Step 12: HAVING MADE AN EFFORT TO PRACTICE THESE PRINCIPLES IN ALL OUR AFFAIRS, WE TRIED TO CARRY THIS MESSAGE TO OTHER COMPULSIVE GAMBLERS.
Being ready does not mean we have mastered the steps, on the contrary it means we are working them daily. I became ready when I finally grasped the value of the meetings. They are to be there for others as much as they are for myself. As time has gone on I have written about my experiences in a way intended to help both the gambler and those affected by them.
Being ‘ready’ is to be able to share in the group what is happening in your journey, knowing that it can help someone new and even someone who has been around for a while.
Twelve step work is a lifelong process of evaluating your life and where you are at. It is not a one time thing. Each step has new meaning at different stages in my recovery. Step 12 is key to becoming involved in the recovery of others through being available by phone. It is also being willing to go through the steps with a person who is just starting out and all the things involved in keeping meetings going.
As I work the steps from 1 to 11 I find out more about myself and realize new places where I missed something. Each one is a daily process of growth which expands my ability to work step 12.
As I have said throughout the writing of the 12 steps it is not a job finished when I get to the last step. It is like a staircase where at the end of one flight there can be another. Another example is how at the end of the day we start over with the beginning of a new day. If I get to a point where I think I’m done I am likely to relapse or start a new addiction.
When I say “I am a grateful compulsive gambler.” I am not saying that I am thankful that I gambled but rather that I have found recovery and can see something good coming out of my pain. My life is being rebuilt and in some cases it is far better now than it was before I gambled. Thus I am grateful that I gambled because of what has become of me in recovery. I have met new people who are teaching me new ways of living and are friends that don’t judge what was but rather what is now.
I have found that guiding someone who is starting the process is more about listening and working with them where they are than giving advice about how to get to where I believe I am. What I have done may not work for someone else but if I share it as my experience it may provide the person insight into a way for them. It is more important to be there with them than to be there telling them what to do.
I’ve developed a process that works for me and has shown success for others but if I make it an issue of “my way or the highway” it becomes control and not help. On occasion I have found myself ‘over managing’ and this is when I need to check myself at the door so to speak. It is hard not to be ‘over involved’ on another persons recovery because of a desire to help them but I have to be aware that the process is part of the journey and sometimes we need to let people have their own journey.
I find myself realizing that working the steps is different for everyone. Some work them completely in order and go through all 12 regularly. Others work them in an order that is not linear and while the first steps are needed to work later steps after a point the order can be different for different people. Some steps, while written in an order, are not always the way people are ready for them.
When I see someone new come in and go through anger and confusion, I am reminded of where I was and what occasionally I still experience in new ways. It calms me to be reminded of what my addiction did and what it still does at times to me.
My personal abstention symbolizes an awareness on my part that to return is to destroy what I have found in recovery. It represents a new beginning that includes a return to ‘normal’ life.
What is your experience with this step? How do you work the steps?