Thursday, September 17, 2009

Working The Steps.

I was laying out patterns and cutting fabric last night. I enjoy sewing; it's satisfying to start with a piece of material, and end with a new garment to wear. I like being able to choose material and pattern style, and I like having clothes that are unique. I have sufficient expertise to be able to make myself anything, from winter coats to summer dresses, and enough recovery not to drive myself insane in an attempt at perfection, although I do have to remind myself now and then that I'm making this dress for myself, and not the queen.

While I was engaged in this pursuit, I was thinking about an AA speaker I'd listened to earlier in the day, who'd said that if one never does anything but attend meetings, it's possible to stay sober, but you won't have much recovery - for that, you need to work the Steps. I believe this to be equally as true for those of us in Al-Anon - when I began to work the Steps, I began to change and grow.

The construction of a garment follows a certain logical progression. One can't sew the facings onto the neck opening, until one has created a neck opening, by stitching the front and back together at the shoulder seams.
I grant you that every now and then, a design element may require a bit of a change in how the garment is put together, but by and large, B not only follows A, it's a requirement, before one can proceed to C.

I believe this to be true for the Steps. Until I take the First Step, I cannot take any of the others - I must surrender. I must admit my powerlessness. If I'm still "reserving judgement" about the First Step, as I heard someone say at a meeting recently, how on earth can I be willing to turn my life over? This speaker had passed right over Step 1, 2, and 3, and tried to start at Step 4, with disastrous results. How can I do a searching and fearless moral inventory, if I'm still convinced that I'm right in all areas? How can I learn if I cannot listen and accept another reality apart from the one I've constructed?

When it comes to sewing, I don't fight the logical progression of garment construction, I just follow the instructions, because experience has taught me that the creators of the pattern know best how to assemble the garment.

When it comes to Al-Anon, I don't fight the logical progression of the Steps, I follow them in a serene faith, because once again, experience has taught me that my Creator knows best how to run my life, and by accepting that piece of reality, I will be relieved, joyous, and free.

Al-Anon gives us a pattern for a new way of living; it's up to us whether we use it, or whether we continue to just hack some likely-looking pieces out of the material, stitch them together, and then complain that they don't fit very well, and are hellishly uncomfortable.


  1. So very true about accepting the first three steps. Unless I was ready to surrender, and willing to believe it would not be a strong foundation for recovery.

  2. You've posted before about surreneder with Step 1. When I first read it I thought, "No way." But I take yoga, too, and the instructor keeps reminding us of the art of balancing willfulness with surrender. It occurred to me yesterday that I do, in fact, let go all the time, at least physically. So why not mentally? When I honestly accept Step 1, I don't have to treat life like a white-knuckle ride. I can choose to enjoy it and look for lessons in the moment. Thanks for the reminder!