It’s All About the Maintenance

I’ve been slowly working my steps with my sponsor, and have finally finished this go around.  I had steps 10, 11, and 12 to go, and since this is my umpteenth time through the steps, and I incorporate these 3 steps into everything I do, we worked them all together.  The last three steps are the program’s maintenance steps, how we should try to live our lives every day.  Even though I feel like I practice these steps pretty regularly, I still like to go through them with my sponsor.  She has me do some writing on them, and I always feel a sense of renewal in my program and have new insights that I hadn’t recognized before.

Step 10 of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous says:

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

step 10Step 10 is like a mini fourth step, that you do every day. It’s a way to hold yourself accountable, without procrastination (one of my biggest character defects), so that at night you can go to sleep knowing that you took care of your side of the street in all of your interactions that day. This was really difficult for me when I started out in the program. I had a lot of resentments, and I clung to them tightly. I had what I thought was justified anger, and most of the time, I wasn’t too keen on letting them go. I sometimes recognized my part in them, but even when I did, I was nowhere near “prompt” in my handling of them. Step 10 has helped me to stop avoiding taking responsibility. When I look back at my day, and I see a situation that I could’ve handled better, or I see someone who I owe an amends, I really do try to take care of it right away, and No matter the outcome, I always feel better for doing so.

There are different ways to do this step.  There are daily inventory worksheets you can download, and there are apps for your phone, or you can do what I did in the beginning and call your sponsor every night.  But really it comes down to asking yourself, “how did I do today? Is there anything that I need to make right?”  When you answer those questions honestly, and you take the necessary action, you’re working step 10.

Step 11 of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous says:

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

I love, love, love step 11! Now, that is. When I started out in AA, this step was one of the most daunting for me. I didn’t have any kind of relationship with God, and I didn’t know how I would ever get one. I never pictured myself as someone who prayed; I didn’t think that I could do it.step 11 coin

What I found was that Step 11 wasn’t something that had to be done perfectly from the start. It’s a step that evolves over time, starting as one thing, and growing into another. My prayers started out as simply as, “Help me, God” and “Thank you, God.”  That was all I could muster.  But it worked.  I no longer felt alone, like I had to do it all myself, and I felt grateful. Now, some four plus years later, my prayers and my relationship with God are full and rich. I talk to God all day long, and I thank him for everything, because I know that I couldn’t do this sobriety thing without Him.

Step 12 of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous says:

“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.”

step 12The first time I reached step 12, I realized that it assumes (guarantees, really) that by this time we will have had a spiritual awakening. I wondered, at first, had I had one? What if I hadn’t? Had I done the steps wrong? As I thought about it though, I realized how different things were for me. I wasn’t drinking anymore, I wasn’t creating more wreckage, I was taking responsibility for my past actions and bad behavior, I was improving my conscious contact with God, I was living recovery. If that’s not a spiritual awakening, I don’t know what is!

The latter part of step 12 is about helping others and living all of the steps every day.  I love to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I love spending time with other alcoholics. I try to reach out to people who need help, and who need to hear that there is a better way to live. I feel like it’s my obligation and my privilege to share my story and spread the word of AA.

The last three steps really are all about the maintenance. I know that when I am doing my best to work all three, my life is happy, joyous, and free.  That’s the way I want to be.

it works if you work it











6 thoughts on “It’s All About the Maintenance

  1. Yesterday morning I thought to myself that I hadn’t received a Sobergrace post in some time then voila! I’m back in the program w 50 days today, one day at a time. Your post is timely as my sponsor is putting off my step work (step4) for 3 more weeks, and threatening to start me back at step 1 due to my relapse. I’m beyond frustrated but trying to take the suggestions and resist my fight (I am a fighter). I’m also trying to balance my instincts (doesn’t feel right to hold off on step work) with my need for acquiescence and to take suggestions. Will head to a women’s meeting today to try to sort this out. Thanks again for your blog. Susan S.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I’m sorry to hear about your relapse…it happens to the best of us! I have to agree with your sponsor (sorry!), whenever I relapsed in the past my sponsor started me over on the steps because she said that I obviously hadn’t gotten step1 right, and that’s the only one we have to do 100%. I’m really happy that you are back on track!! Keep up the good work!

  2. I have always agreed with those who call these the “growth” steps instead of “maintenance” steps. I wanna grow! And you are doing that with these steps! Why maintain?? Go upwards! Expand! Shine brighter! I “maintained” most of my life – afraid to venture out my comfort zone. Now I find abundance when I break out of my comfort zone.

    I vascillate between being hardcore with these steps and then procrastinating…lol. I agree I feel better when I am doing them regularly. My step 11 also includes a worksheet that asks me the questions found on page 86 – do I owe an amends? Did I pack things into the stream of life? Where was I selfish? Was I uncaring? Etc. It paints a picture of my day and highlights things I may have missed.

    Great job and post, my friend! I have missed your writing, and glad to see you are doing well 🙂



    1. Thanks, Paul. It’s good to hear from you! I follow you on twitter and enjoy reading all of your tweets. 🙂
      I like calling 10, 11, and 12 the growth steps! I had never heard that before, and I’m totally stealing it from you now! I too, have been breaking out of my comfort zone. I’m doing more writing and some other things that are sometimes scary, but so worth it in the end. It feels good. I know that I couldn’t do any of it if I was still drinking, so my recovery still comes first, but doing different things is exciting.
      Take care and keep tweeting!
      Hugs to you,

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