So, by now, we’ve admitted we cannot indulge in our addictions at all without setting off the phenomenon of craving. We have come to believe in something more than ourselves and have decided to let that higher power lead our lives. We’ve taken an inventory, admitted our part, decided to live differently and humbled ourselves to receive direction. We’ve listed out all the relationships which needed work and went to work reconciling them. And now our lives are perfect and we can just bask in the everlasting glow of awesomeness.
When I first got sober, I was told that 10, 11 and 12 are our living steps – the maintenance phase. They are the only ones we can do out of order. Why should we keep compiling resentments, waiting until we get around to step 4 to deal with them? If we realize we’ve done something stupid, shouldn’t we deal with it as soon as we can instead of letting it fester like we usually do? Sure, we won’t know the best way to do things until later… and we’ll never do things perfectly, but we should begin practicing our new lives as soon as possible.
The steps are simply tools which teach us how to deal with life. Shit still happens and we’re still the same people we’ve always been. We’re still going to make stupid mistakes and get butt-hurt over bitty offenses. The difference is that just the way AA ruins drinking forever, once we’ve done the steps we can no longer pretend that the whole world is out to get us or that we are worthless jerks who can do nothing but hurt the ones we love.
Oh, we still try, though! Even after five years, I can sit in my manufactured misery crying “Woe is me!” with the best of them. The longer I do that, though, the closer I get to engaging in other old behaviors. Next thing I know, I’m lashing out at people who love me, phoning it in at work, cursing traffic and the birdies who serenade me in the morning and just being a generally miserable human being. If I spend enough time wallowing in self pity and resentment, I will surely drink again and for me, to drink is to die. I can’t rest on past achievements. I must examine my life on a daily basis and make corrections to ensure that I stay on the right track.
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[e]being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18