"Anybody Can Take Steps" – Intro



     Anybody can take Steps, not just alcoholics and addicts. We are told to carry this message to others who suffer from addiction, but what about everybody else? Why hoard a process that can induce miracles? Shouldn’t everybody have access to these powerful and life-changing tools? Shouldn’t those we love feel the relief and serenity that we have procured for ourselves? 
     Letting go is a miracle. Once our basic needs are met, this is the secret to inner peace and happiness. If we can mentally/emotionally let go of all that is around us and inside of us, we can accept everything. We will have touched the great voice within and thus, the power of God. We can then touch the fabric of our universe and it is in this harmony that we continue to expand, know ourselves and give back. We’ll get more into letting go in Chapters 3 and 11, but to experience this inner evolution is something you do not want to miss.
     While there are many ways to achieve our ultimate goal of peace, the Steps harness timeless wisdom and universal spiritual principles that we see at the core of any serious religious tradition based on love, faith and humility. The Steps then take this wisdom and apply these principles into practical actions such as writing inventory, making amends, praying, meditating and working with others. As such, they can be used by anyone to elicit both internal and external change.
     The Twelve Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous was inspired by the Oxford Group, a Christian-based spiritual group that promoted the tenets of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love, known as The Four Absolutes. The program also involved four simple steps of admitting our wrongs, surrendering to God, making restitution and carrying out God’s will. Bill Wilson expanded these Steps when he conceived of the Twelve Step program for alcoholism, but you don’t need to be an alcoholic or a drug addict to take them or use them to effect real, lasting change and personal growth. Anyone can take Steps for any number of reasons, and we can all have a spiritual experience. I believe our world would become a more enlightened and mature place if we all took it upon ourselves to embark on some variation of this timeless program.
     In this book, I will analyze each of the Twelve Steps based on my own knowledge and experience, breaking them down to uncover how they can relate to anybody who may be suffering or powerless over, well, anything. Furthermore, I will describe how to take these Steps if I were a non-alcoholic or non-addict. My hope is that you will see how these spiritual tools can be used to achieve universal catharsis. More importantly, I want you to learn how to use the Steps to recover from what ails you, be it anger, rage, depression, anxiety, boredom, codependency, mental illness, personality disorders, narcissism, eating disorders, gambling, spiritual angst, lack of purpose, physical pain, or just the plain old blues. And the truth is that we don’t need to be suffering at all to enjoy the fruits of the Twelve Steps. Actively growing and evolving through right action and accountability is always a good thing. In fact, working on ourselves is a basic human responsibility. Don’t the people in our lives deserve that we continue getting better? Doesn’t the whole world deserve the same? And don’t we owe it to ourselves to do what we can to sleep well at night?
     Every morning I ask God to help make me a better man. I continue to take Steps in order to fulfill this prayer. Compared to the absolute nightmare I once was, the Steps have helped me become a more honest person. They have helped me to remove unhealthy and excessive selfishness. They have helped me to remove anger, fear and resentment. They have helped me to get outside of myself and think about others once in a while. They have given me the willingness to serve and to continue growing along spiritual lines. They have given me purpose and meaning. Best of all, the Twelve Steps have given me a way to always be okay, rain or shine. It doesn’t matter so much anymore when life throws me great challenges. Because of the work I’ve done in the Steps and the resulting relationship I now have with God, I finally have some peace. I am free.
     Trust me, there is nothing better in this world than simply being okay.

This Guy Gets It

     This is part of a new comment on, Why Alcoholics Hurt People:

     “I thought my love would be enough, I thought my love and caring would fix her. The problem with the addict: the more you love, the more they take of you and everything else, until there’s nothing left to give.”

     This is a guy who gets it. I don’t sit here and turn things upside down for no reason. If you have a real alcoholic or drug addict in your life, you will eventually come to realize that there is no amount of time, energy, love or money you can sacrifice that will fix him or her, so you might as well not spend your life fighting so hard or making war with someone’s addiction. All you will do is burn yourself out. You will become emotionally, mentally, psychologically and physically exhausted, sick, torn and depleted. That’s what addicts and alcoholics do to people. 

     But as I explained in the old post, we do this because addiction and alcoholism is #1 in our lives… until it isn’t. Drugs and alcohol are the loves of our lives and we will stop at nothing to get what we want and use to our little hearts’ content, even if that means lying to you, deceiving you, hurting you, abusing you and breaking your heart day after day after day. 

