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Step 12, the 12th step, Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. We talk about what it means for your spirit to be awakened, how the evidence exists for this happening, ways in which we carry the message, and how to practice these principles, and this step, outside of the 12 step fellowship world. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com, or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
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12/13/20 Step 12, the 12th step, Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. We talk about what it means for your spirit to be awakened, how the evidence exists for this happening, ways in which we carry the message, and how to practice these principles, and this step, outside of the 12 step fellowship world.
recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery and addiction topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the views expressed here are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature
is welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason i’m a guy in long term recovery and i’m billy i’m a guy in long term recovery and today we’re here to talk about step 12 dun dun dun we’ve graduated that’s it it’s over program ends here you’re done if you make it here you’re finished yeah this is when you can stop coming to your 12-step program if you’d like i’m kidding completely this is where it begins this is where the journey starts right that sounds terrible after you’ve finished up 12 steps oh yeah it all starts here before we get into step 12 i did want to say i had the pleasure of recording on another podcast this past week and it episode comes out december 11th which by the time you hear this it will already be out so that’s wonderful so you can go back to december 11th and listen and the podcast was called this is today and it’s all about things in history that happened on whatever day you happen to be listening to they’ll talk about some of the events that happened that day he generally has a guest on to talk about one of those events a little further it gives you today’s birthdays of celebrities and such pretty interesting concept i like it really admire the commitment to doing it every day that’s i don’t know how he does it so december 11th apparently was bill wilson’s last drink and the day he entered rehab oh nice and so we talked a little bit about 12-step recovery and what that’s like during the pandemic and how it’s a struggle for people and if bill wilson would have made it on a virtual zoom meeting we didn’t talk about that but it was neat and i got to talk to russ the host feel free to check that out i think it’s a pretty interesting idea i’ve actually listened to a couple of them since we recorded i didn’t before we recorded it it’s interesting yeah different stuff going on i think i did check out the list and they’re not very long most of them are pretty sure yeah they’re like 15 to 20 minutes he says some good dad jokes which i’m always in for do you have anything no thank you to jessica for coming on and talking and being open to our audience yeah that was a really great episode i felt like she was just a wealth of information not just for people who struggle with addiction but for families friends anybody that has a child like it just seemed useful for all humans honestly yeah and again it’s nice to have someone that knows how to navigate that washington political arena on our side that can speak that language as well as relate to the addicts and what her personal struggles with her family were yeah it was really cool to have everyone so thanks again to jessica and then we will delve right into step 12. the 12th step 12. i don’t know why 12 just seems like a significant number like i think without 12-step programs 12 would be kind of meaningless yeah 11 steps doesn’t sound it doesn’t right or what if you had 15 or 20 like that would just be weird 10 might work 10 10 could work but 12 just seems really important okay so the 12th step if you’ve never heard of the 12 step if you were not in a 12-step program if you were just some random stranger human that decided to listen today the 12th step is having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs if you’re not an addict you would say well how am i going to carry a message to addicts right like that’s kind of useless and i would agree i guess i don’t know that you can completely carry a message to addicts but even though that is the way this step is written in n a i guess it says alcoholics in the a a version and and i’m sure gambler’s anonymous says gamblers or like i’m sure everybody has their own take on it but i would say this step is universal to carrying the experience and empathy that you’ve learned in life to other humans like that’s my take on how this spreads out beyond the world of recovery programs yeah and i think for us like the way the process of recovery for me worked was i learned to practice some of these principles of honesty and open-mindedness and willingness within my limited n a community and then i was able to take that out into the world once i learned about these principles and how to practice them yeah it’s interesting so in a the steps all start with their own little wording and i think most other fellowships that have borrowed the steps do the same but in n a we have put the word we in front of every other step step one is we step two starts with we like every last step starts with we until you get to 12 which starts with having had which is an odd terminology to begin with but having had so that’s telling us that we’ve definitely had a spiritual awakening right having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps so it’s not if you work these steps you might have a spiritual awakening or you could possibly have a spiritual awakening it’s telling you you will how do you feel about that that’s like a very determinative statement like there’s no options you’re gonna have a spiritual awakening [ __ ] if you get here something’s gonna happen right well again i think in order to make it through that process of the steps there are a few spiritual principles that almost have to be in place or that you have had to have worked on at that point some trust some faith some open-mindedness some willingness so at some level your spirit’s gonna be awakened maybe only a little bit but you know it doesn’t say to what degree your spirit’s gonna be awakened i mean it creates this vision of this the silhouette of the person with the light shining out from it that we’re all going to reach this euphoric you know spiritual awakening where we’re these buddhist monks sitting on the top of a hill you know meditating all day i definitely left my body but that is not the realistic experience so now you’re saying i could have had a one percent spiritual awakening right no you could have just had a very minor spiritual awakening so what is a spiritual awakening because i when you hear the term spiritual awakening to me that sounds obviously i go to religion when i first got here i was like spiritual awakening what am i going to find jesus and i would think even still today that phrase itself spiritual awakening initially reminds me of some god experience some universal like i have become one with something bigger than me some higher power and i don’t think that’s what they’re getting at here but that’s what it sounds like that’s what spiritual awakening comes across like yeah it definitely presents that image for me i think it has more to do with an understanding of spiritual principles and how to apply them in my life which sounds way less exciting
