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Old 06-17-2006, 07:55 AM   #1
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The 12 Steps Explained - Naranon

Step One

We admitted we were powerless over the addict—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step One may be easy to read and easy to agree with, at least on the surface. We can freely admit the fact that our lives are in real trouble. After all, that is why we finally came to Naranon.

It may not be so easy to admit we are powerless, or that we cannot control and manage our own lives. We may say it is not so: “It is the addict that is out of control—if I could only change him, I could manage very nicely, thank you.”

We have tried all kinds of things to show them how wrong they are. It seemed so obvious to us! “If only he would decide to stop using. If only I could do just that one right thing to make him stop. But none of it works; he is so stubborn, blind, uncaring and cruel.” If our lives were unmanageable, it was certainly not for lack of our trying! We have believed we were the only reason we have managed so long. After all, we have kept it together, alone, all this time.

The frustration and anger we feel clouds the issue, but slowly we begin to see that the parts of our lives that are unmanageable are not ours to manage. We are indeed powerless over the addict. All the manipulating and maneuvering has not helped. We cannot control and manage, because it is not our lives we are trying to manage. We must realize where our responsibilities end. We do not like it when our well-meaning relatives and friends try to tell us how to live. Neither do our loved ones (our addicts) like us to tell them. This is when we need to remember the Naranon reading, “we didn’t cause it; we can’t control it and we can’t cure it.”

The other part of Step One begins to become clear. We must let go of the addict’s part. We only prolong their struggle by meddling. We must stop our crazy compulsive behavior and let them dance with their addiction alone. We can stand back, without losing our love and compassion for them and “NOT DO”. It’s OK, it doesn’t cause a dramatic change, and it didn’t change when we “DID” either. Some of our craziness leaves and we realize we feel a little better. All it took was inaction.

Still, we feel resistance. The idea remains that perhaps we can “help” our addicts. We have not completely surrendered to the idea that we cannot stop their behavior, but the prize looms there in front of us. If only we could let go of that nagging voice to “do” that one little thing that will finally make the difference.

Try a little exercise with Step One. Substitute the name of your addict for the word addict, and then read through again in the first person. Then put another name in its place, and another, all belonging to people you have tried to change because YOU KNEW how THEY NEEDED TO CHANGE. Over and over say the lines.

Step Two

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Many of us have lived with or had relationships with addicts who have occupied a significant amount of our time, energy and thought around fixing that person. If we can fix it, we can control it. We can fix it had become our unwritten credo and obsession. It left little time for much else. In Step One, admitting that we were powerless over the addict left us time and emotional void.

Moving from Step One to Step Two presents us with a realization that our lives were less than sane. Are we ready to accept sanity? After all, insanity had become our norm.

Maybe if….I spend 24 hours a day with them, they won’t use.
Maybe if….I use with them, they won’t use as much.
Maybe if….I control the money, they can’t use.
Maybe if….I get so ill they’ll be forced to take care of me, they won’t use.
Maybe if….I become the ideal lover, wife, husband, parent, child, they won’t use.
Maybe if….I become the evil lover, wife, husband, parent, child, they won’t use.

We had committed ourselves to insanity: doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. Changing our commitment to living with sanity presented us with a challenge.

Many of us have not had a defined relationship with a Higher Power. Many of us had rejected a notion of a Higher Power at earlier times in our lives. It can be helpful, at first, to allow ourselves to admit to the possibility of a Higher Power. Sometimes, attempting to restore our trust in our own instincts and judgment can prepare us for acceptance.

Faith in a Higher Power may not strike us like a lightening bolt. The focus and emphasis of our daily lives change. We see different results from our actions. We feel more confident in the challenges and choices that life presents. We can begin to feel, enjoy, and trust again. Our Higher Power can free us from the anxiety we have carried.

It may take time to recognize our connection with our Higher Power. We slowly begin to let things happen. When we do this, glimmers of realization appear. We no longer expect that the worst will happen.

