“Cover tunes are popular because nothing succeeds like past success. The Twelve Steps aren’t hit songs, great literature or particularly original, but as a guide for living, they have a track record. Change doesn’t come from reading and understanding the steps. They are a successful formula that can be loosely or strictly adhered to. But the recovery is in the action -- the doing.” [emphasis mine]
~ Joe C., Beyond Belief, May 27
We take courses in first aid so that we will know what to do when the feces hit the impeller. As part of it, we practice bandaging, applying splints, stopping blood loss. Experience and common sense have shown that we need hands-on practice — albeit without the blood and guts — in order to have a clear picture of what to do in an emergency.
Even so, the first time we have to deal with a spurting artery, we wish with all our hearts that we had our instructor, or maybe a trauma surgeon, there to lend a hand. Nonetheless, we use our training and what little experience we have to get the job done to the best of our ability. We don’t have to have an MD degree to do first aid. Surgery to repair the ruptured artery? That’s another matter.
All of the above is just good sense, but for some reason, many of us seem to believe that we can recover from the life-threatening illness of addiction just by reading the book (probably lots of books) instead of actually doing the work. Are we doctors? Nooooo… Are we psychologists? Well, some of us, but it doesn’t seem to help… Are we philosophers? Maybe we think so…
Perhaps we are all of the above, but unless we buckle down and do the work, we’re not going to do ourselves much good. All the books, all the theory, all the armchair expertise in the world doesn’t mean crap when it comes to our own recovery. Trust me on this; I learned the hard way.
Millions of people have worked the steps, some got sober and stayed that way. We don’t know why the others didn’t and that’s not our problem. Our problem is that we’re addicts, and we’re powerless over our compulsion to act out. The experience of the millions who did stay sober has been that the program works, but only if we work it.
How many self-help books have we got on our bedside bookshelf? How many have we read? How many did we understand? How hard did we work to put the theories into practice? How’s our recovery doing–happy, joyous and free yet?
Maybe it’s time to settle on one book, accept some help, and do the work.