The twelfth and last step is my favorite. The new life promised has arrived. Notice I didn’t say perfect new life, I said new. When placed side by side against the old life, the improvement is astounding beyond words. I look at the last step as three different parts. The first part is a statement of fact as it reads “Having Had.” It is the only step presented in the past tense. If you diligently work the other eleven steps you will have had a spiritual awakening. That doesn’t mean that you got turned into a holy roller or even a church going member. What it does mean is that you now are living life on the premise that #1, you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else, #2, you live your life in a sane, safe and sober way, #3 you say what you mean while you mean what you say, and #4, you try to be of service to others. I believe that by definition that equates to a God centered life whether you believe in a specific deity or not. And that is vastly different than the way you did life before recovery.

The second aspect in the twelfth step is about carrying that message that has so freely been given to you. Whenever I am trying to push someone to start to sponsor and they show hesitancy, I ask them what they have received as a result of doing this work, then I listen. Their gratitude and heartfelt thanks is a constant answer. Then I make a hard statement: if you don’t give it away you’re a thief! One who takes and never re-plants! Most of the time that hesitancy is driven and riddled with self-doubt about doing it right, it’s a mental dilemma everyone goes through until you actually do sponsor someone. The entire process is one big growth opportunity. As a sounding board for someone whose life is falling apart, you will certainly leave feeling thankful you’re not him. That’s a great blessing.

12 stepsIn Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) the last part of the twelfth step reads “in all of our affairs.” In Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) that would be problematic. It is at this point that SLAA changes the original language of the Twelve Steps to fit their program. The SLAA twelfth step reads “practice these principles in all areas of our lives.” It’s a better fit if you get my drift.

I recently gave one of my men an assignment to write what a great relationship would look like since he had never had one. It was conjecture at best. What he wrote for me hit the nail on the head. What would a God centered recovery based relationship look like? Here is what he wrote:

“We’re honest with each other.  We sit down every night and recap our days; we genuinely want to know and understand each other’s point of view.  We sympathize with frustrations and celebrate joys.  We dance and laugh together, we cry and hold each other.  We move forward independently in our lives and careers, supporting each other, trying to be the best humans we can be, allowing God to act through us.  We help each other achieve our goals, and reassure each other when we fail.  We integrate with our community, reaching out and taking part.  We do our best, but we aren’t attached to any particular outcome.  We play, we laugh, we bring other people into our lives.  When alone, in private, we make love: spontaneously, joyously, as a natural outgrowth of the love we already feel for each other.  It is a shared need: not an obligation, a reward, or a currency, but an expression of our passion for each other.  We care for each other’s bodies the way we care for each other’s minds and souls: because we want to, because we feel compelled to do so by our love, empathy, and compassion for one another.  We are friends, we are partners, we are lovers.  We need each other, not to make each other whole, but to build something new and beautiful: a true, pure, God-centered partnership, something that opens us to joys we never before thought possible.” – Anonymous

What I believe is that there is no upper limit to human functioning or to what life can look like if you are healthy. We all have the potential to change and grow and there is no cap on that, it is endless. My favorite line in the gospel music classic “Amazing Grace” that always gets to me, reads “I once was blind but now I see.” Working a program of recovery can and will bring and deliver you out of the darkness and into the light.

Over the course of the past year I have written on each step trying to point out the value of doing this work, as labor intensive as it is. I encourage those along the journey to not quit and for those on the cusp of becoming willing to be willing to remember that misery is optional and there is a way out. As I always say, don’t leave before the miracle and you are the miracle!

Call me if you are attracted to this new life.