The phone no longer rings with the expectation of bad news. We choose not to be alone to wait, cry, and obsess. We have new reactions to things instead of having a set response. Things have changed. We begin to acknowledge that something or someone or some presence was caring for us in a sane way.

Sometimes other people’s images and descriptions of their Higher Power can help us connect with what we feel comfortable with: ~A ring of light ~ A cloud like presence that surrounds them ~ A sense of warmth and affection ~ Nature ~ A feeling of peace ~

Insanity was the result of our past behavior. Letting go of the control that created such a hold on us can be frightening, but, as we listen and learn from others, we can begin to feel and see miracles. Trust and acceptance in a Higher Power are bound to follow.

Step Three

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.


There is a saying in the AlaTeen Twelve Step Program that says, “God Can’t do his work if you’re standing in His way.”

Several years ago a popular song said, “If it don’t fit---don’t force it---just relax and let it go---Just cause you want it---doesn’t make it so.”

Some people use the three-strike rule. Try three times to force your will—and then turn it over to your Higher Power.

Many of us in Naranon find Step Three very difficult to apply to our lives. Some of us come to a stop at Step Three while others just step over it. We are not willing to turn our will and life over to a God or Higher Power that we don’t know or understand. For too long, we have been the controllers, the ones our families expect to fix things. A lot of times, we were there to help even when our help was not needed or wanted and even rejected. How many of us have called the addict’s employer, lied about their being late or not going to work? How many of us have paid the traffic tickets, the bails, the lawyers, the rent, the bills and covered up for them when they didn’t show up at family and social affairs? We got the information for the addicts about the recovery centers and meeting schedules. We took them to their meetings, and gave them advice on how many and how often they should attend. We have done (and some of us still do) for our addicts the things they need to do for themselves. We forced our will, and didn’t allow the will of the Higher Power to be done.

As we started to work this Step, most of us became confused about when we are helping and when we are hindering. Maybe if we could just remember that the addicts didn’t need our help when they started and continued their drug abuse, we might be able to step aside and allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions and seek their own recovery. Maybe if we could learn to “Let Go”, and apply the Serenity Prayer to our lives, we might be able to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God or a Higher Power.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

That’s right! An inventory of ourselves is necessary to progress in our recovery in Naranon. Taking our own inventory is a new idea for most of us. We are so used to putting the focus on our loved one. This is a program of personal progress and so we must put the focus on ourselves and work on improving our own lives.

For many of us, the first searching and fearless moral inventory is painful. We feel alienated from the person we want to be and have become a stranger to our own gifts. We are often living a life in conflict with our true nature. But we soon discover that it is also exciting to realize those life-affirming attributes within.

Perhaps if we look upon this inventory as a harvest of our inner garden, we will benefit from knowing our strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and our self-destructive behaviors. Are we power hungry? Are we possessive or jealous? Are we determined to do things our own way? Are we intolerant of differences? Do we try to smooth over disagreements or troubles? Do we indulge in gossip? Are we overly sensitive and quick to take offence at what others say? Do we let the needs of others govern us while we ignore our own? Are we willing to take responsibility for problems we’ve caused? Are we people-pleasers? Do we carry grudges? These are just a few of the weeds that choke our progress and well-being. We will benefit from changing our unhealthy behaviors and developing our strengths.

We have fear, resentment and anger that leave no room for growth. But in the process of weeding, we will use the first three Steps. When we face our powerlessness and inability to manage our own lives, we turn to our belief in a Higher Power who can restore us to sanity. Now we can focus on changing. We do this by carefully searching for the elements within our character that work and are life-supporting, and also by identifying our self-defeating and harmful behaviors. We call the weeds, weeds. We begin the process of practicing honesty with others and ourselves. We stop ignoring, hiding, covering up and denying that there is room for improvement in our lives. We become fearless in discovering what is working in our lives and what is hurting us and others.

