Beginning of the Maintenance Steps

by Rick R.

After being in the program for a while, it occurred to me that initially, there was no way I could have performed all the measures suggested on my first go-around. Coming from an alcoholic’s approach to the issues we plan to address, we eventually come to understand that we can only give it our best effort to start the process. Understanding the disease of alcoholism takes time. First we establish a framework.

As we continue to grow, more is revealed. Step 10 becomes an opportunity to revisit past steps and fill in the empty spaces. That does not mean that we cannot address those issues when we become aware of them. If we stay sober long enough to get to this level of understanding we continue to repair our broken relations with others. We clear up legal, marital and financial problems that can distract us from looking at the deeper-rooted emotional, mental and spiritual issues. We cannot ignore the need for up-keep in the program any more than we can ignore maintenance when we purchase a new car. Brake shoes wear thin, oil gets dirty and coolant evaporates. The same things happen with recovery. If we become complacent at any level of this process we may relapse or miss out on the promises of Step 9.

Brake shoes wear thin, oil gets dirty and coolant evaporates

Step 10 reads, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it” (Big Book, Pg. 59). I believe that most of the members of A.A. who actually go through the Steps, as suggested in the Big Book, have been doing this to some degree since they became aware of it in Steps 4 and 5. We’re reintroduced to this topic to make it clear we’ll continue to do this for the rest of our lives. We’re never finished when it comes to taking the Steps. We cross a line if we are committed to the goal of becoming the best we can be in life. We stop asking, “Why must we do all the things that the program suggests?” We start asking, “Why wouldn’t we do these things that result in freedom of the mind?” The biggest misconception we have is the idea that, somehow, we are responsible for becoming an alcoholic. This is simply not the case.

Alcoholism is a disease. We do not have the capacity to decide to become afflicted with it when we were born. You might say that alcoholism is a byproduct of guilt, shame and low self-esteem based on habits and deeds of the past.

Naturally evolves as the result of working the steps

I am at peace mentally when my head hits the pillow

When we took our first drink, it did something for and to us that it did not do for or to the normal person. It masks our fears and insecurities temporarily, but does not erase those embarrassing behaviors from our minds or our consciences. Often we behaved poorly through our adolescence and young adulthood due to the fears and inhibitions associated with alcoholism. Who could fault the person who discovers they have a disease, treats that disease, accounts for all the faulty behaviors that stem from that disease, makes restitution and becomes a model citizen? This is the natural development that evolves as the result of working the steps and continuing the up-keep and maintenance process.  I thank God that the program of Alcoholics Anonymous took one hell of a load off my mind. I am at peace mentally when my head hits the pillow at night.  

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