If you’re working a 12-step program leading to sobriety, you’ve already read in these pages about getting through Steps 1 and Steps 2. For many people, those first two steps are the real killers, because it’s so difficult to admit that your addiction has you by the throat and then accept that hope is possible. Having hope means, of course, that you are putting your faith in a Higher Power.
Not everybody in alcohol addiction treatment has the same belief in a Higher Power. Even if you question the existence of God, then you’ve at least got to accept the need for Good Orderly Directives (G.O.D.) in your life.
Once you get past those first two giant steps, you’re ready for the third one:
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
Just what does that mean? This is where you really surrender yourself to the 12-step process. Even if you’ve admitted that you need help, and you’re looking for a powerful Force to help you through this, Step 3 is where you actually begin to walk down the yellow brick road. Many people before you have walked the 12 steps, and you have to make a leap of faith that as you walk them, they will work for you, too.
Step 3 is not a time when you can listen to the pros and cons of recovery and decide whether or not you agree with them. Step 3 is when you decide that you believe the process will work and move forward with it. The next step requires faith and trust—in your High Power, but also in the following:
- You must trust the counselor assigned to your case at the residential alcohol addiction treatment center. You really don’t get to pick and choose who your counselor is when you enter treatment, but if you’re at a facility with licensed, certified professionals, you can rest assured that they all work together for each and every patient. In fact, counselors meet together at least weekly to share ideas on the various patients they are working with, so even if you are assigned to one counselor, you can rest assured that you will be developing a relationship with the other ones as well. Take some comfort in the fact that each and every person who works in recovery has a real interest in helping you; you just have to give yourself over to the process.
- By the time you start working on Step 3, you will almost certainly have attended your first AA or NA group meeting. Everybody who is attending the 12-step meeting has been where you are now. You never need to feel as if your story will be so shameful that they won’t understand it. Listen to the stories of others, and eventually you will feel like telling your own story. If someone asks you to talk before you’re ready, then just say you don’t want to talk that day but maybe next time. Your participation in 12-step meetings means you will learn how to ask for a sponsor, and that is the next person, after the counselor, whom you must trust.
- You will also begin exploring your relationships with the other people in your life—your spouse, your parent, your children, or your siblings. It’s time for you to look at ways that you’ve involved them in your addiction and, conversely, whether or not they’ve played a part in enabling your negative behaviors.
It’s kind of exciting to think that you’re actually beginning the journey. Many people balk, however, at the worry that they will lose their self-identity in the process. They want to maintain their own idea of what recovery should be instead of accepting what’s tried and true. In truth, the more willing you become to follow the 12-step process, the more independent you will actually become as you move forward.