Our Fourth Step feels like the lifting of denial when we first talked about the problems of addiction. Now we are dealing with our own problems, instead of the addict’s. Now we are beginning to grow healthy by pruning, weeding and appreciating ourselves. Our Fourth Step is a cleansing, a turning over of soil, giving air and making our burdens lighter.

Step Four is a process. We don’t unearth all of our character and leave it to fallow. We cultivate ourselves periodically, repeating the process. As we do this, we see our progress, we remember our journey and we rejoice in our Higher Power’s ability to guide us to a more fulfilling and joyful life.


Step Five

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

As we come farther in the program, we can see that not all the faults lie with the addict. We too, play our role in this madness that has passed for a personal life. Maybe we’ve gotten more comfortable with talking at meetings about the parts of our life we used to think would always be too painful to talk about, but all that is a far cry from having to sit down and make a list of our most revolting characteristics and reveal them to a sponsor, clergy or other human being.

Take heart! A lot of “insane” people have passed this way before us. They became saner, happier and more peaceful on this very path. Now that we have done our inventory, it’s time to admit these faults to our Higher Power and ourselves. Our Higher Power is there, ready to take on any burden we feel ready to let go of. No judgment, no criticism, just acceptance and an ever present love.

We have met people with whom we have experiences in common, have gotten to know each other, and have found people in the program we can depend on, when we really needed them.

“This was brand new for me. I used to think needing other people was as bad as dying. I’d rather die than need them, because if I needed them, they’d just let me down, and then things would be worse. But this needing stuff worked…NOW you’re telling me I’m supposed to admit my greatest faults, what I hate the most about myself?!?”

No more excuses. No more blaming other people for the messes in our lives. At first, that sounds like a terrible idea. Actually, it’s a relief. We’ve worn so many faces to please the various people in our lives—bosses, neighbors, landlords, and family members. It is a real relief not to have to keep track of, “Now, who am I to this one?”

Of course, pick a safe person to share with. Because part of getting healthy is learning to use our own good judgment, trusting our intuition about what’s safe and what’s not. Want to hear the good news? It we are thorough, really thorough in doing our inventory…we’re going to find our good qualities, too—such as our ability to get things done; our compassion and forgiving nature; our ability to survive; our loving nature and giving spirit; our dependability and work ethic, etc. Our strengths that we have depended upon to survive can also be used for personal growth. These qualities are as much a part of us—in fact EQUAL to the faults and shortcomings we beat ourselves up with every day.

We can come out of Step Five stronger, knowing we can finally depend on ourselves. This realization is a real milestone on the road to personal freedom.

Step Six

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

One can break down this sentence into phrases to understand this very difficult Sixth Step. First of all, we must be ready. How do we know we are ready? We have read the literature, may have a step-study workbook and have spent numerous hours on the phone with our sponsors talking about this recovery/discovery process.

In frustration, we tried to change on our own. We learned that we must look to our Higher Power in this effort. All this took understanding and courage we didn’t know we had. We have gotten in touch with a Higher Power in Step Three. How can we be sure we are ready to let our Higher Power remove all our character defects?

Being ready means identifying our defects—letting go of our old ways—envisioning how we want to be—trusting a Higher Power for help and guidance. In meetings, we have listened as others experience miracles of self-discovery and recovery each week. This is evidence of our magnificent Higher Power making significant changes in our attitudes, habits and beliefs. To be ready is to trust. There is a better way for each of us. When we begin to imagine what changes are going to be necessary and use the program to get there, we are ready. We have already begun to have an understanding of the impact of a Higher Power, so we can trust that these self-destructive character defects can and will be removed. Criticism, resentment, getting into slippery situations, dishonesty, fears, obsessive thinking and focusing on others rather than ourselves are some examples of self-destructive behaviors. Imagine replacing these defects with healthy attitudes and actions!

Criticism of ourselves can be replaced with supportive acknowledgement that recovery is a process. Criticism of others can be replaced with acceptance of who they are and detachment from their problems.

