The 12 Steps To Serenity

Ben‑Enwonwu‑Negritu

Self-Care Tip #154 – Go towards Love.

I realize that many of us talk about the 12-Steps, we know people working the 12-Steps, we even recommend the 12-Steps but have never read them through.  So here they are.  For all of us.  A wonderful walk with and towards love.

The 12 Steps To Serenity

  • Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  • Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out
  • Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

Question:  What do you think of these steps?  Please tell me your story.

Do The Opposite. For Your Self.

Condomaniac

Image by VideogameVisionary.com via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #121 – Do the opposite, do the “un,” and go where you don’t want to go.  Be a friend to yourself.

Frank, accomplished in chess, employed in a 3 digit salary job, married with children, and he heard that things were going well.  From other people.  In his opinion, Frank believed the inside life-details were more destructive than the redemption of the apparent details.  Frank listed himself off to me like a confession, but he got little relief from the exercise.  It didn’t change that he was still addicted to sex, ashamed and the addiction was changing his ability to function in the other areas of his life.  He was taking more risks and realized that if he didn’t get clean, he’d lose “everything” but the addiction.  Not wanting the addiction didn’t make it go away.

How many of us wrinkle our nose at the Frank’s out there!  How we avert.  Either side is not really good or bad.  It just is.  Frank is addicted.  And we are ignorant.  Sex addiction is in the recesses and communes of where any of us live.  And, “we” are no better than they or worse.  It just is that way.  The qualifiers are the stink that kill our connections.  The qualifiers are rotten.

One thing I love about Jesus’ earth-story is that He was always un-everything.  He was Un-segregation, un-rules, un-prejudice, un-divided, and many people thought he was un-qualified.  Wherever these things were, He went there.  I love seeing people who use Him to draw lines between their spaces.  To say, “This is because Jesus wouldn’t…”  Hmm.  Jesus wasn’t scared of mucking up in the chaos of people’s lives.  Jesus not being scared is actually the wrong way to say it.  Let’s say rather, Jesus honed in straight to the muck and chaos, drawn there because He couldn’t and didn’t want to stay away.  We are not so loving as that but who cares about motives?  I also say with confidence that Jesus/God understood biology much better than we did then, now or will.

When we can look at each other objectively, when we don’t personalize what isn’t about us, we can let go of some of what separates us.  It goes both ways.  We are afraid of Frank and what he does.  Frank is afraid of what he does and of us.  But it’s not the fear so much as it is the qualifiers that ruin us.  Bad, good, Clang!  Down go the dividers.

None of this is meant to minimize the pain that these things bring on, such as addiction.  Rather, taking away whatever is dividing us helps us be more present with the pain, with each other, and often leads to healing.  It is another opposite, another “Un,” another Jesus-move.  Doing just the opposite of what we think should be done.  Got to love that Man!

Why would any of “us” want to be connected to the addict, or to whomever is doing something hurtful, scary, negative whatever it may be?  Why?  For your self of course.  Our life is better if we are.  That is a motive I think is worth pursuing.

Question:  How has your life gotten better when you did the opposite of what you felt like doing?  Please tell me your story.

Get Treatment to Move On – Addictions

Molested by his cousin, neglected by his parents, he watched his intoxicated father beat his mother.  Thinking she would die too many times, he ran away, returned in a police car over and over again, as if wanting to get away was a crime.  He came back and raped his neighbor, more than once.  He spent a lot of time trying to get sex even though he knew it was ruining him and others.  He lost interest in almost everything else.  He suffered uncontrollable impulses.

He was 18 years old when he left it all for the safety of prison.  During the next fifteen-some years he was diagnosed, treated, and kept.  But kept for what?  For eating.  He gained weight, until he needed 2 seats to sit in.  Eating became his preoccupation.  He didn’t have sex.  He had food.

He was released to a home for sexual offenders, put on a diet and lost weight.  He lost it big and fast and felt in control.  He started purging and not finishing his meals.  He thought about purging all the time.  He knew he shouldn’t do it.  His voice was changing, raspy and his throat hurt but he still purged.  He wasn’t having sex.  He wasn’t over-eating.  He was purging.

For whatever reason, no one had yet seen the pattern.  Mostly everyone saw sex offender.  Me included.  I was trying.  I was trying to treat him with empathy, trying to get past the bile that comes when I think of rape, trying to consider the courageous things this man was doing now in life.

