A few years ago, I met a man at a 12 step meeting. He sat down at the table and when it was his turn to talk, he used his arms and hands to make a gesture. He started with outstretched arms and made his hands glide in towards an imaginary pile. He stacked and shaped it upward. He did this several times. He glided his hands on the table while scooping and making an imaginary pile…
He said he finally felt like he was getting his “shit” together.
Then he said “But some days, I just feel like I am sitting here staring at a pile of shit.”
I will never forget that display. I honestly don’t remember the guy or his name, but I will never forget the analogy. It stuck with me.
I mentioned last week that I was reading a book for my new book club, Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown. One of the things I realized while reading this book was, how grateful I am for the 12 steps of recovery. If it weren’t for the 12 steps and some great sponsors over the years… I am not sure where I would be.
Probably sitting somewhere just staring at a pile of shit.
For those of you who aren’t in recovery, the fortunate ones of us… do recover. We do get better. It’s not just about quitting… it’s about recovery. Yes… I know… first, you have to quit. But here’s the thing… that’s just the beginning. That isn’t the answer.
Because… Alcohol and Drugs are just a symptom of our disease.
So what the hell does that mean?? It means that we turned to a substance to escape us. We turned to drugs to not feel the pain. We drank to erase the memories and the sorry existence of us. We couldn’t cope any longer…. so we drank and drugged to get by.
So… by removing the alcohol and drugs, we can work on us. In the book, Brené talks a lot about vulnerability and shame. In our 12 steps, we heal that shame.
We get through it together. We learn that we never have to be alone again. We learn to give up the fight. For most of us, that’s all we have known. Fighting. Fighting to be included. Fighting to be alone. Fighting for our voice, our truth and our power. We learn how to surrender to win. Sounds like a novel concept… and it’s not an easy task. Not at all. It’s the hardest, most rewarding thing that I have ever done.
Showing up with my step working guide in hand. My notebook full of my writing. Full of my secrets. And… then- telling someone all that is written. Freedom at last. Working through the shame is the first step to healing.
The power in writing the 12 steps, is like no other. I have equated this to many sponsee’s over the years as “NA, is like a big giant mushroom of energy. Each time that we sit down and write our steps, we get to tap into that energy. We get to tap into that power. There are many thousands of people who have healed and worked through their past, by working the 12 steps.”
One of the reasons it works so well is that each time I have sat with a sponsor to do step work, she has shared with me, some of her story.
You see- Shame, tells us that nobody will understand. Shame, tells us that we are alone and we are always going to be “broken”. Nobody will ever be able to help us. Nobody, will ever be able to love us.
When an addict walks into a 12 step meeting for the first time, the healing begins. There is a power greater than any of us- that resides in those rooms. Many of us call that power our Higher Power, or God. Some people are so sick and tired of people trying to “save” them… that God is a topic they just aren’t willing to tackle.
Some of us have had our God change over the years. Through healing and our work, we have changed our view of God.
Some of us knew God when we entered the rooms. Others have found their God in the rooms.
It’s not a pre-requisite, but it is necessary to believe in some power. That fact- right there- has also stopped some people, from entering the rooms. Sadly, some people think that this spiritual program that we work, is all about God. It’s not. There is a difference between spirituality and religion. (But that is a topic for another post!)
Back to shame… let’s dive right back in. What if your shame no longer had power? What if your old ghosts didn’t stop you dead in your tracks? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to think of your past as just a part of who you were… and not who you are?
Over time, even the guilt… can disappear. Promise.
Recently I had a conversation with my husband about my blog. He wondered why I write about some of the things that I write about. What is the benefit for me? Just like most men… he shudders at the topics that I write about. Yes, that is a sexist statement. I know it’s not true for some men… It’s also true for many women. Why. Do. I. Write. What. I. Do?
Because there is someone out there that needs to know that they are not alone. Someone needs to know that there is hope. Hope doesn’t always come flying in on the wings of a dove either… sometimes it comes from a few tears, a cup of good coffee and a few f-bombs. (That is a quote of mine from my writing about Paul’s death. I had a spiritual experience one day with my sponsor over a cup of coffee, a good cry and a few f-bombs.)
If you’ve made it this far… Congratulations. You are worthy. If you ever doubted that… let it go. And Cheers… hold up that glass of iced tea… You’re perfect right where you are.
Hang in there… it’s just getting good. Promise.
Until Next Time~ Peace and Love.