“I used to expect him to be faithful because that was my value system. I didn’t realize that in his disease, he was incapable of it. Now I protect myself by setting boundaries.” “I stopped taking on guilty feelings for his actions and the consequences. I began to take responsibility for my own actions.” “I stopped allowing him to manipulate me.” “I saw I was blaming him for everything.”

We got to this place by using the Twelve Steps, reading Naranon literature, asking for support from others in the program and doing service. We avoid unhealthy situations, stop isolating, and ask ourselves when in uncomfortable situations, “What do I want to do about this?”

We learn to fill our time with activities that promote and support our well-being. We begin to manage our time, our stress and to take care of ourselves. Are we procrastinating? Are we taking responsibility for ourselves, our families and our jobs? As we begin to forgive ourselves for these defects, we begin to have more energy and to focus on what is important. When we express our feelings within the Naranon meetings, we begin to be honest. At each meeting, we practice honesty and witness the effects of honest communication. We gain courage and resolve from the success of others. We become willing to risk being honest to our Higher Power, to ourselves, and to another human being.

Steps One through Three lay a foundation for change, but a person burdened with secrets rarely feels courageous enough to change. Step Four helps us to identify all our defects of character. Then, Step Five leads us to admit our failing to a Higher Power, to ourselves and to another person, so that we become ready to change, and as our Serenity Prayer says, gives us “courage to change the things we can”. Thank goodness for Step Six, which turns our failures into growth, our misery into trust. Change is possible in Naranon!
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Old 06-17-2006, 07:56 AM   #2
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Step Seven

Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.

There are Naranon members who will say that when they first read this Step they thought, “This one is for the addict, not me!” Because the Twelve Steps were adopted from Narcotics Anonymous, some of us thought they were given to us in Naranon just to let us know about one of the tools the addicts would be using during their recovery. We felt we could pick and choose the steps we wanted to use, believing they could not all apply to us because we were perfect. But, after attending several meetings, it dawned on us that we must also use all of the Steps, including Step Seven. This Step makes us realize that humbly means to yield our will to the Higher Power’s will. After this, we then must be willing to ask the Higher Power to remove our flaws.

Before Naranon, many of us believed we had no shortcomings. After all, the addicts did. Naranon opened our eyes so we could see how judgmental, manipulative and self-righteous most of us were. We saw how we manipulated the addict through:

Our money—You’re not going to get my money to use for drugs.
Our bodies—I don’t want to make love to an addict.
Our words—I can’t talk to you and you don’t listen.
Our negative attitudes—I’m better than you because you’re an addict.

We knew the best way to live, the right way. Our way was the only way.

Resentment, anger and fear were our emotions. There was no room in our hearts for tolerance, patience and good will. We thought joy and happiness were not ours because of the addict. We blamed our unfortunate state of affairs on the addict. We believed we were justified in our judgments.

When we finally worked on Step Seven and asked the Higher Power to remove these shortcomings, we began to live a better life. We learned to be humble and admit our wrongs. We have found that we don’t know what is right for others. We are finding that many of us don’t even know what is right for ourselves. We learned we do have choices. Our own joy and happiness is our responsibility.

Through changed attitudes, we know that just like the addicts, we must accept the consequences of our actions. As we use the Steps in our daily affairs, we will continue to humbly ask the Higher Power to remove our shortcomings. Yes, we have shortcomings.

Step Eight

Made a list of all those we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

If we want to stop reading now, we should realize that the only physical action is the first part—“to make a list”. The second part, “…became willing…” indicates that we’re ready for more recovery. If we don’t think we need to make amends for anything, we should look through our Fourth Step work again. Reviewing character defects improves the memory.

Getting this far implies that we now understand we may occasionally have been at fault. All we really need to do is give ourselves some quiet, private time to think about our relationships with other people. Of course, everyone’s list will be very unique, but there are some general guidelines that can be used.

