One of the biggest problems people have with step work is the thought of taking the blame for all of their misdeeds. No one likes to admit that they were wrong and when it comes to those with addiction that desire is quadrupled. There is also the fact that for many of us, our addiction came on the heels of outside circumstances or events that we had no control over. Whether it was mental, emotional, physical or sexual abuse or unhealthy family dynamics or a predisposition to extra anxiety, melancholy thoughts or an inability to appreciate ourselves…. For most of us something preceded our addiction.
So let me be clear: When we do the steps - we are not taking the blame for our actions. What we are doing is taking responsibility for them. We didn’t choose the circumstances around our addictions and we did not choose the actions of our addictions. What we chose was unhealthy coping mechanisms. We thought these choices would help us - alleviate some of our racing thoughts, our anxiety, our feeling of not belonging…. The list just keeps going. We made a choice we thought would help us, but instead it hurt us more than we could have ever imagined. It took us down roads we thought we’d never travel and turned us into people we thought we would never become.
Taking responsibility means that we understand that we did the best we could given the knowledge and life experience that we had at the time. Taking responsibility means knowing that we are not bad… Our choices were, but we are not. So when we do the steps we are not taking the blame for anything - we are merely taking responsibility for the unintended consequences of our attempts to help ourselves.
The good news is we now know better. We are saying goodbye to our old selves, our old habits and for many of us - some of our old friendships. We are closing the door on the actions that got us here and starting down a new spiritual path with a complete road map (the 12 steps) of how to do life on earth with the most peace and the least drama. As we trudge down this path we will find that the promises of AA do come true… for some of us quicker… for some of us slower… but the promises do come true… All you have to do is keep coming back - to meetings, the Big Book, to your sponsor and/or accountability partners - whatever your program looks like… stick with it. If it’s not working - change it - try new meetings or adding meetings or adding service work or making a commitment to get to know one person every month or every week. Make the program work for you because those promises… they do come true.
" It takes a high degree of emotional awareness to see responsibility and self-blame as opposing states because both states recognize the self in a position of causation. For this reason, self-blame can disguise itself as responsibility like a wolf wearing sheep's clothing. But one is self-hating, the other self-loving. One condemns the self and the other saves the self. If you are taking responsibility, you are feeling empowered. If you are self blaming, you are feeling bad about yourself and disempowered.