Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Alcoholism, Sobriety, and Recovery - a Step Ten Spiritual Experience

I listened to them fight. Like I used to be, she is sensitive, defensive, discontent, irritable, and miserable. Unlike me, she is only ten years old and has never touched a drop of alcohol. Yet, she thinks and acts like one who is drinking herself into an early grave.

Like my husband, my other daughter is selfless, kind, loving, as well as hurt and confused about why the former spews venomous words and blames her for all that is wrong in life. Unlike my husband, she is only five years old and was born into this alcoholic family rather than married into it.

Doesn’t matter…we all have alcoholism and sometimes it really sucks.

I have a sponsor, my daughter has a counselor, and we both have psychiatrists and God. I hate what I see and I cry because I can’t fix her any more than I can fix myself.

Step One: I am powerless.

Step Two: I believe God will restore my sanity (and my daughter's)

Step Three: and at times, I allow Him to restore mine.  The times when I don't is when I focus on my fears.  For example, I become scared to death for my children and agonize over the pain of living from which I cannot completely protect them.

Step Four: During these times, it is best for me to write out my fears and the ways in which I may be harming them by not allowing them to feel their own growing pains, for example.

Step Five: I discuss these things with my sponsor on a regular basis merely because they surface on a regular basis.

Step Six: I want God to remove my fears and seemingly selfless actions that are, in reality, an attempt to relieve the suffering I experience when I see my children suffering.

Step Seven: I ask God to remove these fears, defects, and shortcomings from me as He sees fit.

Step Eight: I place myself at the top of the list and any others whom I have harmed.

Step Nine: I make amends to myself for the browbeating I often inflict on my own conscience (which only fuels my alcoholism.)

Step Ten:  ???   Oh, Step 10, where are youuuuu???

It is at this exact point in my recent working of the steps, in which flames of “you’re a terrible mother” and “look at what you did to these kids” and “this is all your fault” ignite; my alcoholism trying to convince me that I have power; that some how I can control my life and my children's lives. 

If I believe these lies, which I often do, I go along living life until I, once again, experience enough pain to return to Step One (and admit my powerlessness, once again!)

Insidious disease!!! I haven’t worked Step 10 in months. The others, many times as I described above.  However, even a thorough 4th -9th step-run only straightens me out for a few weeks and then I am back where I started.

I kept asking, “Why? Why?” and this weekend He told me, “...no Step 10 work.”

“She does steps 4-9 repeatedly. That’s the same thing…even BETTER than a step 10,” my disease retorted. God smiled and like that smart little dog from the Wizard of Oz who pulled back the curtain to reveal a mere man pretending to be a great and powerful Wizard, God revealed the simplicity and significance of Step 10 to me.

My focus has been on the great and powerful Steps 4-9 (which are great and powerful in their own right.) However, for me, Step 10 works behind the curtain tirelessly to maintain the phenomenal effects of 4-9, as the carnival man did to control the powerful effects of the “wizard.”

If I work step 10 on a daily basis, maybe I will be less likely to fall backwards as quickly as I have been on my Steps 4-9 every-other-month plan…that plan isn't in the Big Book!

I also wonder if skipping step 10 is the reason that steps 11 and 12 have been such chores for me lately...

Thank you, God.  Thank you, all.



  1. Glad you continue moving, I pray God and counselor, and your example as you demonstrate the principles of AA in all your affairs bring the healing and hope your daughter (and husband) need ;)

  2. Doesn't it always come down to our willingness to change our attitude and do the work necessary to grow? For some reason, until I'm driven to my knees with doubt and pain, I tend to coast. And being on my knees, oddly enough, is the place where change begins. God bless you.

  3. Enjoyed finding your blog. It seems for me that it is a daily challenge. Thinking about the steps, working the steps, working my program, remembering to detach with love. Being mindful everyday helps me get through.

  4. I really like Step 10. It tells me to be humble and to admit when I am wrong which is what I often am. Great post.

  5. Jess, thank you for your prayers

    enchanted oak, thank you for your thoughts. willingness is key, so they say :)

    cathy, thank you. it is a daily challenge for me as well. come back soon

    syd, yes! step 10 and humility - they are so intertwined...I forgot how much so. thanks.


Thank you for sharing!