If I have been conditioned to believe that, in practice, being responsible means being blamed, or, on the other hand, being burdened, I may have not realized I have had this trait, this triggered reaction embedded in my attitude until I run right into it in considering the Steps. For me, all twelve of the Steps are voluntary. I do not have to do them to be accepted as a member of any 12-Step fellowship or group. If I felt relief, discovering we get to set our own pace, I also quickly realize that this means I am being asked to be self-responsible. If I want the benefits of 12-Step recovery, it is up to me to do what it takes to get these perks. I may immediately feel upwelling fear—fear that I will fail, fear that I am not good enough to be in charge of my reparenting, maybe even fear that if I do this work, I will end up just being sneered at, rejected, or used.
It does not feel safe. That is why Step One asks me to admit that I am powerless to fix something, whether it is a substance abuse or a patterned behavior I just cannot seem to escape or stop repeating. I would not do the rest of the 12-Steps if I did not need to break these patterns. No, it doesn’t feel safe. It didn’t feel safe when I came into these rooms, and it still presents a challenge. I need courage to risk trying these ideas that I may not know even apply to me until I open up my heart and mind, and admit the truth, at least, about this one thing that I do that always seems to make things worse.
If I admit just one behavior, a rusty chain that anchors me to sadness, loneliness, shame, or depression, linking me to adverse experiences, I have disclosed the issue I can identify right now. That is where I choose to take control. My recovery gets anchored to a path that leads me into a sunlit meadow where I am safe. I discover friends. These Steps are not baited traps. They are not impossible, endless struggles to reach for goals that keep retreating. I can and do relax in sharing my experience, just for today. And it gets easier. It feels safe to let a Power Accessible to Me, a Power that loves me and isn’t powerless at all, become my source of hope, just for today.