Posts Tagged ‘Step Two

The 12 Suggested Steps and the Set-Aside Prayer

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A woman at the Sunday night meeting referred to “the twelve suggested steps” glibly and comfortably during her share….I inferred from her delivery that this is how she always refers to the steps. I thought “I ought to do that, that’s cool.” but it is a bit pointed, and I already say something other than  “I’m an alcoholic.”  I don’t need to come off like “what a maverick!”  (I say “I am powerless over alcohol.” Because I have to think about it to say it and I hear it when I do.)  I think it’s cool because the Maverick in me wants to remember to lighten up and create my own unique-like-everyone-else Program, as I have often been advised. Then I don’t think I should go there because the Fundamentalist in me hears “How It Works” all the time as well as some Greenville favoritisms such as “the chapter is  not called How It Thinks” to “figuring it out is not one of the steps.”  How can it all be true?

Yes, here is the dilemma:

Part A: “rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path…..some of us sought an easier softer way….we beg of you with all the earnestness at our command to be fearless and thorough from the very start” (from Big Book, How It Works)

Part B:  The Twelve Steps are but “a suggested program of recovery.”  “Take what you want and leave the rest.”

Big sigh. It was recently suggested to me that I forget my omniscience regarding AA and sobriety and just start from here. Ok. Evidently it is just time for that because it makes a lot of sense.  I knit my brow at the conundrum above, but not for too long.  I have decided to do the Twelve Suggested Steps( henceforth TTSS) sooner than planned (i.e. right away) because evidently they work and what am I going to lose? I mean, can it get worse? (This wisdom came from Therapist K last night, sealing the deal on my conviction regarding TTSS).

In perfect solidarity I was reminded this week of the set-aside prayer, which I will make an effort to say before essentially anything from here on out:

Please help me set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease,
These steps, and especially You;
For an open mind
And a new experience
With myself, my disease,
These steps and especially You


Written by xty

August 25, 2010 at 00:21

golden text

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Yesterday I reread my notes from when I was in detox a couple of weeks ago.  I also re-read most of the AA Number 3 story in the Book, which is what these particular notes were on.  Page 191: “Bill looked across at my wife and said to her:  ‘ Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling it to people.’ …This has been sort of a golden text to me.”

From that I took most note of two points:  Bill attributed his sobriety strictly to a supernatural act, curing at that, and the emphasis on sharing with others. The fact that AA #3 considers these points a “golden text” feels like something I should always bear in mind.

I heard a new AA cliche: oldtimer to relapser: “I hope you’re out of good ideas.”  Again and again I am drawn to the texts and pick up messages  that underscore the spiritual and service based nature of real sobriety.

Written by xty

July 14, 2010 at 07:19

A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 2, pt. 1

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This instruction is not a short-cut to A.A. It is an introduction – – a help – – a brief course in fundamentals.

This meeting covers Steps 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 11. We will take them in order.

Step No. 2.  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Our drinking experience has shown:

  • That as we strayed away from the normal social side of life, our minds became confused and we strayed away from the normal mental side of life.
  • An abnormal mental condition is certainly not sanity in the accepted sense of the word. We have acquired or developed a mental disease. Our study of A.A. shows that:
    1. In the mental or tangible side of life we have lost touch with, or ignored, or have forgotten the spiritual values that give us the dignity of man as differentiated from the animal. We have fallen back upon the material things of life and these have failed us.
    2. We have been groping in the dark.No human agency, no science or art has been able to solve the alcoholic problem, so we turn to the spiritual for guidance.

Therefore we “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” We must believe with a great FAITH.

via A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 2.

It’s now 2010.  My first drink was in 1980; my first AA meeting in circa 1984 at an institution; my first AA meeting as an adult, voluntarily, I-gotta-do-something-find-out-where-a -meeting-is-drive-there-alone-and-go-in, was 1995.

In 1998 I moved from  a treatment center in my hometown to an Oxford House in my current city. My first sponsor here was Michelle P.   Eventually, after 7 years of trying, I managed to go a little over 6 years with no drugs or alcohol, although by that time I got to one year I had stopped attending AA.  I drank again, and around two years later carried myself back into a meeting.  (I drank a bar nearby before the meeting, and couldn’t go the full hour without a drink.)  Who was sitting there when I walked in but Michelle P.  She said, “It’s step two for you. Step two.”

Here I am four months sober having been in detox and treatment twice in the past calendar year. Michelle has been sober 18 years.  I puzzle about the step two matter, talk about it, pray about it, collect stories.  (A tad more background: the party line on “my problem,” “why I can’t get it,” is that I Think Too Much.  My party line has involved failed attempt after failed attempt at NOT doing this, followed by my current policy of Being Who I Am and Seeing If It Will Work Anyway If I Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Anything and Ask For Help.  I already tried “trying AA harder” enough times that I’m scared and dubious about trying that still again, for “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”) (Have I closed the door then? Nah. Scared and dubious isn’t “done.”)

Back to Step Two.  Usually Step Two  is divided into two parts, the tedious grappling-with-admitting-insanity part, and the tedious believing-in-God part.   I’m will skip qualifying in a major way on part A, because this is my blog, and I say admitting insanity is no problem for me. There’s codified proof out there: my 15 or so hospitalizations and paperwork where I was involuntarily committed more than once.  And then there’s my life story, which is proof to anyone including me that I do not operate correctly.

What about part B? I believe in God, always have, have no hangups with religion or Jesus etc, I pray, all that.  When I was in treatment the last time, during a meeting,  I looked over the big Twelve Steps poster for like the four thousandth time and noticed a phrase is underlined: God as we understood Him.  Feels like where I subconsciously spit out the kool-aid is right about there.

I’ve sincerely said the third step prayer, um, a lot, full of hope, for “it only takes the key of willingness to open the door.” I’m slowly admitting to myself that I don’t really believe it works that way.  In other words, God as I understand God is the problem.  After sitting with that,  I realize what causes the huge mental eyebrow-knitting for me is the making up your own HP business.  First off the program insists, and I agree, that we are selfish, grandiose, self-centered hopeless cases. Then, the Solution is something we selfish crazies get to – wait for this – make up!

Where I go from here in my thinking is “Oh, I get it, it’s the placebo effect. We just use the steps as a maintenance tool once we’ve made up our minds for real-real.  Ok.  I don’t have a problem with the placebo effect, because the result is the same, yes?”   Except I’m not going to make up a God.  I don’t think that makes sense, and besides, I’m insane, right?  (Maybe I have made up God, and because I’m insane, he’s a weird dickhead. Hm.  Let’s revisit that later.)

Taking us to now, where I understand why Michelle P was right on the money.  And where I’m stuck with a bunch of steps and full-blown beliefs that I can’t dive into the prescribed way because, well, I don’t have FAITH.  Am I just as fucked as the guy I wrote about last night?

Written by xty

March 4, 2010 at 14:11