The secret to becoming recovered is so simple it hurts: repeated action.
If we do certain things everyday, month after month and year after year, then we will completely change fundamentally (physically, mentally, spiritually). It’s really simple. You just can’t stop. You can’t give up. We become what we do, thus if we ‘do recovered’, so to speak, if we live it consistently, we will become recovered.
Great, but what exactly do I do everyday?
For me, I took and continue to take Steps to get better. And even though so few have a clue about the Steps, they actually contain a plethora of very specific actions. If you interpret the Steps properly from AA’s original text, you will discover endless things to do on a daily basis:
Praying, meditating, writing inventory, working with others, helping people, helping our families, being a better husband, father, son and brother, walking in the woods (form of mediation), exercising (living amends to self), giving back to our communities, being a better employee, being a more positive and respectful person out in the world when interacting with others, reading and educating ourselves, cultivating healthy friendships, being creative, honoring who we are, following our hearts, etc. etc. etc.
All of these and more are actions suggested by the Steps.
So please don’t tell me that the Steps are just some outmoded poster on the wall of your meeting that you can’t stand looking at because they failed you. Please don’t tell me that the Steps are not for everybody, that they don’t work for some people, that some people need to suck on Methadone wafers for the rest of their lives. Please don’t go there because if you remove the label of AA or the label of the 12 Steps, we’re really just talking about right action. Take a shitload of repeated right action and you will recover. Period. Amass a repertoire of tools that heal you and then go and use them over and over again until you die. That is the secret to getting better.
I used to struggle to do all sorts of things like writing inventory, exercising, working, facing people, dealing with worldly shit, public speaking, praying, etc… and now I just do it. It’s easy now. I don’t struggle to take care of myself. And the best part is that I became recovered in the act. I have a vast reservoir of peace and sanity from taking repeated actions all these years.
And sorry, but pills and therapy and meetings alone won’t build you this kind of reservoir – vast, expansive, deep and pure. We have to earn it. We have to do the work. We have to take right action every day, year after year. Go ahead, try it before you tell me it fails. Try it for ten years and then call me up and tell me how you’re doing. Or take suboxone and go to meetings and call me when you need a ride to detox. Your choice.
Finally, it is crucial to ride out the first initial period of suffering you experience after you get sober and begin taking steps and recovering. Without fail you will come crashing off the pink cloud, and for the rest of our foundation to be laid, we must suffer in sobriety and endure it. It is crucial that when we begin to suffer, we pack it in and stoically continue doing the work and continue taking steps. Trust me, that is a test we must pass to see if we truly want to live the spiritual life. Once we get through our first real funk in sobriety, that’s when we even out and experience what real strength is. After that (and after finishing ALL of our amends, of course) it won’t be too long before we become RECOVERED.
God, please teach me and show me what I have to do to recover…