Staring Into The Abyss, Choosing Not To Ride The Ride: Loving The Sanity Of The 12 Steps

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I’m not sure where this post is going to go, but I do know that I need to write something about how I am feeling today, how grateful I am for the 12 Steps in dealing with my codependency, how grateful I am that recovery is possible, and how aware I am of the fragility of my codependent sobriety. This work has helped me notice when I’m staring into the abyss, and given me the tools to choose a different path.


All it really takes is a phone call, really. That’s what it was today, though it really could be anything that, in the moment, pushes my buttons and has me scrambling to make things right for someone else, or to get control of a situation that cannot be controlled. Sometimes, my day job puts me in just the right crazy-making sweet spot…sometimes it’s interactions with my significant other. Today, it was a phone call.

Here’s where gratefulness steps into the picture:  I was able to see that the conversation I was being invited into wasn’t healthy. I was able to feel the wave of unhealthy response rising up in me. I was able to recognize all of this and give voice to my concerns, stating that the the conversation and what was being asked of me was endangering my recovery. (The phone call ended pretty quickly after I put down a solid boundary.)

I was able to see clearly, feel clearly, and respond honestly and effectively. This is a big deal for me. I am not always this good at recognizing what is going on, knowing that my buttons are being pushed, and getting myself out of the situation that is doing the pushing – my record is spotty at best – but today I am so aware that my sobriety is important, and worth the risk of discomfort.

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I am especially grateful that I was able to get past my initial knee-jerk reaction toward the 12-Steps being Christian, and was able to use their meat and their message to transform my life.I really fought doing this work for so long, partially because I wasn’t ready for it until I was ready for it, but also, in part, because of the Christian aspects of the language and customs of 12 Step groups. I could sometimes get over the language, substituting “Gods” or “Goddess,” but my real difficulty was with all the talk about turning my life and will over to God as I understood God (Step 3). “That’s just creating a crutch!” I used to tell myself, full of disdain. Conveniently I was unable to see that my god complex, my controlling and judging behaviors were a set of complex crutches all on their own. (I’m now in a place where I love the comfort and truth of the 3rd Step, and turn to it whenever I feel that I need to control for everything, when I feel that it’s all up to me, when I feel I need to get everything in my life exactly right or face dire consequences. It’s so freeing to remind myself that I’m not in control of everything, nor do I need to be!)

As I get older, I’m less likely to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I guess. The staunch and stubborn parts of me that railed against this work have had to take a step back in the face of how much this work has changed me and made my life happy and livable. It was also very helpful to have a very sane and sensible pagan mentor that also does 12 Step work to help me see said baby in said bathwater.

So yeah, thank you 12 Steps. Thank you for helping me step back from the edge, one day at a time.

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