by Marcello C-B

This journey started with much difficulty. Self-absorbed. Darkness needed to come to light. In the process I found step 1 that I was able to do 100%. I had no problem doing so because life before was absolutely unmanageable. I proceeded to go into step 2 without any difficulty with who my higher power was since I already believed he can restore me back to sanity. Then followed step 3 where I made the decision to give myself fully to the care to God how I understood him. Being Catholic I grasped that concept easily. Yet Step 4 always scared me. Making a fearless, moral inventory of myself originally meant I would get here and lie about it because I didn’t want anybody to know my fears, how damaged I was and full of darkness my past had been. So I always held back everything, danced and two stepped around the subject because survival depended on it in the old lifestyle. I was trying to defend myself from others.

I didn’t want anybody to know my fears, how damaged I was

Much to my amazement I started on step 5 and divulged all these fears I was holding on to for God-knows-what reason. Facing the exact nature of all my wrongs freed me from all the dark secrets with God and another human being who is still my sponsor today. The 6th step got me ready for God to remove defects of character. Now I’m not saying all of them were removed since I’m still working on them today. So then I followed with step 7 and asked God to humbly remove my shortcomings. I never thought that I would be making a list of all people I had harmed for Step 8. This was a shocking moment for me yet I somehow became fully content and willing to make amends to them all. For Step 9, without any holding back, I started to make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Now we were in a place I never thought I would reach. It was shockingly new to me to feel this way.

Steps are a true gift saving my life today

With Step 10 I continued to take personal inventory and when I was wrong promptly admitted it. This is the step I mainly use today because it keeps me in my own lane. If I’m tempted by any type of wrongdoing, my awareness of what it was like before lets me “play the tape” over as a reminder. I need to keep myself on the right path. This allows me to live free from the bondage of alcohol which I’ve abused many times over.

The good thing about this step is that if I’m raveled up I can always go back and make a personal inventory. I get myself focused and back on course with the true agenda. Today even though I want to behave out of line or act out in anger because I feel cheated, I choose not to act on it. Step 10 fortifies me plus it lets me examine what I need to fix, so situations like that don’t occur again. Just like this passage from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions says, “Only the closest scrutiny will reveal what our true motives were. There are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified conduct which was really wrong. The temptation here is to imagine that we had good motives and reasons when we really didn’t” (p. 94). This passage has always stuck with me. My conduct in the past had been to minimize. Today I need to look realistically at my behavior. Last time I got loaded in Marin I was in self-destruct mode. I was living at a shelter and didn’t let them know where I was. When I got back to the shelter they kicked me out. Basically I lost my housing because I wanted to get high and ended up at Helen Vine Detox. Today I look honestly at my old behavior and avoid rationalization. Inventories help identify the patterns so I avoid repeating them.

If I’m tempted, I “play the tape over” as a reminder

Step 11 was where I sought prayer and meditation to improve conscious contact with God, praying for knowledge and to get back down to earth. I tell myself that he has this and I need not worry. Now I was on step 12. Once I had been a frightened, shameful, vengeful, chaotic individual. The darkness had once kept me going. I finally was able to walk away from it by having a spiritual awakening from the steps. I continue to carry the message to other alcoholics and continue to practice this principles no matter what. The steps are a true gift. They are saving my life today. Without them and the many that stood behind me I wouldn’t be here. Thank you all.

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