy does it”. In this case easy doesn’t do it.
How and when we work the steps is something personal between a sponsor and a sponsee. I know that some folks wait for a long time to find a sponsor but I am of the school that says, “Get one and get one now”. The sponsor doesn’t have to be permanent. As a matter of fact, I think most all sponsors are called temporary because recovery continues to change everyone. A sponsor should be your guide through the steps, all of the steps even if it is not the same sponsor.
This article, though, isn’t about sponsorship. It is about solid recovery by working all of the steps all of the time. This is not judging anyone else’s program because each person has the opportunity and freedom to do what he/she wants. But if we truly want to receive what the Promises (at the end of Step 9) offer and we want to do more than be free of our addiction and the obsession, then why would we want to put ourselves in danger of relapse?
I firmly believe that staying clean and sober happens through a support system and action. This includes going to meetings, working with a sponsor, service to others and working the steps. Many fellowships require a number of years in recovery before sponsoring. I do not necessarily agree with that because I am more concerned that the person has truly worked all of the steps if for no other reason than to be able to help someone else.
When someone relapses they will usually say they stopped going to meetings. I am sure that is true. Going to meetings on a regular basis is a good thing but if you have never worked a Step 4, 5, 8, or 9, or you just “kind of” worked these steps, I think you might have missed a huge part of the program. These are the tough steps. I would have gladly skipped these and I am sure most all of you would have also. So why do you think these steps are ignored?
The obvious reason would be fear but I have also realized that procrastination and a bit of laziness are behind it also. Other reasons are that we change sponsors or we relocate to another area and don’t necessarily pick up where we left off. At times, life has become too good to think of the past. In all fairness to those who don’t work all of the steps, I would say that the least worked step is 9. Nine forces us to go outside of ourselves and that can be a very scary place! We can convince ourselves that making amends is something we can put off because certain people are not available to us, we don’t know where they are or we can even tell ourselves that making amends to them would be harmful. I absolutely had to have the help of my sponsor on this one because I would have made an excuse not to make quite a few amends. It is true that we don’t have to make amends to everyone in a short period of time. But, certainly there is someone close enough to us to give us the opportunity to work this step when we are first ready.
I know I have been specific to certain steps but the important thing is that if we are willing to go to any length all 12 steps must be worked and after working them the first time, we work them again, again and again. Some we practice every day and others should be done periodically. It’s how we clean our side of the street no matter how spiritual and sober we have become.
If you have not worked all of the steps the way they were intended to be worked or, should I say, suggested they be worked, then I hope that you will take this seriously. This is an opportunity (it was for me) to see something through and as a result strengthens our resolve to stay sober and to find a way of life we never could have imagined.
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony. Like Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of "The Intervention Book" in print, e-book, and audio.