Having recently worked through the 12 steps with my sponsor, I wanted to write about my experience with the final step, one we continue to work each and every day…
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Carry the message. Step 12 is all about fulfilling our primary purpose and helping others. My sponsor and I read through Chapter 7 in the Big Book as well as the reading in ’12 Steps and 12 Traditions’. We spoke through some of the readings but afterwards my sponsor told me I was ready and should start speaking to newcomers to try and find a sponsee of my own.
I’ll be honest, I was hesitant at first. I didn’t feel ready, I was only 7 months sober myself. I’d worked through the steps quickly, but aggressively and thoroughly. I still felt like an imposter, I didn’t know where to find certain readings in the Big Book and I couldn’t tell you what each chapter of the book was about. I felt like I was still learning more and more each day, about myself, the programme and this new way of living. How was I supposed to take someone else through the Steps?
This feeling of nervousness and inadequacy lasted around 4-6 weeks. I was speaking to newcomers and trying my best to carry the message, but it was only after this additional period of time that I felt confident in myself that I was ready for the responsibility of being a sponsor.
One thing which really helped me was a call with a fellow from my home group. I spoke about how I was feeling and they reassured me that this was totally normal. Very few people actually feel like they are fully ready for their first sponsee. We don’t need to know the book by heart and be able to recite passages chapter and verse. If a difficult situation comes up with one of our sponsees we don’t need to have all the answers, this is where our own sponsor and network of fellows come in, together we can share our experiences and help people new to the programme.
While sponsorship itself is part of Step 12, there’s lots of ways you can actively work this step to carry the message to those who still suffer. Here’s some examples of other ways to work this step:
Sharing in meetings. Sharing your experience, strength and hope in a meeting is an example of working this step. I occasionally visit newcomer meetings so that I can share experiences of the programme and working the steps to those still in early sobriety.
Service. One of my service positions is a Literature Secretary at a weekly online meeting. It’s not the most obvious way of working Step 12, but by doing so I make sure any newcomers are able to get access to any material they need.
Reaching out to fellows. Calling newcomers is a big part of Step 12 but calling other fellows is also a key part of this step. At the end of the day we are here to support each other no matter how long our sobriety, so calling someone else and listening or giving some advice when someone is feeling low is still a great way to work this step.
I’ve also occasionally done reddit AMA’s like this when I have time to speak to newcomers from around the world.
Writing this blog. This is an unconventional one, I started writing this blog to help with my own understanding of the programme and to keep myself busy in early sobriety. However now my mission is to keep writing and hopefully help anyone new to early recovery in the process.
Sponsoring. I’ve recently started working with my first sponsee. This is where I can truly work Step 12. I can help pass on what I’ve learned and help someone else gain the sense of freedom, happiness and purpose I now have in my life.
As with any part of the programme we need to remember progress, not perfection. There are certainly periods where I’m not working things as hard as I could. This is where we need to remember the second part of this step, “practice these principles in all our affairs“.
We need to work the programme each day and work step 12 as much as possible to help fulfil our primary purpose and help those who still suffer.