The first name on the list should be ours. The shiniest haloes are above the ones who have hurt themselves the most. All in the name of helping our addicts, we have delayed or ignored our own health care, sometimes to the point of serious illness. We have cancelled our vacations and dropped out of school. We have berated ourselves for not being perfect. We have scorned our own instincts and distrusted our own judgment. We have made ludicrous financial decisions. We have denied ourselves everything, from flowers to new cars. Would we treat our best friend that way? No! We need to make amends to ourselves for simply not knowing how to cope with our situations. This is not to say that we should write off our mistakes, but we should acknowledge that we’re not perfect, we’re not mind readers, and we’re not gods.

Who’s next on the list? Undoubtedly, the people who qualify us for membership in Naranon. Who among us has not been judgmental, antagonistic and insulting, or indifferent, manipulative and callous? Our behavior towards our addicts had not always been considerate and understanding. Speaking from experience, the people who are the nicest on the outside, can be the most spiteful on the inside. Yet, if we are honest, we will have to admit that many of our character defects were evident and even highlighted in our relationship with the addict.

There are many people who have been harmed as a direct result of our dealing with addiction. Did we ignore the needs of our children in our obsession with an addicted spouse? Were we angry and impatient with friends and relatives who tried to give us advice we did not want to hear? Did we cut ourselves off from others in an attempt to protect the secrets resulting from the addiction? Did we lie or engage in some form of illegal conduct in an attempt to cover for the addict? Clearly, all who were affected by such behavior can be added to our list.





As we reflect further, we may conclude that we also have harmed people unrelated to the problem of addiction in our lives. Our character defects existed long before our involvement with the addict. We may list harms done to friends, relatives, colleagues…to people in all areas of our lives.

The next part of this Step is to become willing to make amends. It doesn’t say make amends (yet); it just says to become willing. Granted, this willingness may not come easily. The best incentive will be to watch the progress of other Naranon members who have already taken this Step. Without a doubt, the same humility necessary for the Fifth Step (admitting the exact nature of our wrongs) will be needed for true willingness to make amends. Amends absolutely cannot come from a heart still filled with resentment. The honesty and insight that has grown from working the earlier Steps may lead us to see that we can make little further progress without cleaning up the past by making these amends.

“What?! Me, make amends? This is absurd. What about my husband? He was the one who was high all day. He was the one who couldn’t finish college or keep a job. He was the one hitting me when he got too high (or too low). I was the one with the steady salary. I was the one who did the chores. And it was my credit rating that was wiped out by bankruptcy, thanks to his drug addiction.

“I never sympathized with his pain. I didn’t even try to understand his problems. On a more subtle level, I started judging him and other people too. No one could compare with me and my dedication, my tenacity, my heroic martyrdom.”

I was the good one. I didn’t hurt anyone and I don’t have any amends to make. Well, maybe I shouldn’t have called that drug dealer a revolting worm, but he really asked for it. I guess it was dumb to hit my husband back just because he hit me first. My friends must have been hurt when I stopped seeing them because he didn’t like them. It was certainly wrong to lie to family members to get money from them.

Step Nine

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Getting to the Ninth Step has not been easy. Many of us had a hard time seeing that we had harmed anyone. Our struggle with the physical, emotional and spiritual wreckage caused by addiction convince us that others were the cause of what had gone wrong.

Working the preceding Steps helped us recognize our part in the troubles in our lives. In the Eighth Step, we made a list of those we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. One name which may have been omitted from this list is our own. We in Naranon often demand perfection of ourselves and are inevitably disappointed when we do not meet this impossible standard.

In essence, Step Nine is a forgiveness of ourselves, expressed to those we have harmed. Sharing our inadequacies and shortcomings with others will be easier when we fully forgive ourselves.

Step Nine is an essential element in our relationship with our Higher Power. It’s not that making amends to others is a precondition imposed upon us by our Higher Power. If our Seventh Step request that our Higher Power remove our shortcomings is genuine, we will inevitably feel a deep need to clean up the messes we made.

