Tuesday, September 12, 2006

12 steps are not the steps

Back from my home group meeting, Tuesday night Downtown Group, a small affair usually, and not so prone to some of the more formulaic AA Big Book rote approach. Some shared that the 12 Steps are "instructions" for maintaining conscious contact with a Higher Power. No, no, no. Well, if it seems to work for you to think that way fine, what do I know? The way the truth seems to me, there are no instructions, no road map, no magic bullet or magic formula or set of right actions or thoughts. If we could figure it out and then get it right, it wouldn't be God. Saying the 12 Steps are a set of instructions suggests two things: if we follow them "correctly" we'll stay sober, and if we drink again, we must have done something "wrong." Nothing seems further from the Spirit of the program than these eventual conclusions. Reminders, maybe. Tools for spiritual growth, possibly. Instructions? Nope.

Step 1 is where this repeated attempt to latch onto identities and control strategies really goes out the window. I don't want God in a box and I don't want some sort of ritualized and control/fear-based reduction of a spiritual experience. The "common solution" that we can all absolutely agree on and join in brotherly and harmonious action is a mystery, a point without a part, something ineffable that we only talk around or about.

Control based sobriety has some common features: "I was such an asshole before I got sober and now I'm a good person." That's one of the most common. I'll be observing others. But certainly "Work the steps as a guarantee that you'll stay sober" is another one.


unnarrator said...

I assume that when you say "brotherly" you mean "sisterly" too; for as once Oedipus protested to the Sphinx, everyone knows that.

peter breslin said...

hey, all I know is exactly what the Big Book says. Messing around with that canonical text means I will *necessarily* drink again.

unnarrator said...

Not a new argument, really, that "Feminism drives men to drink." ;o)