Spiritual Round Up
Paul W (NY)
When I started recovery [in Al-Anon] the Twelfth Step really scared the Hell out of me! I thought "Oh God, I have to tell everybody I'm in recovery and get them into the program". I felt very uncomfortable about my Twelve step responsibilities. My misconceptions about Step Twelve clearly illustrate the physical, emotional and spiritual state I was in during my early days. In hindsight, I see that I defaulted to my character defects of forcing a solution and perfectionism. Needless to say, I was in a very frightening new place. All my defects and defenses were blaring at full force. It was exactly where I needed to be.
I could never bring myself to act out the Twelfth Step the way I feared I was supposed to a la "round-um up and drag-em into the rooms". Thank HP! In my jump to do something I totally neglected the having "had" a spiritual awakening part of the step. First things first, I had to recognize and recover my spirit. I started my recovery in Al-Anon but I was still acting out sexually. My spiritual awakening came slow. For me it came out of the safety and consistency of the meetings. I began to trust the people in the rooms. I remember opening my mouth to share and all that came out were sobs and tears. I cried and shook for my full four minutes. At the break, a line of hugs formed. These loving people told me that I was in the right place and to keep coming back. They saw me at my
most vulnerable, they did not judge or hurt, they held me, the pain passed and the clouds began to lift. My original spirit began to return and stir. I began to open, let-in and have feelings. My armor slowly began to fall away, allowing me to see my surroundings and most importantly myself. The more I came back to meetings and made contact the more I was able to see. It wasn't all pretty. Because the program offered me a safe place to "be" I eventually awakened and claimed my sex addiction. Ultimately this was no major surprise but I had grown enough to take the risk to accept what I could not change and get the help I needed to recover from sexual compulsion. On September 13th, of a year I can not remember, I went to my first 12-Step meeting for sexual addiction three years after I'd started my journey in Al-Anon. For me the spiritual awakening has been slow; one step forward, two steps back. Fear and my addictive desire to return to the old familiar ways of acting out [as well as some new ways] have regulated a slow spiritual awakening for me. The beauty of the awakening, as I have experienced it, is that it is multiple and expansive. It is not a one shot deal; once awake, now forever awake. Every day in recovery is a chance to have a spiritual awakening or spiritual dimming. Recovery gives me the tools to choose and awaken. I don’t always make that choice. What I have come to know is that a day is only 24 hours and tomorrow is another day to choose recovery. The people, meetings and steps [when I’m willing to use them] keep me from the dark, from spiritual re-confinement. I get to choose. Some days I'm more in the light than others. It's progress not perfection. I've also come to know that I can't control the outcome. I try to turn my will and life over each day and stay open to the "flow".
Living my life "one day at a time", in recovery and as sober as I'm able to be, is the best Twelve Step work I can do to carry the message to others. This is quite a conceptual shift from my first thoughts of having to go out among the masses, round up and preach. Today I never really know how my Higher Power will use me as a Twelve Step messenger. All I have to do is "try" to be open to the will of a power greater than myself. I've come to experience the "carrying" part of the step to be a very natural, easy, not-plotable occurrence. Of course there are things like going to a meeting, being visible and
qualifying that are quite conscious and chosen forms of Twelve Step work. Both the "in the moment" and chosen forms are equally important and involve vulnerability and willingness. Two qualities I can grow very short of when I'm spiritually shut down. How I live my life has a direct impact on my "awakening" and my ability and willingness to "carry" the message. This may seem like a very obvious statement but to me it exemplifies the absolute connectedness of all the aspects of Step Twelve; the spiritual awakening, trying to carry the message and practicing these principles [the steps] in all my affairs. They all connect and affect the other. Daily balance of all three is the key [for me] to able to truly work the Twelfth Step.
Keeping it very simple, I am a sex addict and I get a chance each day to choose sobriety. The program offers safety, tools and support to achieve this daily goal. Each moment presents different challenges and feelings. By taking the time each day to make contact with a power greater than myself, I am reminded that I am not alone and I will be taken care of. Turning my will over is not always easy and does not always feel good. It is hard
for me to admit my powerlessness. As I work the Twelve Steps, as best I can, slowly I have had a spiritual awakening and I continue to be awakened to life and myself. Being in the "flow" a day at a time helps me to practice these principles and carry the message. I am reminded of something that Stewart always says at meetings "it all comes down to love and service". Today I care for my spirit, know it's value and desire to share it.