     So, ask yourself honestly, do ‘Science and Kindness‘ change addicts and alcoholics? NOPE. Addicts and alcoholics need to get worse, so once they’ve crossed over that line, don’t stop them. The worse we get, the closer we get to getting better. The worse we get, the closer we get to coming home to God, one way or the other. Addicts and alcoholics need God.
     Here is the gentleman’s full comment: 

     Wish I had read this a year ago. 3 weeks ago I had enough and for my own mental health walked out. She has no idea how much she hurt our relationship with her drinking. I’m left with the guilt of calling it quits and the pain of seeing her downward spiral in extremely dangerous lifestyle choices.

     Everything you mentioned in your article is so true. To anyone even contemplating a relationship with an alcoholic: RUN, run as fast and as far away as possible. I didn’t want to run. I thought my love would be enough, I thought my love and caring would fix her. The problem with the addict: the more you love, the more they take of you and everything else, until there’s nothing left to give.”

Convenient Delusions

     “Being a junkie and coming up with 100 bucks for your habit everyday is a harder grind than many working adults have ever experienced.” – By Jackie X (Haha, yeah, stealing from those responsible, hardworking adults is really tough. Please.)

     “I’ve never hurt a soul. In fact, I’m a really nice guy. Besides, all I do is smoke pot all day and drink the better half of a twelve pack every night.”

     “Pot isn’t a drug. It’s been proven! There are no harmful effects and it is NOT ADDICTIVE! In fact, it actually heals you from, like, everything, and makes you a much better person. I heard that weed is actually the leaves of the fruit of the tree of life from the Book of Revelations. I definitely get closer to God the more weed I smoke. Definitely. I wish I still had my coconut chalice, man. Where the F did that thing go? I think my stupid Dad threw it out.”

     “I’m a happy drunk.”

     “I’m a really nice drunk.”

     “The thing is, nobody feels the way I do, because believe me, if they did, they would drink and use drugs too.”

     “Look, it’s not my fault. It’s my genes. Geez, have some fucking compassion. I have a disease, just like anyone else with any other type of disease. Totally involuntary.”

     “My doctor said it’s totally fine and totally safe to just smoke pot, take methadone, and pop klonopin once in a while for my anxiety. That’s all ‘as prescribed’ stuff, so please stop implying anything because I’ve been sober for a really long time. In fact, I’m celebratin’ my 1 year this weekend at the meetin’. Omg, can’t wait to get my chip!”

     “I don’t really owe amends to anybody ’cause all I did was use, but I didn’t hurt anyone. If my mom was like sad that I used, that’s her choice to be sad because I didn’t actually directly do anything to her.”

     “I’m different than everybody else in the world.”

     “I use because I don’t fit in.”

     “I use because of the way the kids treated me in school. It’s their fault I started smoking meth and huffing. Now that I cook meth for my community, I’m at least trying to give back a little bit.”

      “I use because of stuff that happened to me, stuff that people did to me, and stuff that people said to me.”

     “I use because I’m bored, miserable, angry and have low self-esteem. My therapist said it makes sense that I would use if I felt all those things. He also said that relapse is part of recovery, so I shouldn’t judge myself if I ever relapse. So I relapsed about 50 times over the summer and I’m really just gonna roll with it and go easy on myself. I mean, hey, it was the summer.”

     …on and on… 

     That feeling everybody flashes like a badge of honor in AA meetings about never fitting in, never feeling a part of the world, never feeling connected, well, um, we all have that. It’s called being human. There is no such thing as being unique from the rest of the human race, but hey, you can tell yourself whatever you want to.

Blind Faith

     Blind faith is the key to getting better.

     Alcoholics and addicts are stubborn, obstinate, and tend to worship their own minds/intellect. We think we can get ourselves better if and when we choose to, which is a fallacy. And no matter how smart we think we are, our minds have instead become narrow, limited and ignorant. We demand to see results. We demand to know exactly what it is that will fix us. We want to see it to believe it. But that may be the one thing standing in the way of getting better.

     Until I read my inventory (5th Step) and recited the 7th Step prayer, I didn’t know if any of it would work. Sometimes it was difficult to embark on this mountain of work without knowing the end result. There was no guarantee I would have some profound psychic change. There was no guarantee I would recover. This is exactly why us addicts need to take a leap of faith… to break a lifelong pattern of never trusting in the unknown. We always have to know. We cling to our own self-will and sense of control because we don’t trust in letting go. We don’t trust in God’s will.

