"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or can only be accepted."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My own "12 step" program (Steps 1 and 2)

Alcoholics, addicts, and family members of the two always hear about the 12 steps. And while the steps are slightly different for the user compared to the family members…they give the same idea. These “12 steps” are supposed to help promote healing…12 steps to a new way of life. A chance to really start over, and give yourself a better life than you had. But those steps…aren’t nearly as easy and simple as they may seem. I can’t say much from the addict’s perspective, but as a family member…those steps can be incredibly frustrating.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over drugs and other people’s lives – that OUR lives had become unmanageable.
                Seems easy enough right? “I am powerless over drugs and other people’s lives…my life has become unmanageable.” WRONG. I could say it all I wanted, doesn’t mean I believed it. It’s just like any other kind of problem…the first step to recovering is admitting to it. You can’t get help if you “don’t have a problem” after all. But this step isn’t all about admitting that we have a problem. It’s about admitting that even though we know drugs (including alcohol) have taken over in our loved ones life, and ours…we can’t do a darn thing about it. We can only change our own. After all, most of us had already tried talking to our addict, we’d tried begging them to stop, we’d threatened that we’d be gone if they didn’t stop, and we had tried to fix all of the trouble they’d gotten themselves into. But none of it worked.
                So what did all of that do? Frustrated us. It created hours where we sat and cried, blaming God, ourselves, the neighbor…anyone we could think of. It turned us into enablers, and helped us to play the victim. It sent the rest of our lives into total chaos because we couldn’t pull ourselves together. We spent so much time trying to help the person that didn’t want help…instead of realizing that there were ways we could help ourselves. This step is about letting go. It’s about giving up control (not that we ever had it)…and it’s about giving ourselves a chance. It’s about realizing that we couldn’t micromanage the addict’s life…and all we really could do was love them.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
                First of all…we weren’t the crazy ones. The second step used to frustrate me because I wasn’t the one with the problem! I was sane…he was the one that was a mental case. I was just trying to help him get back his sanity…mine was perfectly fine! Wrong again. Think about it. Addict’s lie and manipulate…they are the ideal con artists. It’s how they survive, and keep so many people in their courts. And we let them. We spend hours and hours researching addiction and trying to show them how dangerous it is. We tell them one second that we never want to see them again, and then hours later…go looking for them when they don’t come home in the middle of the night. When they finally seem to understand it and go into “recovery”…we ignore every tell-tale sign of their using because after all...”they promised.” Clearly…we’re not the crazy ones. Yea…ok.
                Second…”a power greater than ourselves.” Easy for you to say. I was raised in a Catholic household. I went to church every week, I went through PSR, communion, confirmation…etc. But I didn’t believe for one second. I mean how could I? These horrible things were happening to me...and no matter how hard I prayed…I couldn’t get it to stop. If there was some “higher power”…what was He waiting for??? I was a good kid, I said my prayers, I listened to my mom (sometimes), I brushed my teeth…why wouldn’t He help me? And on the other hand…maybe I wasn’t a good kid. I spent so much time thinking that I had done something horribly wrong. I didn’t have the slightest clue what I’d done, but why else would I be punished so harshly?
                Step 2 was hard to accept. Possibly one of the hardest for me. But it came with time. I saw the craziness in the things I was doing, and I gave this “greater power” a chance to help. I couldn’t live that way anymore…and I wanted some glimpse of what a life without all the chaos would be like.


  1. One of my favorite 'recovery sayings' is:
    "The definition of insanity is doing the same things over an over and expecting different results". This applies both to addicts and enablers.