awkakenDanny S. who is apparently somewhere in New England has a blog called Real Live Recovered AlcoholicI found him by googling something like 12 step recovery blogs. Not surprisingly I was drawn by another 12 Stepper using ‘recovered.’

What a hoot! The more I poke around his site, he’s been blogging there since 2003 apparently, the more it seems he and I see the 12 Step program in much the same way. But not exactly, at least not exactly the same, what, tone?

For example, in his post, Dr. Bobs NightmareDanny says, first quoting the Big Book, then commenting:

“Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience.” ~ (Dr. Bob on Bill W’s approach) THE DOCTOR’S NIGHTMARE

BINGO!  Bob understands Bill’s description of the alcoholic. It is identification, without which not much is ever accomplished.

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stepsbwStep 12 says, among other things, we’re to “practice these principles in all our affairs.” As I said in my article on Step 12, there isn’t a list with the title ‘The 12 Principles.’ If you google the term you’ll usually come up with a list of sites and blogs that one way or another says the 12 Steps are the principles.

Which is fine as far as it goes. But how do we actually practice the principles or ‘all the steps’ in our daily life, day in and day out?

One short answer is, of course, practice! That may be the long and only answer as well, come to think of it.

Part of the practice of the 12 Steps, in addition to letting go of our addiction, is to address our issues – those patterns of thinking that keep getting in our way of having serenity – however you want to define any of that. Some of those are huge issues, but there are some smaller ones along the way as well.

But over and over again I’ve found it’s my issues that get in the way of my happiness or my serenity. For example, when I’m angry and unwilling to see and confront that anger I get antsy. And that feeling of anxiousness will increase until I’ve figured out what’s going on with me.

I had an example recently – and silly as it seems… well, let me tell you the story.

About a year ago my now 17 year old cat began spending less and less time with me indoors. At first I thought it was because of other cats that had wandered into our lives that I’d adopted. I recently moved and now MzTiz has me all to herself – no additional cats and for a while she stayed indoors more, sleeping near me in the office during the day, and often on the bed with me at night… then she started only coming in for meals. Not too long ago I realized I was furious with her and if you know cats, you know there’s simply no point in being angry with them – they will do what they will do. Little beasts enforcing acceptance! Once I got in touch with that anger I was able to let it go and I feel better. Hasn’t changed MzTiz’s behavior, but I’m not quite as nuts as I was.

Another example. A few days ago a friend whom I met while meditating at a Buddhist Temple told me he’s become a Christian. I could feel my resistance even as I was saying something about being glad it worked for him. By the time I got home I was able to admit that my resistance was really a cover for the fear that I might become Christian. This is a potential hot button for me that goes back to my adult relationship with my father. As soon as I saw the fear I was able to let it go with even a bit of a chuckle.

Both of these are examples of living the program, of practicing the principles. Sometimes the issues seem small, sometimes large. Some are easier to let go of than others, but if we keep doing the work, life levels off to some extent and we move from reacting to responding. We’re able to be more in the moment and less in worrying about the past or the future. That being in the moment is one of my definitions of serenity. In fact, serenity and enlightenment have a lot in common I suspect.

How about you? What’s your definition of serenity? How do you get there? What do you do when you notice it’s gone? Share with us in comments it you like.

Love, blessings and abundance.

Anne W. Powerfully Recovered



Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Karen_O’D

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no secrets?One of the unofficial slogans you’ll hear at 12 Step Recovery meetings is ‘your only as sick as your secrets!’

My sense of this saying is it’s mostly true and designed to help people be more honest with themselves, and as a result, more honest with others. But I wonder about the part that says if I’ve got secrets I’m sick… but the slogan wouldn’t work as well if I tried to make it something like: You can get in trouble by keeping most secrets. It’s much more pithy the other way.

To some degree it’s true, at least for those of us in 12 Step recovery.

When I came into A.A. I really thought I’d hidden my drinking from most people – and that thought of hiding the drinking or whatever addiction, is a perfect example of how secrets can make us sick.

It’s true, I suspect with all addictions. In my case I can tell you exactly how sick my secret drinking or even my public drinking made me. The same was true of my drug use and of my debting and underearning.

Letting go of shame

Of course, behind that secret keeping is shame because at some level we know we’re out of control and in trouble – we just don’t know, or don’t want to know, what we can do about it. [click to continue…]

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13thstepYou don’t have to be in 12 Step recovery long before you hear the terms, “13th Step” and “13th Stepping.”

The definition is simple – someone with more time preys on a newcomer, usually for sex and/or sometimes for money. Generally it’s men who hustle women newcomers, but sometimes it’s the women who hustle men. Of course, gay, lesbians, etc. have been known to do the same.

It’s an example of how one person has power over another and exercises it in a detrimental way.

The term came to mind recently when I  came across the only recent and complete story I found is at ProPublica – Twelve Steps to Danger: How Alcoholics Anonymous Can Be a Playground for Violence-Prone Members by Gabrielle Glaser who has been getting a lot of press recently around the subject and who has written a book called Her Best-Kept Secret – apparently about why women drink. [click to continue…]

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Down Memory Lane

You know you’re an old timer or bleeding deacon when someone contacts you asking about the history of AA in your area! Yes, it’s now happened to me and although I don’t feel that old, one truth is that I am. I’ve now been sober and clean over half my life! And yes, I remember […]

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Four Ways To Trick Yourself Into Going To Meetings

In every 12 Step Program, one of  the major suggestions for success is attending meetings. And for the most part, that’s pretty good advice. It’s not always easy to follow, as you probably already know. In fact, I don’t know anyone with any time in Program who hasn’t experienced resistance and reluctance to going to […]

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How Narcotics Anonymous Helped Me

I had been sober in AA a bit more than a year when Biker Ray heard me mutter about my drug use. I’d just realized I had a collection of 10 or 12 prescription bottles for codeine, each of which had one, two, or three tablets in it. Mostly these had been prescribed for tooth […]

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Why She Drinks – My Take

I got two emails concerning the Wall Street Journal’s article, Why She Drinks: Women and Alcohol Abuse. Actually the second was an excerpt of the article without any credits posted on a private forum I belong to – it’s been taken down. I’m never quite sure what to make of the rediscovery that one segment or another […]

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When It Doesn’t Go Your Way

The check doesn’t arrive. You don’t get the job. You get laid off. Your spouse doesn’t call. The car breaks down. The bus is late. You end up waiting over an hour for your appointment with the doctor. Your favorite candidate loses. You discover your favorite soft drink is bad for you. The list of […]

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Anonymity – Another Look At Tradition 11

Over at TheFix columnist Susan Cheever has an article titled AA Remains Deep in Denial About Anonymity. It’s worth a read I think because she examines why anonymity breaks can be a good thing. Obviously, I agree with her. I published Powerfully Recovered! under my full name after much pacing because I didn’t want to hide my challenge […]

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