Thursday, December 16, 2010

HOPEFUL PERSPECTIVES



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”

                I love art!  It moves me, excites me, angers me, gives me joy, brings up sadness, and a host of other emotions.  So, I found a picture I’d like to share with you this month at the top of this article.  It’s a very simple shot of a cathedral/sanctuary somewhere in the world.  I don’t know anything about what building it is a part of or how long it has been there.  I only know what I see….a small entry in the distance and wide row of columns that expand as the picture gets closer to the viewer. 
                If you look near the center of the picture, you’ll see a small doorway.  This is a great image for the small bit of hope many addicts see when someone invites them on the journey of the 12 steps.  It’s a hope that is full of light but a very small, narrow, even square, light that quietly whispers, ‘this is the way’.  Just as the steps expand our hope and the possibilities of sobriety and recovery, so too as we travel from the small doorway in the picture and out into the cavernous, stony, Gothic structure our vision expands until we reach the widest point closest to the viewer.  This is the perfect segue for the step of the month: 
Step 12.  
                When we started down the “12 Step Road” this past January, we began with a sliver of hope offered by an admission of powerlessness in Step 1.  We continued to expand our hope in Steps 2 and 3 through the exploration, discovery of, belief in, and surrender to a higher power of our own choosing.  Our journey took a look back at our past in Step 4 so we could be thorough as we sought to clean our spiritual/moral house.  We experienced acceptance and community as we shared these things with a sponsor and our higher power.  Steps 6 and 7 widened our hopes by help us face our character defects and releasing them to our higher power for spiritual surgical removal.  Once surrendered, we continued down the path of hope by listing all the people we had harmed because of our addiction and got ready to make amends through Step 9.  Once this work was complete, we learned a new, hopeful way of daily living through Step 10 (daily amends) and Step 11 (daily spiritual reflection).  And now, we stand at the widest part of our path and our last step of the year, Step 12.  Let’s do it!
                Step 12 is so important in recovery for several reasons.  First, it helps the sober addict to get outside of his/her own head.  Often times, we get stuck in our own obsessive thoughts and not outside of our heads into actual reality.  Getting outside of our minds helps keep relapse away by dealing with reality as it is.  The reality is that there are many people still lost in addiction who need to hear the message of hope.  They need someone to open that small door of hope and invite them in to a different journey and lifestyle. That someone just may be you!
                Second, Step 12 helps the sober addict to stay sober by reminding him/her of where they came from: a dark, windowless space that was lonely, scary, and pitiful.  By speaking with another addict who is currently active in their addiction, the sober addict should get a sober reminder (pardon the pun) of what active addiction looks like, sounds like, thinks like, and even smells like (unfortunately lol). 
                Last, Step 12 helps the sober addict remain sober because it instills a vision for life that is greater than him/her, namely, helping others.  It is in helping others that we help ourselves.  Compassion towards others can also help us practice compassion towards ourselves as well. 
                As we close down 2010, let me invite you to take a look at your perspective towards sobriety and recovery at this point in the year.  Is it hopeful or hopeless?  How has it changed?  How has it stayed the same?  Where could you go from here to have a fuller, more vibrant sobriety?  What things about yourself would you like to change in the coming year?  What kind of perspective would you like to have regarding sobriety this time in 2011? 
                Finally, remember that life is about perspective and I invite you to embrace 2011 with a ‘hopeful perspective’!  Enjoy this season of the year and all that it means to you and yours!

Chris Newcomb, Aftercare Coach/Coordinator

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