Monday, April 19, 2010

I Failed the 12 Steps...

Many of you are not aware that I joined a 12 step program a few months ago. No, I'm not an alcoholic or a drug addict. Never have been. This 12 step program is slightly different. It is for any "Hurt, Habit, or Hangup" that is hindering a person from living a fully happy and successful life. It's a Christ based 12 step group for a wide variety of issues.

It's no secret that I've been through some serious stuff. It shouldn't be a surprise that a lot of it has really shaped who I am today and affected me. And some of it, I haven't been able to let go. I've tried to let the past be the past, but it just keeps sneaking up on me when I least expect it, and not allowing me to be the person I want to be. So, I thought that this 12 step program would/could/should be helpful. I thought it would help me comes to terms with the past and be done with it. So, I went. Every Thursday night.

The first time I started this endeavor, almost a year ago, I made it to Step 4. Once I hit Step 4, I shied away from the idea of writing down everything bad thing that had ever happened to me and every person I had ever hurt. For one, I didn't want to relive all that crap. For two, the writing down every person I ever hurt thing reminded me a lot of the Victim Impact Statements I had to write when I was locked up in juvi. No bueno. Bad memories. So I quit. Shame on me.

Life continued. Things happened. Crap I thought I was past started to pop up again. So I decided to try again. This time with a renewed committment and sincere hope that I would make it through and somehow be relieved of all this yucky stuff that was dragging me down.

Well, I quit again. Not because I am avoiding Step 4. Not because I don't think I should do it. Not because it wouldn't be incredibly helpful for me to continue.

I quit because I disagree with the basic premise of the group I was involved in.

With this group, it was totally ALL or NOTHING. There was no gray area. No room for missteps. No option for error.

Basically, in order to continue in the group - the following had to happen:

1. I would have to give up alcohol completely. No drinking. None. Period.
2. No relationships. No sex. No dating.
3. No making "big" decisions for the next 6 months. Regarding a job, a new vehicle, a move, anything.
4. In accordance with #1 - no partying. No going out. No "negative" friends.
5. Be willing to spill my entire, albeit incredibly screwed up life, with a group of people I hardly know and have very little in common with.
6. Be "selfish" i.e focus solely on myself for the next 6 months.

Eh. I don't think so.

1. I'm not an alcoholic. I could see this being necessary if I was. But I'm not. Therefore, this seems unwarranted. And legalistic. Like what? The powers that be won't allow me change should I have a beer with friends after work or go out with friends on a Friday night?

2. Again - I'm not a fan of having my decision making capabilites taken away. I would like to think that I'm a mature and responsible adult who can decide whether a person or a relationship is a healthy thing for me. I understand that the group is for people who are screwed up, which I fully admit that I am, but I don't think banning me from men is the way to fix that.

3. Yep, not gonna happen. I'm going to school in June. Which requires HUGE decisions regarding where. Along with a move to Austin. This is necessary to further my life and wellbeing. Sorry. Can't put that on hold for 6 months while I hang out in group therapy.

4. Same issues as 1 and 2. And the fact that according to their criteria, every friend I have in Houston is a "negative" friend. It just seems a bit lot narrowminded for my tastes. Granted, my friends and I don't agree on everything. We often differ on subjects of serious importance, including politics, religion, and child rearing. Some choose to live lifestyles that I wouldn't. I'm sure I do things they wouldn't. But I don't think that qualifies them as "negative". My friendship tests includes whether or not they support me, are there for me when I need it, and can try to understand and respect my feelings and opinions even if they disagree. Them dragging me to church once a week and telling me they will pray for me doesn't cut it. I need friends who are authentic and true to themselves, because they help me to be the same. And isn't that the point of the 12 steps anyway?

5. Again, yea right. I'm a fairly open person, but even I have some subjects that are strictly off limits. Unless I bring it up, you don't. Period. I realize there are things that need to be talked about and worked through, but I think 1 on 1 is a much better way to do that than with a group of semi-strangers, regardless of how understanding they may seem. Because regardless of confidentiality clauses in these groups, women are still women, and women like to gossip. No thanks.

6. I'm a single mom raising 2 boys and working 50 hours a week. Enough said.

So... I failed the 12 steps. I couldn't "hack it". At least not in that format.

But I'm not totally quitting. I'm going to continue to go through the steps by myself. In my own time, and my own way. They say in the group that doing it my way won't provide the healing I need, but I disagree.

I'm pretty sure that God can meet a person wherever they are. If he can't, then he doesn't get to call himself the Almighty God. I don't have to go to meet with a group of individuals once a week and adhere to a strict set of rules to get healing and closure. That's one way to do it, sure. But it's not the only way. And I'm not there. And I certainly don't want to pretend that I am, because then I'm just cheating myself. Because let's face it - He already knows.

So I'm going to try it another way. I'm going to see what it takes to let of the past and move towards the future. And I'm going to do it without a set of legalistic notions that I don't agree with.

So maybe for now, "failing" the 12 Steps isn't such a bad thing. Maybe it leads to awesome success in the bigger picture. We shall see...

1 comment:

  1. Being a realist is a big step in any kind of healing. If a program doesn't work for you, it's not going to help you even if you try to stick with it. God meets us where we are; he doesn't call us to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. Just continue being real with him and real with others, and he'll do mighty things in you. :)