12 Steps: The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife

Last night’s AA Big Book study group meeting really drove home that this program is like a Swiss Army Knife that’ll cut through any number of things that hold us back.

Mood music:

As you know by now, I use the 12-Step program to maintain my sobriety and abstinence in the face of a devastating binge-eating disorder. But it’s done so much more than help me manage addictive behavior. It has brought me closer to God and sharpened all the skills I had to learn to manage the OCD.

It has also made me much more aware that I’m too attached to technology, and that if  I’m not careful that will consume me as well.

Here’s the beauty of these step-study meetings and the Big Book as a whole: The focus is on that hole in your soul that pushes you toward any number of bad behaviors:


–Pornography (See The Priest Who Failed)

–Pedophilia (See The Pedophile, parts 1, 2 and 3)

Just to name a few.

I never name names or go too far into detail on what is said at these meetings, because anonymity is critical for a lot of people. But I can get into it if I keep it general and leave names out, so here goes:

The main speaker last night was a woman who is recovering from both alcoholism and a sex addiction. She talked mostly about the sex thing because that’s something we covered in the Big Book first.

She described sex as something she used to escape reality. Love had nothing to do with it, just like my binge eating never had anything to do with being hungry. It was the action that mattered, the effort to fill the empty feeling with something. For me it was food and, to a smaller extent, alcohol. To someone else it’s heroin or sex.

This woman now has to abstain from sex. To some people that might seem harsh. But for those of us who have a more old-fashioned idea of how sex fits into the fabric of things, it makes much more sense. When you do anything to excess long enough three possible outcomes are in store for you:

–You’ll smack head-on into an illness that will eaither kill you or force you to make big changes in how you live.

–If you’re lucky, you’ll simply stop getting that contented feeling the action used to give you. When the high no longer comes, it means you’ve done it so much that there’s no longer enough of it to feed your angry soul.

–You will have hurt so many people with your actions the choice will come down to being alone or making some serious amends. 

Whichever of these things happens, when a person hits the bottom of the trash can and they’re still lucky enough to be breathing, they need some sort of structure — a map — to help them pick up the pieces.

The 12 Steps won’t work for everyone. I don’t believe in all-purpose silver bullets.

But from my personal experience, I’ve found that this program is about as close as I’ll ever get to the silver bullet.

22 thoughts on “12 Steps: The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife

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