December 17, 2011

My Program Walk, Out of Order

Is the point  in numbering our twelve steps,  simply take it one at a time?

In our rooms, I often hear folks say, the Steps are in order for a reason. Yet I've found my gut balking. Once I finally allowed myself to investigate, it came to me that  if the Steps are suggested, even their order can be "tweaked." Right?

A common saying, "two steps forward, one step back,"  might support that.  For when we leap, we must self-correct. To end up where we needed to be after all--one step forward.

But to be honest, I did the Steps much more "out of order", to make them work for me.

How badly out of order? I don't think I forced any step or did an apology before I was ready.  No, I just did Step Eleven long before I did any other action Step in the program! 

Using the Twelve Step Plus approach (including therapy) I started rebuilding my faith in my Higher Power by doing a gratitude practice each day for three months. At my therapist's advice.  I later came to realize gratitude is a potent form of prayer or Step Eleven. In hindsight I see that practicing gratitude helped me to look for, and find, the good in my life, and reconnect with my Higher Power.

Without Step Eleven, very early in my recovery, I could not have had the faith in Love that I needed in order to turn my will and life over to Its care. Today that makes sense to me, but only after a lot of introspection. 

I've seen it happen that way for others too.  Some newcomers use  the Steps ONLY as a guide, and decide from careful reflection, where they most need to begin their work. 
Some conclude that where they start is not so important, if after all, they'll come back to these steps again and again in the work of rebuilding their lives.

That has made me wonder if it might help to see our Steps as more of a circle dance. In this way, we each might be at the Center of a circle, using a given step when we need it, to move through our own "cycle" of recovery. 


  1. I did the first 3 in order, then I think I did the steps in order AND out of order. I was working through the steps with my sponsor and attending step meetings but they were out of sync.

  2. I like the metaphor, and the idea that any therapeutic initiative is a good initiative. Therapists do this all of the time, offer suggestions, only to find the patient isn't ready, and they have to come up with something new.

    The only problem I have is when I know that the patient's "step" is clearly out of order and I know it's going to fail. I guess that's what they mean by taking it in order. The order will ensure psychological safety, (to the degree that it can).

    But obviously, it doesn't, because people slip in 12 steps, too, and don't always come back.

    I'd like to think of your circle dance as you (anyone) in the center of people, because that way it's less likely that slipping on the dance floor is going to ruin a perfectly good sobriety.

    Terrific post.


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~