but you know these are principles that i wasn’t really good at practicing before i found recovery before i found the 12 steps you know i wasn’t very open-minded i wasn’t very honest i wasn’t a person that even put a lot of value on those in fact i looked at a lot of spiritual principles and thought that people that lived those things in their lives were like weak and vulnerable and you know oh if you act like that people are going to take advantage of you and yeah if you’re trusting and honest and open about your feelings with a bunch of other using addicts chances are they’re going to use that to manipulate or get something from you or right beat you up or whatever and so you know i looked at a lot of these spiritual principles not as an asset mm-hmm they were like a d defect or a weakness when i came to n a i started to realize through this process that no these are actually beneficial in my life and when i can practice them i feel better i feel better about myself i in general feel more free more loving more caring more open more closer to the person that i think i was meant to be i think a lot of these steps we’ve decided that we like other versions of saying them like we’ve kind of come up with our own little version of what they mean and we feel like if the step said that it would actually be better but this one if which said having had a better understanding and application of spiritual principles sounds way worse that sounds boring yeah so the spiritual awakening thing sounds religious and yet if you flip it around and say having had an awakening of the spirit that sounds different to me that doesn’t sound religious or godly anymore that just sounds like exactly what happens when we get clean or sober because i can remember being out there i don’t honestly know that i’ve known many alcoholics that are in the bottom pits of despair i’m not saying that they don’t exist obviously they do there’s a whole program for them right huge age plenty of them right i just don’t know that i was around many of them but i know myself and all the other using addicts around me that’s one of those things we talk about when people come in like they just look dead inside right like their body is still going from moment to moment but their eyes just look so lifeless and so when we say an awakening of the spirit i feel like that’s exactly what happens when we remove those drugs and we start to have this recovery process take hold the spirit does awaken right like there’s that piece of us inside whether you believe in god or not this soul this spirit this consciousness however you’d like to term it comes back to life right we’ve kind of like dulled it down with these drugs and so i don’t know i kind of do like having had an awakening of the spirit as a result of these steps that sounds less magic sticky and more relevant to what really happens yeah and some of the language i mean what that phrase meant back when they wrote the steps in the 1930s may have had a little different feel to it than it does now right i mean the words stay the same but they can take on little different nuances of meaning or because we have all the context around them i guess maybe spiritual awakening back in the 1930s had a different feel than it does now yeah like in the 80s when bad meant good yeah right and even now like sick means awesome and savage is great yeah yeah so it’s hard to go back and see exactly if those statements would have had the same feel or the same meeting i would agree i think you have to have an awakening of the spirit in this program especially if you’ve worked the 12 steps so i don’t disagree with that that we having had yes i believe you will if you work these 12 steps your spirit will awaken and like you said maybe to some degree or another it might be a smaller degree you might just become awakened to the fact that you want to live i don’t know it might be something smaller than like i want to do good will towards the entire world at all times but i can’t argue with that i think it’s going to happen yeah i think it’s going to be a natural part of you know an honest effort on the 12 steps right okay good so we don’t argue with that so the next part we tried to carry this message to addicts what does that mean we tried to carry this message to addicts you know you hear stuff like you can carry the message but not the addict and how do we try to carry this message do we get it tattooed on our forehead while we walk around all day or is this something is it only speaking at meetings is that the only time we’re carrying the message i think in our program there’s lots of ways to do it within the fellowship obviously through what they call hni which has taken meetings out to other places and sharing there’s sponsorship they’re sharing in meetings there’s doing 12-step calls to go help people that are trying to find a meeting just being a greeter or welcoming to someone that’s new to a meeting you know there’s showing up to set up chairs and make coffee and there’s all these different ways to be of service to others and for me personally those are all ways of carrying the message still suffering addicts the way the disease of addiction was explained to me was that it’s a physical mental and spiritual disease and the spiritual aspect of the disease of addiction is my total self-centeredness everything’s all about me all the time how am i going to get what i want what do they think about me what about my feelings you know and i put myself front and center above the needs or wants of everyone else you would think you would know that’s impossible because it’s obviously all about me it can’t be about you it can’t be about you it’s all about me but the opposite of that is being of service to others i’m being of service to others and doing things for other people i’m kind of putting myself maybe not last but i’m putting myself behind the needs of others okay and so when i’m in this position of helping other people or serving other people i’m at the opposite end of that spectrum of self-centeredness so carrying the message is any way shape or form that we are putting others in front of us yeah being of service to other people well what’s the message what message are we carrying i mean in narcotics anonymous we have it pretty clearly spelled out we know what our message is it’s in the basic text it’s that an addict any addict can stop using lose the desire to use or find a new way to live um how that would carry out into the world in my normal life that can get a little trickier so maybe we carry the message by being of selfless service and the message is to be of selfless service maybe it’s both yeah that’s the message we carry and it’s how we carry it and the reason it’s the message is because that’s what we’re showing people when we do it we’re showing them how to live differently by being of selfless service yeah and then you know the awakening of the the spirit i think happens when we’re in a position of serving others maybe not all the time right but i think anyone that’s done any level of service has at some point had those moments where it’s like maybe you go to an h i meeting where you go out of your way to go share a message at a recovery center or jail and afterwards someone comes up to you and says man you know that was really great i could relate to that i really you know that impacted me or years later you know you’ll run into someone that says oh yeah you came and shared when i was in treatment and you know that message really helped me out a lot and and different things like that and there’s a feeling that you get from that that i think is pretty irreplaceable you know it’s not a feeling that you get to experience a lot at least i don’t in my life and when i have those moments you know it just makes my heart my spirit come alive and feel important validated i don’t know what the word would be for that but it’s it’s similar yeah useful and it’s similar to doing this podcast i mean we do it we come and we talk and have a good time and i enjoy it i love hanging out with you and all the stuff we talk about but it’s even more meaningful when someone says yeah i really appreciated this episode or this really helped me out or that thing that you said really touched me it’s like it has a different punch you know that has a different impact than just us hanging out and having some good conversation yeah i think you’re absolutely well i say you’re absolutely right that’s biased i just completely agree with you personally i would say that’s one of the things i struggled with my whole life was feeling useless right that useless hopeless feeling and i think that’s something