We learn to live sober through the Twelve Steps. In doing so we find God. And in finding God we find ourselves. Miracles occur when we finally surrender everything to God and take action. One of the biggest miracles is realizing we can actually live without drugs and alcohol and still be truly happy and content.
We learn new truths about ourselves as we journey with God through each step. I remember vividly early in my sobriety hearing the Step Nine promises. The words struck me deeply, and I found myself wondering, “Can these promises come true for me?”
I was such a mess, so broken, fearful, and resentful. All the promises I ever made had been quickly broken or, conveniently, forgotten. With that came crushed spirits not only for those I had hurt but for me as well. That only led to more guilt, shame, and self-pity—followed always by more alcohol.
The Big Book says honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness are indispensable in our recovery. I would need these things along with much courage to take action on the steps preceding Step Nine in order to make amends to the people I had harmed over the years.
With the guidance of my sponsor, I took my Step Four “list” and made my way to all the people I had wronged. I admitted my faults and asked for forgiveness, accepting however they chose to respond. With each wrong made right, my vision became clearer and my load lighter. The words of the Step Nine promises started to come true:
“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
With each step of my recovery, I became more aware of who I was, why I drank and used, and how I could be free to live life on life’s terms. By the time I reached Step Nine, I was ready to face those I had hurt. My heart ached and my conscience was heightened with the pain I had caused others.
By clearing away the wreckage of my past I was no longer tripping over the waste I had created with my reckless behavior and selfish motives. By taking an honest look at my past sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and being cleansed by mercy I was released from years of denial and pain. I was nourished by Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist and filled with His grace. Christ uses my now redeemed sins to help other women in recovery find hope, forgiveness, and healing from abortion and other trauma. We are connected to a fellowship that binds us all to the words, “Freely ye received, freely ye give.” And we do it expecting nothing in return.
I don’t worry so much anymore about others because I believe God will take care of all things in His way and in His providential timing. I’m not afraid to face difficult people or situations because God is my director and I always seek good counsel and check my motives. I’m no longer hoarding money or spending frivolously because I realize everything that I have is a gift from God never to be taken for granted. With a recovery foundation built upon a firm faith, enduring hope, and reliance on God, we place our complete trust in the promises of our loving Father—today, tomorrow, and always!
Kathleen Ann, by God’s grace, has been clean and sober since June 1, 2006. She is an active member of AA, CIR, and works part-time as the Project Rachel Coordinator in the Life office at the Diocese of Rockford, where she helps gently and confidentially guide those wounded by abortion to hope and healing in Christ Jesus. On most days you can find her at daily Mass, the gym, or caring for the needs of her family, young and old alike.