In one of my favorite scenes from the film, Rachel Getting Married, Kim played by Anne Hathaway argues with her sister about her own chances to have a future:

Rachel: Kym, you took Ethan for granted. Okay? You were high for his life. You were not present. Okay? You were high.
Kym: [Whispering] Yes.
Rachel: And you drove him off a bridge… and now he’s dead….
Kym: Yes, I was. Yes, I was stoned out of my mind. Who do I have to be now? I mean, I could be Mother Teresa and it wouldn’t make a difference, what I did. Did I sacrifice every bit of… love I’m allowed for this life because I killed our little brother?

I thought of this and somehow through all that trying, I did. And because I could empathize, a space opened up for me to be more objective.  That’s when I saw it.  I saw the pattern.

Addictions migrate.  Someone who may have started out as a food addict, might turn to gambling, and then later to alcohol.  Someone with sex addiction, might turn to food and then later to purging.

It can be like that game I used to play at Chucky Cheese, trying to hammer down the little animals that pop out of holes.  We need to treat the disease of Addiction regardless of how it’s dressed, or else it will keep popping up.  And like Kym, if we do, although perhaps terribly wrong in some unchangeable ways, we will still have a future.  If you’d like to read more about this “kainos” (Greek word for the opportunity to be made new,) read the post New versus New.

Self Care Tip #62 – Get treatment to move on.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What do you think?  Please tell me your story.

Keep it In The Relationship

She is a level-headed woman generally.  Objective by nature.  But now she asks, “What should I think?”  No longer taking birth control because she says she doesn’t need it.  They aren’t having sex.  Her husband uses porn and now openly gawks at other women walking by.  She says she doesn’t really care.

When a couple stops touching, the relationship is virtually over.  Few people revive their intimacy after too much time without sex.  Not everyone will believe this and may think it is too primitive for a true relationship of love.  But that’s the stats folks.  What to do if you physically can’t have intercourse?  Figure it out.  Must touch for intimacy.  Sounds like a bumper sticker.

Reminds me of a mighty river that suffers interference of dams and rerouting waterways.  Eventually a dry riverbed that once roiled with current and depth is left baking in the sun.  Even Paul the Apostle who never married recognized that if you aren’t physically intimate with your spouse, your nonphysical connection is also lost.

Physical intimacy is of course only one paradigm of intimacy.  And just about any one can say that, “Sex doth not a love make.”  Nor am I talking about finances, floss left in the shower, or how someone squeezes the bottle of toothpaste.  But whatever the many reasons are explaining the space on the couch, it ain’t good.  

So what did I tell her?  I certainly didn’t tell her “What she should think.”  I did review that we can’t trust our feelings.  “That’s true” she said.  “I hadn’t thought of that.”  Feelings lie all the time.

Question:  What do you think?  Agree or disagree.

Self Care Tip #59 – Keep it in the relationship.  Be a friend to yourself.

This Side of the Fence

When taking care of ourselves, we are taking care of others.  It might be counterintuitive.  There is a circle service can turn us in.  I give to you, I take care of you, I start realizing at some level that I’m not being taken care of, I hold you responsible now for my neglect, and then around again.  Some support this pattern from cultural influences.  Some with intuition.

This can be a place we find ourselves in our relationship to anything or anyone.  Employment or even unemployment.  We may find ourselves saying things like why me, or feeling like we are selected out by some greater force to suffer.  Any time self-reflection whispers anything about the word “victim,” look for the “circle-walk.”

Now some listening to this might say service is the best thing of their lives and imply that without service, life isn’t right.  Sure.  However, that’s not my argument.  Mine is that taking care of one’s own self is also a form of service to others.  In fact, let’s boldly put taking care of one’s self at the top of the service list.  Standing up there can feel awkward, presumptive, selfish, unChristian.  What does it feel like for you?

I’m told 😉 this is hard.  It is.  We just try our best.  Every day we try again.  Every moment we remember, we try.  My husband often says, “God is a God of second chances.”  I think He wants us to treat ourselves with as much courtesy.

In addictions therapy, we tell the addict that a relapse isn’t a failure, it is part of the road to recovery.  When we take care of ourselves, we may find ourselves up against any number of forces, including patterned negative behaviors. We can learn from the brave people fighting the disease of addiction. When we don’t treat ourselves well, we are not a failure.  Rather we are on the road to becoming a better friend to ourselves.  That also takes courage.

Onward and upward my friends!  Let me know what you think.

Self Care Tip #28 – Look at your own side of the fence.  Be a friend to yourself.