that when we’re of service to others and when we try to live in a way that is beneficial to other people i think that’s what i get like i lay down at night and i’m like man i was useful today right whether that was useful as a guy who drove out of his way to share a meeting for someone and some people identified in or whether that was i was useful to my kid when he really wanted to talk about some roblox game that i didn’t give a [ __ ] about but i listened patiently and like excitedly with him i just feel useful i feel like i bettered humanity that day and it’s just yeah that’s a good feeling and you kind of touched on it are we carrying the message here is that what we’re doing on this podcast are we living our 12th step i think so yeah i i do think so i think we’re help getting a message out that like recovery is a i would say like a living thing in our communities that not only do we you know stop using drugs but we become productive members of society we become parents we become coaches different things that we do in our lives you know valuable employees we become people that are out just trying to help others for the sake of helping right yeah we can touch so many lives in what we think is minor ways that other people it makes a major impact and i think that goes both ways like i’ve probably touched a lot of lives negatively as well but i think that trying to live these steps and these principles allows me to touch lives and like you said minor ways that get carried on we actually just watched the netflix movie last night claws with a k and it was a cartoon and it was kind of cute but the main principle of this guy was that like no unselfish deed goes unmatched or something like that like basically every time you do something selflessly somebody else then does something selflessly like it’s just a chain reaction and i think that’s kind of true when somebody’s nice to you you see it in the drive-throughs when people pay for the order the guy behind them and then the next person does the same and then it goes on and on and on like when you do something kind for people they tend to go through their day trying to repay that to the world somehow and so i yeah i think we we do touch people’s lives and it means more to them than we realize yeah and i think living spiritual principles it also does something at least in my brain we get those like whatever dopamine hits from you know maybe likes on facebook or some game that we’re playing but they tend to be really superficial and and they don’t last very long and you get it for that moment and then it fades away pretty quickly whereas i personally think i can get some of those same type of dopamine responses from helping others or being of service to my kids or doing some generous deed for somebody in the community and those tend to be for me longer lasting i think that’s where people talk about our lives being of meaning and of value like you said of purpose right and i get way more meaning and purpose out of living these spiritual principles than i do from serving my ego or serving some selfish desire yeah if you think about it and it does seem like our world sort of has moved towards not quite hedonistic rule right it’s not just all what feels good for me but we do seem to have moved away from like a community type living situation where we care about our neighbors and we look out for those around us and if you really think about one of the old adages that is said about parenthood it’s like you say it’s one of the most thankless and yet most rewarding jobs you could ever have in your life and so when i look at that i’m like well okay it’s thankless but super rewarding that’s almost what we go for when we try to live in a communal living type environment where we care about people around us and that’s what we do for kids we say we do it only because they’re blood related or they’re our children but truthfully if we took that kind of mentality into our communities i think we’d all be happier people like if we’re just living in a way that we’re more concerned with the well-being of those around us and we know we’re not going to get thanked for it and that’s okay it’s not about that it’s about the way we feel about ourselves yeah and i think we also have in our culture now this immediate gratification thing everything is right now everything is in the moment you know it’s whatever’s going to make me feel good in this moment right now amazon next day shipping [ __ ] now they can even get things to you the same day sometimes you know i don’t know about you but i go to buy something online i’m like three days shipping like what the [ __ ] like you can’t have this to me tomorrow i want this now and that desire i think is rampant in society now everybody kind of or i can’t say everybody in general i want what i want and i want it now you know part of my disease and realizing that no sometimes things take work and consistent effort for a greater payoff at the end i just don’t want to pay for shipping that’s mine like that’s free yeah you don’t have a free shipping price oh wait i’ll order it ahead of time i don’t care i’ll fight somewhere else and pay two dollars or more that has free shipping that’s right damn it and then it says to practice these principles in all our affairs so obviously even though this says we tried to carry the message to addicts because of this awakening of our spirit it doesn’t just mean we carry it only in n a it says we carry it in all of our affairs everywhere i looked at the 12 steps to al-anon and it just says share this message with others so i kind of like that a little better do you yeah it takes out the addicts oh we tried to share this message with others does it also say to practice these principles and all right i think that’s crucial i think that’s good that means we take it everywhere right we don’t just leave it at the program we don’t just show up for an hour and share the meeting and then buy three hookers and on the way home or whatever from our jobs right steal from our jobs i knew there was other examples i just i couldn’t stop thinking about the hookers i guess i don’t know to think of the other ones got distracted i did so i think that’s crucial that we take this everywhere right any time we’re going to cheat on our wives and have affairs we got to carry no that’s not it i think this is universal i think we take these principles and we try to apply them everywhere this principle of community this principle of service this principle of yes my life is about my joy and happiness but generally and i think this is universal i don’t know i’ve definitely found it to be true for me which was a shock because i thought life was about pleasing me i’m the most happiest and pleased when i’m doing things for others even though i don’t [ __ ] feel like it most of the time that’s when i lay down at night i’m like man i like myself yeah and i think there’s a difference between gratification and fulfillment now gratification is like oh this feels really good but fulfillment is like a deeper feeling a more uh a warmer feeling and i think now i’ve learned that it’s fulfillment that i really want it’s not gratification oh the gratification is good too that was the hit all right well we can stop this podcast here don’t listen any further that’s the best thing you’re going to hear today i loved it i’m going to go home and think about it for a week piece it into the end here yeah i got to cut that out and put at the end that’s great
