Five Stories of Overcoming Hurts, Habits, and Hangups
The 12 steps aren’t just for Alcoholics Anonymous. They can change your life in ways you can never imagine. Just listed to how the steps changed the lives of these five people.
Overcoming Perfectionism and Workaholism
Work and worry were the watchwords in my early environment.
Family life centered around church, where I gathered many positive messages. But for some reason, my brain fastened on the negative. I heard subtle mandates in scripture, sermon, and song that drove me to obsessive/compulsive behavior: “We’ll work ‘til Jesus comes.” “Work for the night is coming.” “Be vigilant, lest you be caught unawares.” “Are you ready for Jesus to come?”
Studiously obeying these “commandments,” I became a world-class workaholic/ perfectionist, driving myself mercilessly for the next 40 years. The social and emotional consequences of my excessive behavior were enormous. When I finally accepted the fact that I was a workaholic and that this addiction was killing me, I went into a treatment center for addictive disorders. There, most of my peers were alcoholics. I could see that I was no different from them. Subsequently, I have found in twelve-step groups the guidance and support I needed to change long-standing, deep-seated, self-abusive habits into balanced, moderate, healthy living.
Codependents Anonymous: Battling Verbal, Physical, and Sexual Abuse
By the time I was seven years old, I began to notice the bizarre behavior going on in my home. I became a special target for my mother’s verbal abuse and screaming tirades. She took every chance she could to party, drink, and disappear for days with men. I saw many things a child shouldn’t see. At age 7 I was sexually abused by two uncles.
There were horrifying winters when we children were snowed in with our parents. When they got cabin fever, all hell broke loose. When we got older, we would try to intervene when our father was brutally beating our mother.
Violent outbreaks became so frequent that it became a part of my life to be on the alert for eruptions of temper. I developed the habit of scanning the environment for potential weapons that had to be hidden without my parents noticing. I would quietly direct my little brothers into the more remote areas of the house so they would be safe.
Fast forward to adulthood. I recall walking the floors and wringing my hands in anxiety. I thought a lot about suicide. I was isolated because I was too self-conscious to mix with people. Whenever I was out in public I felt like a bug under a microscope. I was haunted by the fear that people would see in me the terrible thing that my mother used to see, the thing that made me so bad that even my very own mother couldn’t accept me.
Seven years ago, I discovered Codependents Anonymous (CODA) I was advised to attend six meetings to really give it a chance. At first I didn’t understand what it was all about, but after awhile, I began to relate to others. I began to calm down. For the first time in my life I had a place to talk about all the things that were going on inside of me, and people actually listened! I discovered important life skills. But the thing I am most grateful for is that the members of my CODA group loved me when I couldn’t love myself.
Realizing the Need for Support
Jesus plucked me out of a world of active addiction in 1988 and my steps were ordered into the 12 step community. My clean date is May 1, 1989. There I found love, understanding, empathy and camaraderie with groups of people who knew that God was their only solution. I was given lasting solutions to my life problems. Addiction had provided me only temporary solutions and made existing problems worse.
As soon as I was introduced to AA literature I was fascinated at the genius of the way Christian principles were presented in nonreligious ways.
In October 1998, after approximately one year of study, along with two of my grandsons, I was baptized into a Seventh-day Adventist church.
[As I began to assume church alone would meet my needs], I began to isolate myself from my 12-step family. My spiritual life deteriorated as the “church lady” in me grew.
The Holy Spirit revealed my error to me. I began asking if anyone knew of any Christian 12-step programs. Someone told me about an addictions conference at Andrews University [Berrien Springs, MI] and assisted me getting there. I was introduced to the Adventist Regeneration Ministries at that time. As a result, the ministry was introduced at my church and we began a weekly Christ-centered 12-step meeting.
My spiritual life and my religious life are thriving with all my family, as I freely give what was so freely given me: God’s love!
Losing Alcohol—and Finding God
As a worldly 16-year-old, the following questions whirled through my mind: Does anybody care about me? Do I amount to anything? Do I make a difference to anyone on this earth? Is Jesus for real? Do I have a drinking problem?
I felt like I was drowning in an abyss of worldly pleasures and finding no happiness.
My boyfriend’s dad told me that I had a drinking problem and invited me to a 12-step meeting. As I sat in my first meeting, I listened, and my heart heard people talk about God helping them through the everyday problems I struggled with. Suddenly I realized, in a room full of complete strangers, that I was not alone. There was hope for me! With God’s help, following the 12-steps with a sponsor’s guidance, I began to experience freedom and wholeness, which continues now, 23 years later.
I know that Jesus is very real and He loves me very much. My life is valuable, and Jesus uses me to touch the world around me.
Thank-you, Lord, for using the 12-steps to draw me to You!
Married to an Addict
Addiction is a funny thing in that the compulsion is there and one cannot stop even when one tries repeatedly. For the partner of an addict this can be a problem.
For me it was constantly being in motion to stuff the pain of my own sexual trauma and the trauma from being married to a sex addict. It did not matter that my abuser was a minister, or my husband was active in the church. The bottomless pit was a deadly sexually transmitted disease.
This almost ended in suicide, but started a very long road to recovery. Hope came with attending 12-step meetings, working with a sponsor, and spending hours in Christian counseling.
Finding the meaning and understanding of a loving God who will not abandon me has been one of the hardest things. If you suspect that your partner has a sexual compulsion or addiction; trust your gut and seek help before it is too late.