     So in the Steps we are asked to step into the darkness, unsure of where we will land. We are asked to just do the work on faith and see what happens. It’s like a trust fall. You don’t know that all of those people will catch you when you fall back. You have to trust that they will. Faith is trust. Trust that it will work. Trust that you will be okay. Trust in your recovery. Trust in the unknown. Trust in God. And hey, why not?

God, teach me to be still and know… 

Idiot Teenager Inventory

“God, help me to see those things that block me from You and Others.”
 1st Column
Dumb, entitled, ingrate teenagers who threw trash out of the window while driving by my house.
2nd Column
a. Threw trash out of the window while driving by my house. Plus one of the kids’ hats was on sideways and elevated. That doesn’t help.
3rd Column
P/A, SE (because I take it personally)
4th Column
*Self-Seeking: I’m a tough guy. No one throws trash outside my house. Good thing they didn’t stop. And besides being a tough guy, I’m also way too smart to do something that stupid.
*Selfish: I want others to act and think the way I do. Even more, I want these kids to feel ashamed for their stupidity (to indulge pride etc.).
*Dishonest: I take it personally not necessarily because I care so much about Mother Earth but because I don’t want to see the trash on the ground outside of my house. I don’t like the way it looks.  
*Fear: I fear not being seen or noticed by others (for what I perceive to be good or superior qualities in myself).  

     Let’s look at this because it is a great example of how we alone cause our resentment, not the person or people we’d like to blame.

     Dumping garbage out of my window is not something I resent in myself because this really is something I would never do. I used to consider myself almost a different species from someone who would voluntarily throw shit out of their windows, including cigarettes. I found it vile. I was shocked and angered that these kids (the future) feel neither embarrassment, nor do they feel any reason to NOT throw crap on the ground. If I did something like that, even by accident, I’d be glowing with embarrassment.

     So then, how was I self-seeking?

     Originally, I figured it was that I wanted to be seen as smart and advanced, but when looking deeper, the truth is that it pissed me off because I took it personally. How dare anybody drive by my house and throw trash on the street, especially a bunch of teenage ingrates with no purpose to their existence other than aspiring to look incarcerated? At any rate, I wanted to rip the one who threw the trash out of the car and inflict shame and punishment on him. Why? The bottom line is that it affected my pride. I wanted to be seen as a tough guy. So it had less to do with the idiocy of throwing trash out of one’s window and more to do with the fact that they did it in front of me. If they had been on another street and I didn’t witness it, would it have pissed me off just the same? Nope.

     So it’s more honest to say that I wanted to be seen as a tough guy than as someone who is too smart to throw trash on the ground. I’ve left both answers so you can see that there is more than one, but the trick is to find the deepest truth, to discover what is really going on. 

    As far as selfish goes, I originally thought it was that I wanted others to be like me – to think, speak, dress and act the way I do. But when looking deeper, the truth is that I want these kids to know how ignorant they are and feel ashamed of it. Yup, sorry. I want the kid who threw the trash to feel shame, to suffer some kind of emotional consequence. Instead, they sped by laughing and screaming and blasting music… and that is what caused the resentment. It wasn’t that they are different from me but that they did not suffer any consequence.

     Why do I care so much that they suffer for what they did? Am I some justice man? Nope. Again, it’s simply because I took it personally because they did it outside of my house. It makes me feel like some loser who gets trash thrown on his lawn, even though they don’t know me from a hole in the wall. In this way it affects my self-esteem and how I see myself. Am I some schmuck that even dumb teenagers can walk all over? The truth is it had nothing to do with me, but you can see how I made it about me and this is what caused the resentment.

      I was dishonest because I was lying to myself. That is, instead of being some righteous individual who doesn’t ever litter, the truth is I took it personally. Avoiding that truth helped fuel the resentment. In my new book, “Anybody Can Take Steps” (due out this fall), the 4th Step chapter on our written moral inventory is very extensive, so hopefully it will help.

     Finally, what was I afraid of? What did I fear? Originally I thought that I was afraid to love others, afraid to love these children despite our differences, but the truth is that I want recognition for those differences. These kids remind me that I’m not showing off who I am, my goodness, what I’m capable of, my talent. I’m afraid nobody will notice me. I know it sounds a little ridiculous to get all of this from a bunch of kids throwing a McDonald’s bag out of the window (which is also annoying that is was McDonald’s), but when we dig deep, get honest and see things clearly, we discover that our resentment is born, fueled and maintained within.

     Everybody should go through this process when they cop resentments, or at least addicts and alcoholics. Why? Because it prevents us from wrongly judging others and from accumulating the poison of resentment within, which brings us down and can affect all aspects of our lives.