this episode has been brought to you by voices of hope inc a non-profit grassroots recovery community organization located in maryland voices of hope is made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity and respect of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopecilmd.org and consider donating to our calls so let’s get into some of the quotes we took out of the basic text which is our piece of literature that we’re most familiar with the first one is the steps lead to an awakening of a spiritual nature this awakening is evidenced by changes in our lives these changes make us better able to live by spiritual principles and to carry the message of recovery and hope to the addict who still suffers the message however is meaningless unless we live it as we live it our lives and actions give it more meaning than our words and literature ever could so yeah that’s one of my favorite quotes in all of our literature i don’t particularly think that i am a great like public speaker i don’t know that i do a great job sharing at meetings but i feel like i do a good job at kind of living this program and practicing it in my life so it’s a justification for me not being a good speaker that’s great i have another side podcast where i [ __ ] and do whatever i want called gonna kick tomorrow and i would say go listen there is billy’s anniversary share on there and i would disagree with him i think it’s wonderful personally thank you i love that it says it’s meaningless unless we live it i think there’s a lot of times that and i’m not trying to down it i’ve done this right i’m mostly talking about myself i know other people but i’m mostly talking about me where i’ve been able to share a good message about spirituality and recovery and it’s not that i didn’t mean it and it’s not that i wasn’t trying to live it in my life it’s just you know we get this recovery in stages and i wasn’t to the point where i could more thoroughly practice it so i could share this stuff and yet if you saw me living afterwards it almost makes all the words i said meaningless if i was going home and yelling at my wife and kicking my cat or dog or spanking my children or whatever it was i was doing that i was acting not spiritual it really if you knew that you’d be like well all that [ __ ] he said at the meeting didn’t mean nothing right that’s just some good sounding chatter yeah and i think that we see a lot not to get into politics but we see that a lot in politicians like hey let me make you all these promises and tell you all these great things that i’m gonna do and then i go and don’t do any of that [ __ ] you know we see that enough in our lives and i think that happens in religion too i don’t think religion is bad religion is a great thing there’s plenty of very excellent values and principles and beliefs that are there but we all can pick out those people that are you know the guy that talks about god’s love and jesus and serving others and all that stuff and then he’s flying around on his private jet and living in his mansions and you know telling you to give all your money to god you know when he’s not doing any of those things and that creates doubt you just see the the fraud in that the fakeness in that i made a joke earlier about sharon but the truth is i have to remind myself that this program is about how i’m living it’s about how i’m carrying myself in my life because back to the physical mental spiritual part of the disease i am my own worst enemy i will convince myself you know of all kinds of terrible [ __ ] if i’m not consistently trying to practice these principles in all areas of my life i can be a dick at work to other people because i’m arrogant and self-serving and why isn’t everybody here doing what i want them to do why are they not acting the way that i want to act right the problem is me and my thinking and my approach to other people and if i keep going through life that way eventually what happens is i push people away i isolate to a point where i’m like [ __ ] it might as well get high now i feel like [ __ ] i don’t like myself no one else likes me either so [ __ ] it might as well get high yeah so i think this is something that and i don’t maybe this is just for me that i see that it used to be done better and something that i don’t do well or maybe this is a universal program thing i’m not sure but when i came into the program it seemed like people were closer more connected knew each other’s families more your sponsees might you know know your kids they might be over your house at times and stuff like that i don’t know maybe there’s just less to do so you want a response house to hang out i have no idea i don’t feel like i’ve done that well in my life and when i say i don’t haven’t done it well it’s not like i think i’m failing at it i’ve never really attempted to do it much i don’t bring a lot of n a around my family like it’s just not what i do my daughters went when they were super tiny and i could just you know hold them and give them a bottle and they were quiet and there wasn’t much to it but when they got old enough to like you know i’m not going to take around all the cuss words and drug mentality and all that stuff and i’ve just never put myself in that position and people don’t really see me interacting with my family and so part of that what i’m getting at is people hear me talk about it and like even today i got a good buddy jason who i mean he has a good idea from what i tell him about how i interact with my children and my family but he doesn’t really see it in action much and i feel like that does take something away from it like i’d love to be able to show people the good and the bad of how i am with my family or how i live in my daily life and i don’t feel like that happens as often in my life i don’t know if that’s a universal program thing where people just don’t spend as much time around each other and their families or if that’s just me and i’ve never done it and it still happens other places but i don’t get the opportunity to show the example of how i’m living very often to n a people i feel like people in the world see how i’m living yeah well and that gets off on a little bit of a tangent about what i think is a big problem in our whole culture right now it gets back to what you had said about communities and people interacting with their communities and being more engaged with their neighbors and people around them right i think that’s hugely lacking in our world right now i think technology has i’m gonna say it’s at fault but not on purpose like it’s just it’s a result of technology and the things that we have but it’s also the result of at least for most people i know that are working class people it’s like as wages and things have gone down but expenses and mortgage and grocery bills have gone up both families have to work some of them have to work more there’s all these factors going on in our society right now that i think have led to the degradation of communities which result in higher levels of addiction and dissatisfaction with life because what we know is that you know satisfaction in our lives comes from our interactions with others the quality of the relationships in our lives and if i have some friends that i only see or hang out with once every six months it’s hard to have a good quality relationship you know yeah don’t forget that the 40-hour work week was designed with the idea in mind that someone was home at all times to cook raise the children do the laundry clean the house and anything else that needed to be taken care of and now we live in a world where both people work those 40-hour work weeks and nobody’s home to do any of that so well not just that businesses you know even banks don’t have bankers hours anymore businesses are well until coveted businesses were open at some of them 24 hours but you know we’re open from six in the morning till nine ten o’clock at night most times and some places amazon and those places run shifts 24 hours a day so you might get parents that are on alternating shifts and you know it’s just it’s it’s tough and maintaining close intimate relationships is difficult and so for me i’ve tried to put more effort into that i’d say more recently like we do take our kids out to some of the n a events we do kind of have some things you know that we’ve done at the house over the years where we’ve had get-togethers or picnics or whatever so moving on to the next quote all spiritual awakenings have some things in common common elements include an end to loneliness and a sense of direction in our lives many of us believe that a spiritual awakening is meaningless unless accompanied by an increase in peace of mind and a concern for others an end to loneliness and a sense of direction so i buy into that that’s like purpose need to find purpose and end the loneliness that’s interesting