As I mentioned in my first couple of blog postings, I daily utilize the wonderful tools I found in so many schools of recovery thought. One of the most essential forces in my own recovery has been the practice and 'working' of the 12 Steps as beautifully laid out in AA. I know there are people that choose other pathways to their recovery other than AA and the Big Book and some individuals may have various concerns when it comes to the use of God in the terminology. This is absolutely fine and I openly will say that we are so fortunate to have a wealth of distinct approaches to finding ways to free ourselves from addiction and alcoholism. We should all be grateful for this fact - we have come a long way in our society towards finding excellent, feasible passageways to unconditional recovery.

I do sincerely feel that all who read this particular posting will be able to find something that rings close to home.  In my own experience of sobriety I have often commented to others in meetings that I use an 'open' system when it comes to rehabilitation techniques.  In other words, I have allowed myself to be completely free to learning and applying a wide range of principles from cognitive thought techniques, mindfulness, prayer, nutrition, deep breathing, yoga and last, but not least -  the 12 Steps.

Let's discuss right now two of those important steps. Step 4 - "Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves." And, then Step 5 - "Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."  These two steps are so very important to sobriety and staying clean because, through continued practice and complete honesty with yourself, God and other trusted human beings, one can begin to integrate their true selves and create an essential core relationship between body, mind and our soul. Through courage and perseverance one can examine themselves and open all the doorways to the good, the bad and ugly.  Most likely this fearless inventory of ourselves will have to boldly recognize our behavior when drunk and using.  And, such an assessment of ourselves will have to genuinely acknowledge the actions we committed upon others and the excessive inner harm we cast onto ourselves. The endless lies, deceit, hiding and abuse that surrounded our inner and outer lives when using is so hard to look at. And, to accept responsibility for all of it, to see that it was really you that did all these terrible things - well, not an easy task for anyone.

As I have worked with the 12 Steps I often feel that they are principles that must be daily applied - in a sense they truly ground me in life.  I try to daily read through the steps and recall and practice what is embodied within each one. I find it essential to my mental and spiritual health to remember this moral inventory I took of my inner being.  What an excellent and useful tool to keep our egos at bay, in check, or healthily balanced, and to continually feel that very real humility that enters into our consciousness and subsequently grounds us.

How fundamental to our recovery is it to remember the kind of person we were when addicted to alcohol and/or drug use. Nothing humbles me more than recalling the kind of person I became during the throes of alcoholism and the harm and pain I cast onto others in my life - not to understate the terrible self-destruction I incurred while drinking. This humility is often tinged with sadness and guilt and it is healthy to feel these emotions.  It is human to feel the repercussions of our actions. This helps to find our true conscience again and let our conscience grow within. My body, mind and soul were starved and deprived of any kind of true nourishment - I was dying, physically, mentally and spiritually. If such a desert of existence does not humble a person, then I do not know what does.

Then we move on to  Step 5 -- the most important aspect of fearlessly taking this moral inventory of ourselves - admitting the wrongs we have committed and the true nature of these wrongs. And, why is it so vital to not only admit these aspects of ourselves to just our own self? Because we now must fully integrate this inner awareness with our entire life. This is our next real step of courage. And, to fully complete Step 5 and admit and discuss this moral inventory with God, (or if you prefer - your own inner voice or your heart) and someone else, is mandatory to living a life of unconditional recovery. 

Psychologically speaking, it is so very healthy for anyone to let internal matters breath, especially to a skilled and trusted therapist, sponsor, counselor or pastor. The former established patterns of deceit and lying will no longer be necessary. This dishonesty and trails of deception only serve to protect our false self and our addiction. The freedom of conscience that can be experienced when one has the fearlessness to take this full moral inventory and then reveal that to their higher being, and to another trusted soul, while accepting and living with this inwardly, will finally lead a person to a feeling of genuine freedom. Your body, mind and soul can finally live in a state of peace and honesty. The need to run for that drink or fix will now meet another kind of challenge - your true self.  And, I will firmly attest to how much better I feel living honestly with a daily awareness of God within my own heart. To live honestly, free one day at a time from addiction, is like drinking the spiritual fresh waters of life.



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