On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…their admittance to their Higher Power, themselves, and to another human being the exact nature of their wrongs…
Remember how I reiterated how important Step 4 was to recovery? Well, here it is folks. If you’re doing this with your family already, this is where you begin to share what you (and they) found out about themselves in Step 4. Now, you don’t HAVE to share with your family, but I think that it’s a good place to start since my blog is basing this on 12 Steps as a complete family (no matter the definition of your family). Part of the reason I recommend this tactic is so that the addicted person does not feel so alone and knows that they’re not defective in some way. They’re not. You’re not. We all have baggage and fears and resentments and some degree of regrets.
If you are not ready to share, begin with your Higher Power and initiate that conversation about what was revealed in Step 4. Then, decide who you will share it with: family, friend, sponsor, etc. Remember, the point of this is to learn about yourself, your experiences, how they have effected others, and share these reflections with someone else. It’s not about making amends yet. That comes later so don’t focus on that now. When you begin to say these things out loud, some might seem insignificant in the big picture of life, but how some have significantly changed your life and the lives around you, possibly even the one who you’re sharing with, so choose carefully. A neutral third party, like your sponsor, or sharing in meetings. Or, oh, I don’t know someone like me. A therapist, not a computer, silly. Going to see a therapist isn’t a permanent thing and doesn’t mean you’re “crazy”; it’s just helpful to come in and share without judgment, lay it all out there in a couple of sessions and a therapist can help you wrap your head around the things you are feeling.
Any one of these confessions can be the most challenging to be honest about: yourself, God (or your personal Higher Power), or someone else. However, like I mentioned in Step 4, you’re going to have to be totally honest with yourself about who and what you became when you were using. That person in the mirror is the same person, but what you have done in the past, does not define who you are AS a person. You could have a tattoo from prison and it will forever be on your body, but that doesn’t mean you’re always going to be in prison or behave as someone who is a criminal. You are not the sum of your mistakes.
Being honest with yourself, then your Higher Power, then another person would be the order that I would take because every time you share your truths, you give them less power to hurt you inside. Secrets keep people sick. You’ll hear that at more than one meeting. My Dad had Bipolar 1 and he used to say that, but I know that man kept some things to himself that haunted him to his grave. Don’t keep your secrets. Someone has to know.
If you’re truly working these Steps, share at the meeting and be prepared to listen. Really hear others input and questions because some of the longtime attendees will tell you their stories to learn from and you will also get some advice from those who have worked the Steps. Just because they’re called Steps doesn’t mean they’re a checklist. These Steps will continue with you throughout the entirety of your sobriety.
This (and Step 4) will make you want to relapse. I’m not going to lie. Who wants to start a process that involves bearing their soul to others, to themselves, to their Higher Power? Recovery isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it, but, if you read some of my other blogs, you might get some helpful tips (just click on the little blue links or follow me on social media for updates).
From my clients addicted to opiates: “Are you kidding me? I keep using just so I’m not shitting and puking all over the place. It’s not even about getting high anymore, I just don’t want to get dope sick.” (Remember that I worked with mandated clients out of jail, prison, or ordered by Department of Child Services in order to get back their children (DCS is one of THE most fucked up government systems as far as drug use and termination of parents’ rights I have ever seen, just my experience after testifying in a court case).
My other favorite conversation to have (so many times): “Pot’s not addictive.” My response? “Then why can’t you stop smoking it long enough to get on probation?” People are just funny sometimes in that regard. But sobriety doesn’t mean that the rest of the world will stop moving and using. Your friends will order alcohol at dinner. Your family will drink champagne on New Year’s. Hell, your co-worker might offer you a bump at lunch. But your job now is to stay strong and learn to have fun without alcohol or drugs and “Just Say No”. (Fun Fact: as a kid, I won a poster contest based on that slogan.) Slay the dragon you’ve been chasing and examine who you are. Instead of wallowing in self-pity about what you’ve done wrong , you might want to think about who it is you want to be and where to go from here.
All pics courtesy of FreePik and title pic designed using Canva
As the Steps become more and more complex and I want to know about other people’s experiences. I’ve had a myriad of experiences with addictions and I always want some feedback and discussion about the subject, especially the 12 Steps. Thanks for your input!