so when my spirit awakens it what connects to other people yeah so it reminded me of in the first step in the basic text you know there’s a line in there at least in the in a basic text where it says the results of the disease of addiction or isolation degradation dereliction loss of control distrust of others basically when i get myself alone and only trust the thoughts that are in my head and the advice that i give myself and i am only relying on my world view i’m in a dangerous place i’m in probably one of the worst possible places i can be for myself i’m not the best at giving myself good advice when i put myself in a more humble place when i open myself to others when i open myself to the world i allow other viewpoints in and i can sorta begin to grow and change and be somebody different i like that it says an increase in peace of mind and a concern for others and so our minds are less anxious and we care about people like it i don’t know these just seem like really large concepts that i guess maybe that’s why there is 12 steps right you have 11 steps to kind of build up to this you’re not just coming in and like hey you need to care about people and have an easy mind and not be lonely and and know where you’re going in life like if they just said that day one i’m like holy [ __ ] that’s overwhelming right but you take it little by little right like hey let’s just be honest drugs are [ __ ] you up yeah or if they said to people like hey you want to stop being an addict go feed some people at the homeless shelter like you’d be like what the [ __ ] how is that going to help me stop using it yeah that’s stupid yeah i need to get off of drugs why am i going to go help people like i i need help yeah yeah i think it is it’s like these little stages that we need to move through one at a time right we can’t just come in and be spiritually awoke and doing all this stuff the next one by this time the time of working the 12 step or finishing the 12 step by this time most of us realize that the only way that we can keep what was given to us is by sharing this new gift of life with the still suffering addict this is our best insurance against relapse to the torturous existence of using we call it carrying the message and we do it in a number of ways we hear this all the time right you gotta give it away to keep it you can only keep what you have by giving it away seems like a really weird concept right would you apply this to anything else like you’re not gonna walk around and hand out your paycheck thinking that’s the only way you’re gonna hold on to money or i don’t know there’s a religious practice of tithing where you’re supposed to give away ten percent of your money yeah but i don’t think that’s in the hopes that it comes back uh it’s it the hopes that your needs will be provided for and that you will have everything that you want i don’t know wants the right word because i want a lot of [ __ ] but
sounds like buying god’s favor to me it’s like a bribe i that’s the way it was presented to me i think that’s what i think the idea was at least the way i took it it was like a 10 investment on a potential lottery win it’s like sliding a benjamin across the table to god like you got the good table for me buddy right can i go to the good heaven i think that’s the way that i heard that explained it that’s a little strange i don’t know that i’ve ever thought much about that other than like say to say that i know that i am a self-centered person by nature and that when i’m in a place of serving others it helps me more than i ever can convince myself right i mean i think this step works in practice right i think the idea of giving it a way to keep it works for this particular event because every time i’ve sponsored someone and i see that they’re not hitting enough meetings or they’re not hitting their step very often any piece of their program that they’re not doing as soon as the words come out of my mouth hey man you should probably pick that step up it’s been a few weeks instantly reminds me i need to pick my step up it’s been a few weeks right like it’s constantly even in telling other people about this i’m re-solidifying my own belief that it’s what i need to do so it’s been like a refreshing reminder time and time again as i do it i’m just not sure that was the actual purpose of it to begin with that’s how it seems to work frequently but i’m like is that really what they meant or is it the selfless service aspect of it is probably what they were going for right like in the service of giving it away is how i keep my sanity and my self-love and my self-respect but i just feel like it works as a great reminder constantly yeah and you know there’s something to be said for you know when i was using i i didn’t really care much about my life i didn’t really care if i lived or died like i just thought uh one of these days i’m gonna die i’m probably not gonna make it to the age of 21 or 25 or whatever i’ll just like that’s just coming and i don’t really give a [ __ ] i’m just gonna use up until that happens because i had no self-worth i had no self-esteem you know i didn’t feel like my life was of any value and when i can help others and be of service to others and have let’s say sponsees i got a my first sponsor we’ve had this conversation because i’ve kept in touch with him over the years but he said he only kind of stuck around meetings as long as he did because he still had me as a sponsee and i never fired him so he was practicing this 12th step and that helped him for a while to stay connected and eventually i fired him as a sponsor and he went and did what he did and left the program but you know it’s like when we’re in this state of humbly serving others it opens us up to benefits that we may not be aware of i’ve always thought up until very very recently i thought i was sure of this that anybody who stops coming to meetings after they’ve established some time and some recovery whether they succeed in their life afterwards of recovery or not i’ve always thought they’re not practicing the 12-step the whole point of the 12-step is that you have to keep coming like to help people i’m a little different on that now like maybe there’s ways we can practice this step outside of a 12-step program i and look the people who argue against this would say well this is how they lock you into coming to their meetings giving them your dollar every meeting for life because you have to keep coming back right that’s how they set it up but i guess you can still live your life of service whether you come to meetings or not if that’s just the principle and i think this is where the open-mindedness of the program comes in as far as our understandings or interpretations of of some of this language so if we look at like from a religious context you know there’s a verse in the bible that’s you know the wages of sin or death you know from romans something and you know does that mean we’re supposed to go out and kill every sinner you know is that what that means well to some people that is kind of how they interpret that [ __ ] but the way it was explained to to me from a person in a church was like no what that means is if i am caught up in sin there’s going to be suffering there’s going to be the death of something that comes along with it so if i’m in a relationship and i’m not being honest if i’m being deceitful or if i’m cheating or whatever like it’s going to be the death of that relationship and it’s just a different interpretation it’s not maybe taking the words quite as literally as some other people might take the words and i think this step comes down to the same thing it’s like i probably can’t carry a clear narcotics anonymous message to suffering addicts if i’m not actively engaged in the program but i don’t think that means i can’t carry a message that recovery is possible that you can stop using drugs that your life can get better that you can become a good person like i can still carry that message to anyone to people that aren’t addicts people that i work with now like they don’t know specifically like that i’m in narcotics anonymous and that i work these 12 steps or go to meetings they don’t