The Tools

November 5, 2009

Using The Tools

Using The Tools

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

What do you do when you’re working hard using the tools of recovery—and stuff isn’t getting better? What if it’s getting worse? Do you ever “Let Go and Let God”—only to get “Whacked Upside Thine Head“?

Like many a curious soul exploring “The Secret,” and the whole Power of Positivity craze, I’ve been simply bursting forth with notions of Abundance, Prosperity, and damn good Ju-Ju in general. Obviously, I’m not doing as instructed: the universe has been responding with locusts. I love Pima Chodron, but what do I do if I “Start Where I Am,”—and it Sucks Dead Bears? I’ve tried “Being In the Now,” but what does Eckhardt Tolle want me to do when “The Now” bites the Big One? What if I’m “turning it over” and finding dog poop underneath? What is up with that?!?

Family and friends in medical crises, everyone around me in financial free-fall, clients acting like mental patients, serenity-busting nonsense at spiritual gatherings…  there are some mighty unhappy-looking shoppers passing me in the aisles these days. My stomach sounds like I ate a live mole rat for lunch. Did the universe figure out I was faking it? Did the power that created the cosmos decide that a bucketload of bat guano on my head would be good medicine?

I’ve been using The Tools of recovery, diligently working the Twelve Steps.* Okay, maybe in my own unique way, but I think it’s a good approach! For instance, I like to start with the Twelfth Step, and work my way back to the First. What’s that you say? “Hey—you sound so serene, I’m interested!” I’ll just bet!

So, here’s how I’ve been doing it:

12. I start with Step Twelve—bringing the message to others. All others. I reach out to them, whether they have the good sense to ask or not. I give advice I haven’t got time to heed, but it’s always good. Feel free to ask.

11. After that, I turn to Step Eleven—meditation and prayer. I use these to improve my conscious contact with myself. I can almost read my own thoughts!

10. Once that’s done, it’s on to Step Ten, continuing to take inventory. I go over events and replay them until I find I am not at fault. I diligently take personal inventory of others until I can clearly see where they went wrong.

9. Then it’s time for Step Nine, the amends. I’m not proud – I’ll ask for an amends from anyone who has done me wrong. Once in awhile, I’ll apologize to folks in spite of not knowing what it is they dream I may have done to them. Once I’m finished with those amends, I’ll make a list and go to step 8.

8. Maybe in my list, I realize I missed a few. Quite a few, as it turns out. Okay. Well, later for them. I will get to it, but today I am booked solid.

7. Next, I like to get to Steps Seven and Six, you know, asking to have my annoying quirks lessened. This is where I work hard at becoming a completely humble person—and I succeed. Plus I’m going to act better, much better, according to me. I apply my own rigorous standards to whatever it is I think I should be acting like. I’ll even ask “How am I doing?”

6. Then I become “entirely ready”—to see how my plan is going.

5. After that, I like to sit down with someone in the program, or maybe a bunch of people in a meeting or something, preferably people who don’t know me well, and share “the exact nature”—well, at least the approximate nature—of my wrongs. And how I feel about it. I don’t bother writing it all down. I’ll remember it later, and if not I can always explain it better in a meeting, preferably one where they don’t time shares.

4. Once that’s done, I’ll do that “fearless and thorough moral inventory” by jotting down a few “defects” (or “quirks” as I call them) I might have missed for future reference. I usually file those under “Things To Do”. My Step 4 is now complete.

3. Moving right along, I’ll “make a decision to turn my will and my life over”—by asking a Higher Power to pitch in. This requires my saying “Hey! How about a little help here?!??” This shows I am willing. I’m not proud! I’m willing to let God chip in when asked.

2. If my polite requests for help go unanswered, I realize I might need a change. I might be asking the wrong Higher Power. That’s when I come to believe. I believe I better redefine my Higher Power. I can start with a new theological philosophy. I’ll use the same approach, different God.

1. Once these steps are complete, I can address that pesky business about life being unmanageable, and that I’m powerless to change it by myself. This is one step that gives me fits! I don’t understand it… I’m working the other eleven so HARD. But I know if I do them again HARDER they’ll work. I read it in The Promises.

So—if you’re feeling the same way, try my approach—practice using just the Tools of the Program by working the Twelve Steps in any order you want! And be sure to let me know how it goes.

Happy trails!

* PS For a complete listing of The Twelve Steps, in the correct order, the entire AA Big Book is online — just Google it.