Written by Chloe Cramer, Programs Director at The Magdalen House
In 12 step recovery, we aren’t supposed to have heroes, mentors, or leaders. There are no gurus or experts. But there was this one guy in my first handful of years whom I had put on a pretty big pedestal. I had several of his tapes that I listened to on a loop, and when he came to a Salvation Army a few hours from my house to put on a weekend-long Big Book workshop, I got a group of friends to listen to what he had to say. I knew he had a solid message of recovery that aligned closely with my experience, and I was eager to learn more.
After a brief introduction, he launched into a primer of what would prove to be the theme of the weekend: it began with something along the lines of, “Who here considers themselves to be a Big Book thumper? Who believes that the Big Book or the 12-Steps are the solutions to alcoholism? Well, I’m here to tell you that the Big Book will not get you sober. The 12-Steps will NOT get you sober. Your sponsor, meetings, writing a thorough 4th step, making amends, sponsoring people – none of these things are the solution to alcoholism that we talk about here. Instead, having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps and accessing a power greater than yourself is the solution. Developing and growing a relationship with that Higher Power – that is what will get you, and keep you, sober. A spiritual awakening and the ensuing journey is the solution. Just like you are not an alcoholic because of outside forces and how they affect you, you are not recovered from alcoholism from the outside resources you instill in your life. Without a spiritual awakening, you cannot recover from alcoholism and without remaining awakened spiritually, you cannot maintain your recovery. The Big Book, the steps, your sponsor, meetings, all these things are powerful tools that will help you access this Power that will get you sober and sustain long-term recovery.
That simple shift in perspective was a lightbulb moment for me and caused a powerful reassessment of what my aim needs to be and what we do here in recovery. It is so easy to focus on the process that I lose sight of the point. The point isn’t to do the steps to get sober. We do the steps because they are a powerfully effective way to access a Higher Power, which will solve my alcohol problem. Belief is not enough, and faith is not enough. Developing a relationship with this Power and then helping those still suffering access the Power – that is what this program is all about.