know none of that stuff but they all know like i’ve shared kind of jokingly and sometimes more seriously like yeah i was a drug addict and i spent time in jail and that i used to be this pretty terrible person that did all these terrible things and it’s kind of a joke i’ll tell them funny stories about crazy [ __ ] i used to do but they see me now as a person that’s like a loving caring father and i’m a productive person in the community and i don’t drink or do drugs anymore and they see these things i’ve had co-workers come and talk to me about issues either they were having with family members or loved ones how they could get help what they could do things like that so why i may not be you know the advocate for narcotics anonymous in my job you know i am a person that they can look to as someone who struggled with a drug problem and is now you know doing some other things people really think the wages of sin is death means you should kill people who sin do you know any of these people i want to talk to them because it also says we’re all sinners yes so then we’d all be dead and that’s a really stupid way to take the bible most of us learn that we can only carry our message to someone who is asking for help an addict may be suffering but unwilling to ask for help we can make ourselves available to these people so when they ask someone will be there do you find this contrary to what jessica was saying last week that was the first thing that came to mind this is saying you can’t help someone who’s not asking for it but she also did say that we kind of nudge them towards it we like mention it we we bring it up we don’t force it on them but we make ourselves available which is kind of what this says so that when they ask someone will be there i think her point was that we kind of make it known that we are the people that are available right we try to be the example of hope the example of that door that loving caring compassionate voice that’s not going to judge or criticize them for the things that they’ve done right yeah but that’s kind of why i wanted to bring that up with her because i felt the same way i felt like some of the the literature that they had put out was a little contrary to what i thought i had been told in n a and that was the same thing like you can’t help people that don’t want to help themselves and i think i made the error in taking that to the next level which means so if someone’s not asking for help [ __ ] them i don’t do anything for them like and that’s a jump that i made that i didn’t really see in the literature so much i could see it being read that way though especially if you know you only remember certain lines like if you skip the next two sentences that sentence does sound like that so i was like can’t help people who ain’t asking for it [ __ ] them right so i get that i can see where you could go that way with that you know again as i stay engaged in recovery and and continue to be open-minded and grow hopefully i go on and read those next two lines and learn that the spiritual principle of honesty is great but not when we get into like brutal honesty it doesn’t mean that i throw out compassion or empathy or any of those things and you say well honesty i’m just telling you what i think so these concepts we we should hopefully be in a place where we’re continuing to explore new ways to work them together yes i can be a person that’s ready willing and able to help other people despite whether i think they’re ready or not yeah i think this is like don’t give unsolicited advice it’s not that we can’t try to reach out to people who aren’t quite ready we can still reach out and friendly and and you know say hey well when you’re ready if you’d like to do something different if you’re looking to do something different i’m always here to help or whatever it’s more just don’t go try to tell people how to live their lives before they’re really asking you for the help and living their life yeah or if they see me as a person that’s really not living a great life like you said if if i’m the guy that’s out cheating on my wife and stealing from my job and being an [ __ ] to everyone in traffic if i look like a miserable angry bitter person like is that something that other people are going to be like yeah i want to stop doing drugs so i can be like that guy like i want to be an example of what a positive life looks like you know i got off drugs because my life sucked not so that i could just have a sucky life not on drugs right i think drugs are better than a sucky life right right i mean that makes drugs seem appealing like my life sucks i hate myself i hate everyone around me like [ __ ] it i might as well get high right another one the next follow-up we cannot deny other addicts their pain but we can carry the message of hope that was given to us by fellow addicts in recovery i don’t know that seems weird too like uh it seems like we could easily use that to justify not doing anything for people can’t deny their pain [ __ ] it they gotta be stuck out there using i feel like this is the [ __ ] episode yeah a lot of fun well and for me it comes back to the you had mentioned it i think a week or two ago the bernay brown empathy sympathy little right cartoon it’s that kind of thing i can be empathetic to people and just be listening ear or a caring voice without criticizing or judging them right then the final quote that we will say on a step in the year 2020 the steps do not end here the steps are a new beginning now is that where people got the rationale for the idea that you don’t just work them once you keep going because it says the steps do not end here what does that mean to you does that mean we work them again my take on it is this whether you believe we’re meant to work them again or not i have gotten greatly new insight every time i’ve worked them so i will continue to work them the rest of my life that’s my take on it but that’s not exactly what this means were the steps meant to be worked multiple times or is this just saying this isn’t the end this is where you really start living these principles and going out and you know making them make your life worthwhile i think it depends on the individual and you know what i had heard over the years is the program will give you whatever you want from it so if i only want and this is going to sound judgy as [ __ ] but oh yeah yeah if i only want like a a surface understanding of principles or a base understanding of how to apply some of this in my life then i can work it once and be done and be like there i know how to practice empathy and love and hope and all these things now i’m good and i don’t need to really continue to work on those things or i can decide like well maybe if i went through again i can develop a deeper maybe a newer more meaningful understanding of some of those principles yeah if you really want to be a step elitist and really practice these spiritual principles not just surfacy and hold your pinky out when you drink drinks you will work these [ __ ] more than once yeah that’s where i’m at but i i also think there are other ways to grow in these areas again there’s not a one size fits all just because you work the 12 steps and never work them again doesn’t mean you’re not continuing to grow you may be experiencing growth in other areas you may decide oh i’m going to get involved with a church or i’m going to go to therapy or i can do other things so i don’t think this is the only place people can grow or learn about these principles or concepts but for me what gets dangerous is the idea that i don’t need anything now like i’m done all 12 steps and now i’m done and i’m just good i’m good i don’t need to continue to work on myself or grow or change and that i think is dangerous for anyone i mean not just addicts i think as people we always need to be in a state of growth and change and understanding of life and i did it i worked at 12 and i was like maybe i’ll take a little break and think about the traditions for a while or something and i didn’t do nothing for like two years and i got miserable yeah it was happening to me too that was my experience and and it’s again because it’s not