Bringing ourselves to forgive is sometimes difficult; anger and resentment which may have been accumulating for years are powerful obstacles. Forgiveness is simply an acceptance of each person’s humanity, including all the imperfections, and a release of the angry emotions which keep us separated from each other.

The Ninth Step directs us to make amends to those we have harmed. What does it mean to make amends? The dictionary defines amends as “compensation for a loss or injury”. This definition does not refer to apologizing or saying we are sorry, something we may have assumed was required by the Ninth Step. Changed behavior is a more sincere means of making amends.

We most likely need to make amends to the addict. Initially, this may be difficult to face. We have been through months and years of frustration, and are angry and resentful as a result. Yet these are the reasons these amends need to be made. Sometimes it takes the Higher Power to show us the means, the time, and the place to do this.

We must be willing to make amends even where we fear others will be unable to forgive us. Sometimes we will be greatly surprised by the response we receive. Other times, the relationship is beyond mending. Ultimately, the response of others is not important. The real work to be done is in us. As we consciously apply the changed attitudes we have developed in the earlier Steps to the process of making amends, we will experience the rich satisfaction of forgiveness—of ourselves and others.

Step Ten

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

In the past, before working the Steps, no matter what circumstances caused our emotions, whether we understood why we had them or not, we were prone to believe that our conduct was appropriate in the way we reacted to them. We were quick to always point the finger at someone else. We hardly ever questioned our own statements, decisions or behaviors, even though we had nothing to do with the problem. Remember how surprised we were when we learned the truth? As we worked each Step, we began to progress and were able to admit and accept our characteristic imperfections. Maintaining a changed attitude is not a one-time occurrence of behavioral adjustment, but an unending daily process of self-examination. It is easy to slip back into our old behavior. The Tenth Step suggests that we monitor our reality in the thick of things—on a continual basis and work through them in a timely manner.

When we entered Naranon, it was clear we wanted to change our life for the better. The Tenth Step sustains this change, for it assists us in maintaining the ability to examine our motive, admit our wrongs, and forgive ourselves and others promptly. Swallowing our pride and humbling ourselves when we recognize that there is something we are saying and/or doing that is inappropriate is growth, and is a good start towards breaking bad habits. “At times, I have a tremendous ego and it’s difficult for me to think, needless to say admit, that I am not right in all my affairs. For me, this is a humbling experience and I sometimes feel vulnerable”.

Humbling ourselves is only one element of this Step; another is admitting it as soon as we are aware of our wrongs. Sometimes we take awhile just to acknowledge that we made a mistake. It is important to rectify the situation as quickly as possible. There were times we did admit that we were at fault, but how long did it take us? “My pride was so strong that even when I knew I was wrong, I would procrastinate, thus prolonging the bad feeling between the other party and myself”.

The last segment of the Tenth Step is examining our strengths in order to maintain a balance. This balance allows us to look at both good and bad sides.

The Tenth Step helps us to routinely look within ourselves; it helps us observe how we relate to those around us, and it serves as a reminder to help us think, grow and live one day at a time.

Step Eleven

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Feeling the presence of God or a Higher Power in our life might be different for each of us. For some of us, a Higher Power is part of a spiritual path outside of religion. For others, Higher Power is the same as God.

“To me, it’s listening to that calm voice inside that can only be heard when I let go of worry, desperation and the need to live for others. I grew up thinking only weak people needed religion—that it was a crutch. That the only faith outside of faith in me was blind faith. Now I see that I was desperate to control myself, and those around me, unable to trust. Now that I have a personal relationship with a Higher Power for the first time in my life, I know what it feels like to not face my troubles alone—and I recognize that quality of peace when I see it in others”.

How do we come to peace? Meditation is, for many, the vehicle. Some meditate “in the car”, “in the bathroom”, “in bed at night”, or “on a walk in nature” when they have the solitude of time alone.

