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Beyond Expectations: Relationships in 12-Step Communities

When I was asked to submit a blog post for February, I was grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the past 6+ years and how sobriety has changed my life. As this offering falls in the month of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would focus on relationships.

Bonnie J. celebrates 6+ years of sobriety

What I have found in sobriety is a whole new way to approach relationships. The first vital relationships I found myself facing were with myself and my higher power. As a young girl, I developed a pattern of adaptation. I could become whatever was expected of me in order to be successful. I was acceptable as long as my image was acceptable. My first task in sobriety was to determine a baseline of who I was. The rigorous honesty required in my fourth step was my introduction to seeing myself and the world with a new lens. The very scary fifth step made me aware that I was acceptable to others with all my imperfections.

My foray into working the steps came slowly. For some time I did the three step shuffle. Facing the fourth step and the vulnerability to be rigorously honest took some time. I was told that I needed a sponsor so I went about finding someone to shepherd me through. It was NOT a linear process. I ended up a little like goldilocks.

The first woman was loving and knowledgeable, but I was not yet teachable. The second woman was also a seeker but transient and moved away. The third woman was the right person at the right time and I was ready and willing to be taught.

One of the lessons of that experience was perseverance. I hear “keep coming back till the miracle occurs” in the rooms of AA. This was very true for me. My will and ego want to run the show and I have to work the program on a daily basis to stay right sized and willing to take direction. As with many things in sobriety, the more I was willing to work the steps, the more peaceful and centered I became. I began to feel comfortable inside my own skin.

As I became comfortable with myself, I was also developing a deeper way of connecting with others. One of the great gifts has been developing a friendship that blossomed into a deep abiding love. I remember the early days of learning to share the new truths of myself that I was discovering through the Steps. I was full of fear, but I also came to understand that if I wanted this relationship to be different from past relationships I needed to leap into my truth. I had never voluntarily shared my faults with anyone. I was usually too busy trying to present the “successful image.” As my relationship with my higher power was developing, I came to trust that with truth came peace.

The results are amazing relationships which allow me to continue to grow and change as we grow in sobriety together.


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