like i started picking up and doing work in other areas i did nothing i was good i said i completed all 12 and now i’m good you’re right and i’ll just go help some other people i’ll sponsor people and do some h i work and yeah save the world all right i’m taking a break this is a vacation doing nothing so you know here we go we’re about to get personal personal lifetime 12-step kind of related this past monday my 15 year old daughter i have 15 year old twins if you’ve never listened and i haven’t talked about them you don’t know that i have 15 year old twin daughters and this past monday one of them took 80 ibuprofen and 10 extra strength tylenol and wrote a suicide note and attempted to overdose and so we you know we took the steps necessary when we found that out to try to help we got her to the hospital she then from there got committed to another facility for a little while to try to straighten out some things and all i could think all i could do i guess i showed up right i have some experience with mental health and not just in my training but in my life i understand what it’s like to really not want to be here anymore so i was able to to show up not be angry at her not be judgmental of her not do any of those things that maybe are more damaging when people are struggling with a mental health crisis and i was able to show up and give her some of my information and experience hey i felt this it sucks to feel this way it hurts me that you don’t feel like your life is worth living and i know it’s not something you’re purposely doing right like i get that it’s some things going on inside the chemicals in your head and whatever that are causing this so depression is so crazy because a common thing of depression oh people are just sad all the time and that’s not true exactly a lot of people feel nothing and life is hard to live when you feel nothing like there’s literally no feeling to anything it’s just all blah and life becomes really hard to live and depression also distorts time and i don’t think people understand that depression doesn’t say life feels like nothing now depression makes it seem like life has never felt good and it never will feel good it makes time feel infinite in this ugly state of nothingness but to be able to to show up and what i feel like was carry you know practice a 12 step i was able to to be there for her for one and then able to share my experiences of going through depression and what it’s like and where i’ve found relief and what things have worked for me and what things haven’t and have open and honest conversations about whatever i’ve gone through in my life with it and how as awful as this might seem because it it’s pretty sucky and there’s a lot of terrible ways it can go from here but looking at some other sides of that like i didn’t try to kill myself at that age because i had drugs and drugs were my answer and i attempted to get some therapy after i had used drugs but by then drugs were way more powerful than any therapeutic coping skill they were going to give me and so for me to look at this opportunity right here to try to get her mental health straightened out or leveled out before she touches drugs is an opportunity to change the course of her whole life right like she might never have to go through the drug life and the miserability of using that i did she might be able to go to college at 18 instead of 33 right like she might be able to figure out some things here so just for one the the trust that like what is supposed to happen in the world happens and believing that anything that happens can turn out for the greater good and feeling like i was able to practice a 12 step outside of na right like this wasn’t about carrying the message to the still suffering addict this was about carrying the message of hope that there’s recovery to the still suffering mental health patient right to the still suffering human hey bad days are hard right and and sometimes life is just overwhelming and hard and there’s ways to move forward from here like there really are there’s there’s hope and that’s basically i think all we can give people sometimes is hope but that was a way that i i guess saw that i felt like the 12 applied in other areas like i’m able to carry my experience in other ways outside of just drug use and recovery from that yeah and then practicing some of those principles of humility and and not feeling like you have to figure it all out or have all the answers sort of getting her into a professional place i don’t know i i imagine i know we’re very similar so i know me i would be like well we can figure this out we’ll just go home we can take care of it i know yeah i’ve already thought i know better than the people that are treating her yeah don’t you change her meds that we have her own we’ve already got this established right and and there is some powerlessness and humility that you’ve experienced as well you know with some things maybe not going the way you thought they should go or people not doing what you want them to do well and having to live in the understanding that while this could turn out as a great event that leads to some really positive outcomes and and her not having to go some of the routes i did this could also very well lead to recurring attempts and me one day not having my daughter alive and the powerlessness of knowing that there’s really not a [ __ ] thing i can do about that right like that might just have to be life at some point and i don’t know yeah and just showing up and trying to be loving and caring and empathetic towards people that we know are suffering it is really hard i know we didn’t quite go through that but we had one of our daughters say that she was suicidal and wanted to kill herself it was pretty you know for me at the moment was like devastating to to understand that she was in that much pain and hurt and we saying we sought out some therapy asked her what she wanted to do kind of got her involved with a therapist that she was going to for a while you know that’s as a as a parent you never want to hear that you know your kid feels so low about themselves at death you know but i again i recognize that from when i was using i felt that way a lot you know i remember early on in drug counseling they would always say well have you ever thought about killing yourself and it was like no you know because i was worried they might lock me up but you know secretly remembering sort of how many nights driving home just think i should just take this car off this road into this [ __ ] tree because my life sucks so bad you know and that being a pretty regular thought sometimes i mean i’ve had that thought in recovery yeah and it’s it’s scary to be in that kind of place so if you have that kind of thought please like reach out for help there’s things that can help i can tell you that even though i’ve been there i’ve also gotten some assistance and gotten to a place where that’s the last thing i want to do is not be here anymore like i want to find ways to extend my life to 348 years old personally like i’m really enjoying the life i live today yeah and understanding that you know sometimes these feelings that we have they aren’t permanent and the the other thing for me and this isn’t to put anything down about 12 step fellowships but they also don’t necessarily have all the answers to all the problems for everyone either you know that that sometimes if you have some of this stuff that’s going on with your mental health looking outside the fellowship is probably a good idea i mean i hate to say there’s a lot of people that have some really [ __ ] bad information that’ll tell you oh 12-step fellowship can handle everything you know no i don’t believe that it’s true yeah yeah there’s a lot of specialists and expertise information out there that is much more than people in you know 12-step programs have to give and it doesn’t mean one needs to replace the other they can work together or supplement each other but it’s important that we have people in our lives that have some humility to know like hey this is something that i think i can help you with or hey i think you know we really need to seek out some