After being in the program for a while, it occurred to me that initially, there was no way I could have performed all the measures suggested in the 12 Steps, let alone in Step Ten, on my first go-around. We come from an alcoholic’s approach to the issues we plan to address. We eventually come to understand that we can only give it our best effort to start the process.
Understanding the disease of alcoholism takes time. We can, however, establish a framework without concluding we finished the steps. As we continue to grow in the program more will be revealed about the steps taken. And, that is where Step Ten becomes the opportunity to revisit past steps and fill in the empty spaces as we evolve.
That does not mean we cannot address those issues when we become aware of them. If we stay sober long enough to get to this level of understanding, we will continue to repair our broken relations with others. We also can clear up legal, marital and financial problems that can be a distraction when it comes to looking at the deeper rooted emotional, mental and spiritual issues.
We cannot ignore the need for up-keep and maintenance in the program. Just like we cannot ignore the upkeep and maintenance when we purchase a new car. Brake shoes wear thin, oil gets dirty, coolant evaporates and so on. The same effect takes place in the process of recovery. If we become complacent at any level of this process — as it often happens — we may relapse or, miss out on the promises set forth in Step Nine.
Step Ten of AA, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it” (BB p 59). I believe that most of the members of AA, who actually go through the steps as suggested in the Big Book, have been doing this to some degree since they became aware of it in the 4th and 5th steps. And, the reason why they reintroduced us to this topic in Step Ten. It was to make it clear that we will continue to do this for the rest of our lives.
There is a line that we cross if we are committed to the goal of becoming the best we can be in life. This is where we stop asking “Why we must do all the things that the program suggests?” to a point where we start asking the question “Why wouldn’t we do these things that result in freedom of the mind?” The biggest misconception we have is the idea that, somehow, we are responsible for becoming an alcoholic. And, this is simply not the case.
When we were born, we did not have the capacity to decide to become afflicted with the disease of alcoholism. You might say that alcoholism is a byproduct of guilt, shame and low self-esteem based on habits and deeds of the past.
When we took our first drink, it did something for us that it did not do for the normal person. It masked all our fears and insecurities temporarily. But, did not erase those embarrassing behaviors from our minds and our conscience.
We behaved poorly as we evolved through our adolescence and young adulthood. Which was due to the fears and inhibitions associated with alcoholism. Who could fault the person who discovers they have a disease and takes it upon themselves to treat that disease? Yet, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous restores us. And, lets us take account of all of the faulty behaviors that stem from that disease, make restitution and become model citizens.
This is the natural development that evolves as the result of taking the 12 Steps. And, continuing the upkeep and maintenance process. I thank God that the program of Alcoholics Anonymous has taken one hell of a load off my mind. And, I am mentally at peace when my head hits the pillow at night.
By Rick R.