12th Step Within

by Sarah S., your NoVAtions editor

When I first heard the phrase “12th step within,” I thought it meant 12-stepping oneself rather than others who may have lost contact with program. But is this such a silly idea? Doesn’t carrying the message begin with our own programs? I may be going to meetings, doing service, and making calls, but I still may not be practicing these principles in all my affairs. I may not be living the 12-step values on a daily basis. I may not have what others want.

I recently tried to 12-step someone outside of program and, as the kids say, epic fail. I ended up hurting rather than helping, and I felt my own guilt and shame because of it. Through the help of my sponsor I realized that this was an opportunity to look at myself and my character defects. It may not be safe for me to make direct amends, but I can learn from this experience and make living amends in so many different ways. I’ve decided that one way to do this is to share my experience with those whom I haven’t seen lately. Being vulnerable and admitting our faults is an asset, and “it is weakness, not strength that binds us to each other.” It’s a service to share with someone who may have slipped or not worked a perfect program (that’s everyone, right?) that I too am imperfect and that’s OK.

First I’ll 12 step myself, then those I haven’t seen at meetings lately, and finally I may be ready to effectively 12 step people outside of the rooms.