professional advice and just keep walking through the motions of putting one foot in front of the other even though we have no idea what the outcome might be yeah personal experience a therapy and 12-step fellowships go super well together complement each other very nicely rarely contradict each other like they’re they’re a great thing to have in combination don’t want to talk too much about the kids and the mental health completely like i just wanted to relate how it applied to the 12th step we actually have in about a month or so uh stephanie’s going to join us and we’re going to talk about children and mental health and what that’s like to experience so we have a whole episode of that coming up down the line set up already so i guess what i’ve taken away from this today with this 12 step no mind-blowing revelation so i did like the thing you said earlier where we could have cut the episode off that that was great but just that basically my soul feels alive when i tried to give back to the world that’s what i get out of this like i feel more alive and connected and in tune with humanity and at peace when i’m not just worried about [ __ ] me all the time right and i’ll give a little kind of story maybe we can wrap up on this so we have a one of my co-workers at work i don’t think i shared it i know i’ve talked to jason about it i don’t think i’ve shared about it on here we have a co-worker at work she’s been very concerned about the coronavirus and getting it and taking it home and like i work in an office with like six other people and no one in there wears masks i mean we can all socially distance we don’t get around each other that much but she was a person that was really concerned she actually had us build a enclosure you know with the plexiglass and everything just around her desk and she wears a mask and she’s expressed her frustration that everyone else isn’t wearing masks and everyone else is just like look we’re fine we don’t need to get around each other we can stay six feet apart in fairness we do talk on the phone a lot everyone’s answering phones and talking a lot so it is inconvenient to wear masks it’s not like we’re in an office where you don’t have to talk to people constantly you know that’s what we do we talk to people all day so it is annoying but anyway she expressed her fear frustration anxiety over coming to work every day with no one wearing masks so i had made this decision i said all right well i interact with this person quite a bit actually through my day i’ll just wear a mask it’s not that big a deal i do it at the gym all the time i can do it it’s not going to kill me so i show up for work today and i’m like all right i’ll just wear my mask and i put it on and i go to walk in and then the feeling hits me like all the rest of these [ __ ] people are going to make fun of me they’re going to laugh at me i’m going to be the weirdo that’s wearing a mask you know now and no one else is and they’re going to talk about me behind my back like all those feelings came right up and that day i took that mask off and walked inside and wore no mask the rest of the day and it was i don’t wanna say shocking to me but i you know i sort of thought about that because here i am a person that has this value of like i want to be like kind to other people and empathetic and loving and caring about other people at the expense of myself i like to think like that’s me being of service to others putting other people’s needs ahead of my own and in that moment i was painfully aware that my [ __ ] ego as a 46 year old man was still so fragile that some of my co-workers might laugh at me allowed me to immediately push my morals and values right out the window wow and that was humbling it was a humbling experience to kind of have on something so [ __ ] unimportant and so minor like the inconvenience to me in my life was minor and the fact that what any of these people think about me is relevant like that whatever they think about me is in no way relevant in the rest of my life for anything that i do so the next day i went in and i have since worn a mask in the office around that and some of them have made fun of me and some of them right to my face just because that’s the environment it’s sort of one of those places construction yeah it’s i work for an oil company so it’s a lot of people that joke on each other insult each other it’s it’s whatever yeah so it was like um do i want to be a person that lives by spiritual principles and practices these principles in all my affairs or do i want my ego and my self-image to allow me to throw my morals and values right out the window because the whole time i was using that’s what i would do i knew some of the [ __ ] i was doing was terrible i knew i shouldn’t be lying to people and stealing from people and cheating and all those things but it didn’t serve you know my ego or my using or whatever so i threw my morals and values out the window so that i could feel good what i found out was yes they’re not making fun of me but when i go home and lay down at night i still feel like a piece of [ __ ] not wearing a mask you know what i mean like i still feel like i’m not doing the right thing because i’m taking this person who’s got this vulnerable position and ignoring it from my own ego you know so now as a result of working steps and again this these principles aren’t things that we just we practice them once we learn about them and then hey i’m [ __ ] perfect in being a spiritual person in all areas of my life it’s like no i constantly need to be aware of areas that i need improvement or like here was an area where i got to as a result i think of meditation and being aware with how i feel on a daily basis like i was like making a conscious choice like i can serve my ego or i can live by principles and this is a choice i get to make today which one do i pick knock on wood i’ve chose since then to practice principles i’ve made it by what i think is the right decision and i feel okay about that but it’s tough you know it doesn’t just happen magically one time and then we’re fixed it’s like constant areas of this stuff coming up and living by these principles yeah that’s the message of jesus i mean you know it’s better to live in a way that’s in accordance with our morals and values and even if that requires getting persecuted at the end of the day like it’s just better it’s better to go out that route than it is to go against that so you had your jesus moment billy good job i feel more fulfilled living that way than i do you know not wearing a mask and not having people make fun of me right you pass the test you just you get a 85 for not doing it the first time but you get 100 for learning from your mistake yeah that’s awesome so that wraps up the 12-step go out be of service to others be of service to us and spread the message of this podcast and tell people about it and tell them it rocks because it [ __ ] rocks and if you have 12-step experience of course if you have some insight that you’d like to share we would absolutely love to hear that so reach out to us and give us that if you have ideas for future shows or you think you have something of value a topic that you’d like to explore reach out to us and get in touch and we can talk about that and that’s about it man stay safe be of service this week to others without thinking about you and see how it makes you feel talk to you next week if you enjoyed this podcast please feel free to share it with people you think might benefit from the conversation look us up on facebook twitter and instagram to join the conversation also and share your ideas with us we’d love to hear you
- 56: Adverse Childhood Experiences – Knowing When to Hold Your ACEs and When to Fold ’em (Sort Of)
- 58: Smart Phone and Internet Addiction (Sort Of)
- 49: What The Program’s Really Saying In Its New Informational Pamphlet About Mental Health (Sort Of)
- 51: Step Ten – Continued to Take Personal Inventory and When We Were Wrong Promptly Admitted It (Sort Of)
- 62: Is Your Ego In Check? (Sort Of)
- 47: Step Nine – Made Direct Amends to Such People Wherever Possible, Except When to Do So Would Injure Them or Others (Sort Of)