12 Step Clear Cut Directions Are Not on the Wall

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12 steps traditions wall

Before studying the Big Book, I thought if I memorized the Twelve Steps from the clubhouse wall or from pages 59 and 60, then practiced them every day, that mental obsession would finally disappear. It didn’t work! After five months sobriety I marched into a bar with gin and tonic on my lips. I was in deep chicken fat trouble!

I didn’t order that drink, thanks to God, but I was terrified!

Returning home, I immediately prayed to be shown the path to sobriety. God answered with a new sponsor who taught me the clear-cut directions directly out of the Big Book.

We read on page 29 that: “Further on Clear-cut directions are given showing how we have recovered.” We then read the “outline” on pages 59 and 60. It was explained that these are not the clear-cut directions of recovery; the 12 Steps hanging from the meeting room walls are also not the program of recovery! Both are simply a description of what the Big Book is going to explain further on.

Bill Wilson tells you what he is going to tell you (as above); then he tells you the directions on pages 60 thru 103, then he tells you what he told you on page 164—3rd full paragraph.

Please notice how many directions exist in Step 3. Step 4 has more than I can count—Plus it shows how to face and be rid of our defects, etc.  Step 10 has five directions.

I believe a newcomer is being short-shrimped when taught that the steps on the wall are sufficient for recovery. Here are a few important bits of information not found on the wall:

Step Three: The 3rd Step promises, the 3rd step Prayer, and who to do it with, or not. That Step 3 is only a beginning.

Step Four: When to begin Step 4. Why we need to do this step. How to face and be rid of resentment by using a spiritual tool and a logical tool. How to be rid of irrational fear. How to develop a new sex ideal.

Step Five: When to do this step and where it comes from. Whom to do it with. Precautions about sharing particulars. Why this step is so important. Discover the 5th Step promises.

Step Six: When to be convinced we are ready to allow God to remove defects blocking our sobriety. Suggested prayer for help.

Step Seven: A humble request for God to remove the “bondage of self, “now that we realize what they are.

Step Eight: Explains where our list comes from. Offers a prayer to help to complete this list.

Step Nine: When to begin making amends. Why to make amends. How to prepare how to present your amends. How to handle financial amends. How to avoid jail time for alimony. What amends are inappropriate. Forgiveness.

Step Ten: Explains this step is for a lifetime. On the wall and page 59 and 60 there are only two directions, but on page 85 there are five clear-cut directions. We learn the important 10th Step promises.

Step Eleven: How to pray at night, morning and through the day. How to find forgiveness. 11th Step promises.

Step Twelve: Prerequisites for 12-stepping. Rewards for carrying this message. What message to carry. How to prepare before approaching a newcomer.

By Bob S.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.