Written by Carly Sorenson, First Step Program Coordinator

When we want something to change in our lives (relationships, careers, health issues), we usually try different ways of approaching the problem to find a solution. And when certain ideas do not work, we try to find different ones until we see changes occur. The experience of success and failure with different solutions helps us grow as humans and inform how we look at problems.

I left The Magdalen House with two weeks of sobriety under my belt and moved into sober living. I had the same sponsor, approached the program in the same way as before, and was going to the same home group. My sponsor had seen me through several relapses and opted to keep me on step one for a while instead of taking me through the steps quickly. The problem is that I had always taken the steps slowly and had never gotten past step one, which always resulted in another relapse. I remember seeing other alcoholic women around me who were free and joyous. Sure, I felt better than I had in years, but something was still missing- I did not feel free or joyful.

The problem is that I had always taken the steps slowly and had never gotten past step one, which always resulted in another relapse. I remember seeing other alcoholic women around me who were free and joyous. Sure, I felt better than I had in years, but something was still missing- I did not feel free or joyful.

I continued to live in sober living, follow directions and pray to my new Higher Power daily. Finally, after three months without moving forward in the steps, doing the same things I had before, I was miserable; sober, but unhappy. I knew to my core that I was an alcoholic and that what I had done in the past would not work- I needed to do something different.

So, I went back to Maggie’s and attended several meetings. I felt a connection to a woman who was chairing a meeting one day and asked her to sponsor me. I told her I was three months sober and hadn’t worked the steps, and the first thing she asked was, “how are you still sober?” She agreed to work with me, and we immediately got busy on steps one, two, and three, completing them in one afternoon.

When it was time to work on my fourth step, I asked her to give me a deadline to complete my inventory. She gave me a week. We then met to complete my fifth step. I had never understood before that my character defects were blocking me from a spiritual awakening and actually making my spiritual malady worse. I’ve always said that I felt like something was missing, and now I knew what it was– I was starting to discover the difference between being “sober” and recovering from alcoholism.

I’ve always said that I felt like something was missing, and now I knew what it was– I was starting to discover the difference between being “sober” and recovering from alcoholism.

In the days following my fifth step, I quickly worked the rest of the 12 steps with my sponsor. I could feel a change in me, but it was hard to pinpoint what it was. Soon after, I went to lunch with my mom, and she looked at me and said, “you are so happy!” At that moment, it dawned on me that what I had been experiencing this time around was a spiritual awakening. It was different than just being “sober”; the experience of working the steps quickly opened the road to recovery.

The experience of working the steps quickly opened the road to recovery.

Once I began working with my new sponsor, I worked the steps in four weeks. As I had my first true step one experience, I was motivated to try a different solution. I found a new sponsor, moved quickly through the steps, and, most importantly, I was honest with myself and my sponsor as I moved forward.

I was fortunate that I went back to The Magdalen House community. I desperately wanted a different solution, and I found a way out there. I am grateful for the experiences of going through the steps slowly, of staying sober but miserable.

I am grateful for the experiences of going through the steps slowly, of staying sober but miserable.

That experience of trying a different way to get sober informs the way I sponsor today, the way I approach problems, and how I grow in the recovery journey. Today, I am free and joyous – grateful to be a recovered alcoholic.

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