by Charles M. (Punanai 2001)
“Life is difficult.”
So begins “The Road Less Travelled,” a wisdom book about living well by Scott Peck. Talk about keeping it simple! We hear the same awareness time and again in the rooms of recovery: “Just because I’m sober doesn’t mean my life is easy.”
I had no idea what Peck was talking about when I first opened his book back in the mid-1980s — probably because I was neck deep in my addiction and desperate to believe that everything in my life would just work out. Magically.
Now I get it — probably because I’ve been clean and sober for a while and I’m paying attention. Today I’m free to say “Yes” to life, and most days I choose to face life on its terms, not mine, as best I can.
Unfortunately for me, however, I don’t always have answers for life’s challenges. The next right action isn’t always clear to me. In fact, living sober sometimes leaves me feeling as rudderless, scared, and discouraged as I felt when I was using.
Life is difficult. And I don’t mind admitting I need a power other than King “I” to help me live sober — just as I needed that same power to help me get sober.
Enter Step Eleven, my favourite Step.
Something about this Step grabbed me — I can’t quite say what. I jumped right into it the day after l graduated from “The House.” I still try my best to greet each new day with a time of prayerful and meditative quiet.
At first this was new and it was hard. And I definitely still need discipline to keep it up. I do keep it up because I’ve grown to like how the still, deep quiet feeds my spirit. I need that. And I love the results.
Step Eleven is my anchor. Working this Step keeps me grounded in my relationship with the higher power I committed to in Step Three, and then some — it takes that relationship to a deeper place. I tap into courage when scared; strength when worn out; comfort when hurt or lonely; determination when discouraged. Step Eleven keeps me trudging along.
Over time, I’ve learned what works best for me. If I want solid results, I need a solid morning routine with built-in quality time for practicing the Step. A rush job doesn’t cut it. For me, that’s 20 minutes minimum — I prefer at least a half hour, if not longer. And of course that dictates when I set the alarm!
I’m better at the conscious part of “conscious contact” if I start by taking what time I need to calm my thoughts, relax my body, and settle into a true quiet. Sometimes that takes a few minutes and sometimes, on bad days, longer. And I’m more open — less easily distracted — if I do my Step work first thing in the morning, before the rush of getting ready for work.
Step Eleven is also my rudder. I can’t describe how that works for me any better than the Step itself does:
“In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come …”
~ “The Big Book,” Step 11, page 86
“Ask.” I don’t always know what to do. When I was new and inexperienced with this Step I’d pray for direction, then immediately look to the elders in recovery for advice. I still do.
“Relax and take it easy.” “Don’t struggle.” If I’m anxious and impatient, then I’m fighting the Step. That blocks the power in the process from doing its work.
And then, “Surprise!” A burden lifted; a door opened; a next step; a new direction.
Practicing this Step over time has given me a more open heart, one with a greater capacity to listen. It’s more natural for me to sit and wait with patience. Best of all, I can better recognize the inspiration, or intuition, that actually does come from my deepest, truest self, from my wise child, from my God. And to trust it!
All in all, Step Eleven gives me an unshakeable foundation for life — just as it promised me.
Practicing this Step over time has given me a more open heart, one with a greater capacity to listen. Best of all, I can better recognize the inspiration, or intuition, that actually does come from my deepest, truest self, from my wise child, from my God.