Step Three in recovery

by Broken_Dreamer01

This was my experience with step three in recovery the first time.

The Creation of Adam, Detail of God's and Adam's Hands, from the Sistine Ceiling
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Addiction makes your decisions for you, recovery gives them back

We made a decision...

"This step is very important."

"What step?" I asked.

"Step three."

"What happened to step one and two?" I asked.

"We did those already."


"You remember when you told me that your life was unmanageable?"

"Yes. You asked me if I had any power over my addiction."

"Right. That was step one."


"You remember our search for a power greater than you?"

"Yeah. You made me write a list."

"You remember I asked you if any of those things could restore you to sanity?

"Yeah. You made me write a description of a God I could trust."

"You remember our conversation a few minutes ago? The one about this God having enough power to restore you to sanity?"

"Yeah, I haven't fried THAT many brain cells."

She laughed. I laughed with her. It was the first time I had said something that made someone laugh and I didn't feel they were laughing AT me.

 "Those were steps one and two."


I felt rather dumb. She had been guiding me through the steps and I had no idea. I was reading the book, doing the work, and could not put the two together.

"This is the step where you make a decision. No one, not even me, can help you with it. For some of us, it was the first decision we had made since we chose to use drugs. It is a monumental step."

"I read the step. You want me to put my life and my will in the care of this Higher Power. I have no idea what this Higher Power is. You have not mentioned anything about this Higher Power." I said.

She tipped her head and looked at me for long moments. Then, a smile spread across her face and lit up her eyes.

"I am not here to tell you what to believe. I am here to help you figure out what you already believe and help you learn to trust in that."

"You mean... Wait... What?"

 "You have jumped ahead. We need to make a decision, but first we have to know what, exactly, we are deciding."

Here is a bit of recovery fun...

Addiction steals your will and your life, recovery brings them back turn our will and our lives over...

"I don't want you to make this decision and realize that you had no idea what you were deciding."

"Okay." I said.

"What is your will?"

"My will is my determination to do the things I decide to do." I said.


"What do you mean?" I asked. 

"Your will is your thoughts."

"My will is my thoughts?" I echoed.

"Yes. Your will is your thoughts. Your will is what you think."

"Okay." I said.

 "What is your life?"

I thought about this for a minute. She had a different definition of will and I was sure she had a different definition of life. I could not think of what it was.

"My life is this mess I live. My life is what happens to me every day. My life flat out sucks!" I said.

"Those things may be true. However, your life is not those things. Those things are a result of your life."

"What?" I said.

"Your life is the action you take in each situation mixed with the reaction of others to those actions. You can choose the action but not the reaction, so we are going to say that your life is your actions."

"Okay." I said.

"Let's try this again. What is your will?"

"My will is my thoughts."

"What is your life?"

"My life is my actions."

"Good. We need to stop here. I want you to write about your will, or thoughts, and your life, or actions, for the next week. Choose one or two actions each day, write about the thoughts that proceeded them and then the actions."

She was out of her freaking mind! What thoughts proceed getting dressed? What thoughts proceed going to work? What thoughts proceed using the restroom? What the hell did she expect from me?

Each night, I wrote about something I did. The first day, I wrote about picking my kids up from the bus stop. The second day, I wrote about cooking dinner. The third day, I wrote about cleaning the house. The fourth day, I wrote about grocery shopping. The fifth day, I wrote about walking the dog. The sixth day, I wrote about watching tv. The seventh day, I wrote about writing the thoughts and actions. At the end of the writing, I put "I will that this lesson could have been taught in a less uncomfortable manner, but my life would most likely prove otherwise."

Addiction destroys trust, recovery gives it back the care of God AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM.

She looked at my writing and laughed. I seethed with anger at her laughter until she pointed out what I had written at the bottom. She was laughing about how I had used those words with the new definitions I had learned.

"I like that! I wish I had thought of that when I had to do this."

"You mean I won't have to do this again?" I asked.

"You will have to do the steps again, but there are parts of this you won't have to do again. You won't have to write about your will and your life again."

"What do you mean I will have to do the steps again? I thought this would keep me from feeling the need to use." I said.

"It will, as long as you continue to do the steps. There is always room for improvement."

"You're out of your mind! I cannot continue to go to meetings and write like this for the rest of my life! What about work? What about my kids? What about my boyfriend? What about friends? What about having a life?" I said.

"If you still have all those things, you're ahead of most people who come to this program. Did you think about those things when you were using?"

"Yes. It was all I thought about." I said.

"Did it stop you?"

"No." I said.

"Stop wasting my time and go get high."

"What? Wait! I don't want to get high." I said.

"You have to chase your recovery like you chased your dope."

"I don't understand. I thought this would cure me." I said.

"There is no cure for addiction. There is only a reprieve and that is only daily."

"I don't understand." I repeated.

"You will."

I sat there, numb with fear. I couldn't even look at her. I could only stare at the table. What was I going to do? I was already getting into heated discussions with my boyfriend about these meetings.

"You remember your description of God?"


"I want you to take it out and read it."

I turned the notebook to the description of God and read it to myself. Then, I looked at her.

"Good. With that firmly in mind, I want you to repeat after me."

"Okay." I said.

"This is the God of my understanding."

"This is the God of my understanding." I said.

"Do you believe?"

"No. I hope." I said.

"We will start with that and see how it goes. We may have to revisit this step at some point."

"Okay." I said.

"Now, we need to make the decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understand Him. In your own words, what does that mean?"

"I must give my thoughts and actions to the God I described in my notebook." I said.


"What do you mean?"

"It is not something you can just do. It is something you decide to do and then practice. We are human. We make mistakes. We must do this every time we think about it, because it is not natural to us."

"So, I must choose to give my thoughts and my actions to the God I described in my notebook? I must do this every day?" I said.

"Sometimes, a thousand times a day."


"Let us say the third step prayer together."

When we were finished, she looked at me and tipped her head. Then, she smiled and began to gather her things. 

"I want you to pray to God every morning and ask Him to take your will and your life. I want you to pray every night and thank Him for another day clean."


"God is where we practice relationships. We learn to trust God, respect God, have intimacy with God. Then, we can take what we have learned into the world and practice them with other people."


Like a shadow in a horror flick, the demons inside turn out to be nothing but fear.
I think I may need more than duct tape this time...
Updated: 01/10/2012, Broken_Dreamer01
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