Tag Archives: 4th Step

Gratitude Day

I think of this as Gratitude Day. (No, I’m not making a list.) Six years ago today it was forcefully brought to my attention that, after 23 years of thinking otherwise, I was not really sober.

I stopped using substances in September of 1989. It was easy. I detoxed in a treatment facility and hit the ground running. For many years I wondered why it had been so easy for me and difficult for many others. Sometimes I felt a little embarrassed that I couldn’t come up with any white-knuckle recovery stories. (There were plenty from “back in the day,” because I was unquestionably an addict.) Other times I fell into the trap of comparing rather than relating, feeling superior rather than examining the reality of my so-called “sobriety.” Continue reading

As Sick As Our Secrets

Addiction is all about secrets.  By the same token, recovery is about letting sunshine and fresh air into the hidden corners of our souls.  In addiction we build ourselves a little fantasy world, a totally imaginary place where we go to hide when we act out. Continue reading

Making Amends (The Steps Have Numbers For A Reason)

Before we start to make amends we need to honestly face the impact that our addictions have had on others. This isn’t something that we can do right off the bat. In early recovery we are still in denial about many of the effects our using had on ourselves, let alone other folks. Yes, there are obvious things: financial damage, emotional damage, abandonment, infidelities of various kinds, lack of empathy, inability to fill roles in the family and elsewhere, dishonesty and so forth, but there are other, more specific and far more subtle things that may even have affected the people in our lives more than the obvious ones. Continue reading

Looking For A Makeover?

When we were young, we were under terrific pressure to conform. To begin with, there were our families of origin. We depended on them for getting our needs met, although for many of us addicts that often didn’t work out too well. Nonetheless, with nowhere else to turn we settled for whatever we got and tried to become whoever our family dynamic needed us to be.

Later there were the attitudes and customs of our friends, peers at school, other adults in our lives, and strangers to whom we wished to appear a particular way. All of these people had their effects on the ways we look at the world, and the things we believe about it. In all these groups, there were pressures to conform.

Because of our desire to fit  in, we adopted many of the attitudes and outlooks of our peers.  This led to our current or past attitudes about the world and the people in it — about drugs, social norms, pornography, sobriety, fidelity with partners, honesty, and similar values.  We accepted many of these attitudes without thinking, and they became part of our world view for better or worse.  We were, without realizing it, thrust into a mold that shaped who we are today.

There’s a good chance that our old shapes won’t fit well into our new lives in recovery. Some of the values we learned, and more importantly, many of the things we came to believe about ourselves, may need to be rooted out.  We may have to re-define who and what we are in order to fit into the new lives we’ve chosen for ourselves.

That’s the job of the 12 Steps, particularly steps 4, 5, and 10. Those are the ones where we take a really honest look at our past lives and how we’re living today. They and the other steps are the templates for our new, self-designed lives.

After all, do we really want to live out a script written by someone else?