There is amazing comfort in not needing to have all the answers. When we learn that we don’t have to have all the answers, that we don’t need to take care of everyone, everything, and every situation, we ask our Higher Power for help. “When problems arise in my life, my first reaction now is to pray. I turn whatever is troubling me over; listen for that quiet voice, then try to follow it”. When we start asking our Higher Power for a specific outcome, (Oh, while you’re at it, will you get it here by such-and-such a date…) we know we’ve gotten off course. Our Higher Power may not give us what we want, but we surely get what we need, and with the benefit of time and perspective, it becomes clear.

A favorite cartoon shows a guy standing on a street, looking up at a street sign, which reads, “ONE OF MANY WAYS”. A willingness to believe in a Higher Power, and in fact listen to this Higher Power, allows us to make choices. At any point along the way, the choices may be good or bad ones. If the decision we made wasn’t a good one…through prayer and meditation, we can still the noise, quiet the fears and listen for another option. One is sure to come along. We don’t have to be perfect. We only need to be willing to trust, stay calm, and take care of ourselves. We listen so much better when we’re spoken to with compassion…”And I’m of the sneaking suspicion that God never yells”.

Step Twelve

Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The sum total of working the Steps is a spiritual awakening. During the process of working the Steps, we become aware that meetings provide a safe place to share our common problems without being judged or scrutinized. The meetings provide a place to focus on our relationship with ourselves rather than obsessing on the addict. We become aware we are not alone. A habit is developed to look within objectively and with detachment, at the elements or our lives we can change and those we cannot. A spiritual awakening is our way of taking responsibility for our lives, rather than trying to control someone else’s. We listen to the stories of others and become more aware of our common experiences. We learn a way of relating without becoming enmeshed. We become aware of our spiritual relationship to ourselves, to our Higher Power and to others. We come to realize our place in the world.

Carrying the Step Twelve message to others means sharing what we have found. It may be hard at first to realize that simply attending a meeting, even if we don’t say a word, is sharing ourselves and our recovery with others. If we are consciously present, we are sharing. When we share openly at meetings, this is also part of Step Twelve. Our experience, strength and hope will benefit someone. Even our early shares about our pent up frustration, grief and pain of living with an addict, before we are able to focus on ourselves, helps newcomers realize they are not alone. Newcomers’ stories remind old timers how grateful we are for how far the Twelve Steps of recovery have taken us.

Service at group meetings is a way to carry the message to others. Taking the responsibility to be a secretary who facilitates the meeting, or a treasurer who collects the contributions and distributes them for rent, literature or donations to the District, Area and World Service, allows the meeting to run smoothly. Other ways to contribute to the group are to welcome newcomers, set up the room and put things away, offer a ride or car pool. Taking these responsibilities forces us to be at meetings regularly, insuring that recovery will take place. We have found that in giving service to the group, we receive much more than we gave. We begin to recover.

Being a sponsor is another way to carry the message to others. We show our gratitude for recovery and continue to grow in a close personal relationship with another. As a sponsor, we know another’s story more completely than is possible at meetings. We guide each other in the program. Sponsorship is a commitment to another person in recovery benefiting both.

Step Twelve may seem like the last Step, but in fact, with this Step, we find that the gifts of the Steps grow with our continued work. As we begin, and then learn to work the Steps, go to meetings, care and be cared for by others in our Naranon family, our ability to love others and ourselves grows. We carry our newfound recovery beyond the group to our families, neighbors, co-workers and everyone we meet not by preaching but by being one more recovering person in the world. We practice these principles in all our affairs. Trust, hope and gratitude replace our fear, hopelessness and the need to blame someone for our troubles. We gain the ability to let go of things outside of our control. We start, gradually, to live life in the present. These positive changes are signs of the spiritual awakening taking place within us. Acknowledging and sharing this awakening is the essence of Step Twelve.
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