First Segment - Responsibility
So, over the past three weeks we have covered principles 1 to 3 of the Twelve Principles using Patrick Carnes book “A Gentle Path Through The 12 Principles” as our source. Today we move on to principle 4 which is all about responsibility.
So this is the principle behind Step 4 which is “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Onto the book and this week there will be a lot less reading to set the stage for the questions and a lot more questions...so buckle up.
THERE CAN BE NO RECOVERY without responsibility. (I just want to quickly pause and say I fucking love that sentence.)
When we were caught in the web of addiction, we used our emotions to protect us from reality. We guarded our delusions with anger. We masked our pain with fear. We obscured our difficult choices with shame. We blurred our sense of self with sorrow. It’s as if we threw a blanket over our life, keeping it dark and confined. When we practiced our addiction, we used our pain to try to shed personal responsibility. We told ourselves that we weren’t responsible for our behavior because we’d been abused or abandoned or cheated or because our life sucked. In recovery, however, we stopped hiding from ourselves. We understand the importance of examining our life, and we accept responsibility for everything in it. We realize that a deeply painful past does not let us off the hook. Nothing lets us off the hook. We are always responsible for what we do and decide.
Early in recovery, we discovered that reality was often quite different from our ideas about it. We thought we were in control of our life. We believed we were capable of managing our illness on our own. We imagined that other people were to blame for our situation. We chose delusion and magical thinking over the reality of here and now. Thankfully, those days are behind us. We have made an ongoing commitment to recovery. We accept that reality is irrevocable, that it is irreconcilable with addiction, and that recovery is often inconvenient because it demands the best from us. Day by day, over and over, we surrender to what is real, and to a process of never-ending discovery and growth. We take responsibility for our life. Looking back, we see that things rarely turn out precisely the way we thought they would. We never know exactly what the future will bring. We still have hopes, dreams, and intentions, but we have learned to hold them lightly. Sometimes the difference between our expectations and reality is vast.
When we practiced our addiction, we thought that life without it would be painful and empty. The truth turned out to be exactly the opposite. As our recovery progressed, we began to find pleasure, connection, and joy.
So the book basically splits the rest of this principle into two parts, Your Addiction Tapestry and Your Recovery Tapestry. So first up we will tackle Your Addiction Tapestry with the following questions.
Your Addiction Tapestry
In what ways did my addiction and addictive behaviour make my life better?
In what ways did my addiction and addictive behaviour make others’ lives better? Whose? How?
In what ways did my addiction and addictive behaviour make my life worse?
In what ways did my addiction and addictive behaviour make others’ lives worse? Whose? How?
What did I take the most pride in back then?
How did I see the world and my place in it?
What were my biggest hopes?
What were my biggest fears?
What things of value did I lose because of my addiction?
Your Recovery Tapestry
In what ways has recovery made my life better?
In what ways has recovery made other people’s lives better? Whose? How?
In what ways has recovery made my life worse, or more difficult?
In what ways has recovery made other people’s lives worse, or more difficult? Whose? How?
What do I take the most pride in now?
How do I see the world and my place in it now?
How do I envision my future now?
What are my biggest hopes?
What are my biggest fears?
Second Segment - Adaptation
Have you had to adapt your thoughts, beliefs, etc. to the recovery program or are you trying to make the program adapt to you? How have you dealt with struggles stemming from adaptation?
Third Segment - “If I leave this Twelve Step meeting and get hit by a bus, don’t take me to another Twelve Step meeting—take me to a hospital.” Father Joe Martin (1924–2009)
Recovery programs do solve a lot of problems in life. The Twelve Steps have been defined as a toolbox of wrenches that can fit any nut. Many of us come here to conquer one problem and get on with life. To our surprise, working the Steps has more far-reaching value. We read our program literature over and over again not because this is pleasure reading or because the Twelve Steps are a cure-all. Reading is one of the rituals that some of us incorporate into a recovery lifestyle.
But as pointed out above, not every problem calls for a Twelve Step remedy. Many problems need professional and/or expert help, help we can’t expect to find in meetings. We may need a guidance counselor, Relationship therapist, psychiatrist, trainer or medical doctor. Because the program has helped in more ways than we bargained for, we run the risk of putting the program of recovery on a fix-all pedestal. Self-help fellowships are people sharing their experience with each other—no less and no more.
Most of us have problems other than addiction. Some of us are candid about what ails us and what we are taking for it. Some of us keep those cards close to our chest. Addicts tend to need help in other mental health areas. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that alcoholics are two to three times more likely to have Anxiety disorders or other (concurrent) psychiatric disorders than members of the general population.
Do I have right-sized expectations about my program and fellowship? Have I ever caught myself talking about Twelve Step recovery as a cure-all or a one-stop shop?