The First Three Steps Of Drug Recovery: Hope, Faith And Trust

SOA 010 | Drug RecoveryThe path to drug recovery has always been using the 12 Step Program to help change the lives of addicts. Mastering the first three steps: hope, faith and trust is critical to building momentum for recovery. Both Frankie M and Steve A admitted that they were powerless over their drug addiction. Their sponsors helped them realize that better days will come if they turn to a power greater than them. Making mistakes is part of the journey to recovery, but the challenge is to not make those mistakes over and over again. Frankie M and Steve A share their stories of going through the steps and how it allowed them to become a stronger person throughout the years.

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The First Three Steps Of Drug Recovery: Hope, Faith And Trust

We have an episode of the Stories of Addiction podcast which features two speakers. The first speaker is Frankie Marie who is a senior member of the management team of responsible Recovery, which offers structured sober living at Gault House in Santa Cruz, California. Frankie has approximately 20 years of clean time after an equally long period of heroine addiction and prostitution. The second speaker is Steve. Steve has a down to earth perspective on addiction and recovery from addiction. Both speakers are loosely talking about the first three steps of the 12 step program. Stay sober.

Frankie M from Santa Cruz.

My name is Frankie. I’m an addict. I’m supposed to talk about steps one, two and three, which I do work that almost every day. I got here on July 4, 1995. Step one is we admit that we are powerless over addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable. When I came here, I didn’t believe that. I came here from a place where I was mean, I was ugly, I was no good and I sold myself. I came into these rooms where all of you people sat there looking pretty or looking handsome and looking good with nice clothes and everything and I thought, “You are all using. You just have a good way of hiding it and I’m going to find out how you do it because I want to do that too.” I also came in here with a lot of tattoos so I was so scared, I didn’t want you to know I was afraid. I came in here making you think I’m a badass biker chick and I wore those masks that they talk about in Recovery. Those masks were the fear. The masks were, “I didn’t want to admit anything. I was better than you. I was so scared I didn’t want you to see it. I would rather have you afraid of me.” I carry those masks for a long time.

I’ll never forget my first meeting. I was listening to this guy and I’m thinking, “There is just no way.” I thought he was lying. It was a traumatic story and it broke my heart and I thought, “There’s just no way.” I would listen to people speak thinking, “What am I going to say? I was in the streets. I sold myself. I got put on my knees many times and had a gun put to my head or a gun barrel in my mouth. That doesn’t sound good in Recovery. What am I going to say?” I decided that I need to get a sponsor. The lady that I chose to be my sponsor, I did not like her. She was very serious about her recovery. She was the kind of woman that will pick you up, slap you beside the head, tree down, stomp on you then pick you up and love you unconditionally. That’s exactly what I needed. This woman made me work the twelve steps, the twelve traditions and the twelve concepts.

In my first five years in Recovery, I still run amok, “Don’t you know who I am? This is Frankie. Frankie is here.” Finally on my five years my sponsor said, “You’re done. It’s time to get serious now.” I was saying, “What’s this about?” “You can’t get in a relationship in the first year of your Recovery. If you want to know about relationships, get your ass in one,” and I did, long-term, short-term, hit and run. I learned quickly. Then I started working the steps from that and realized what I had done, what I did and what I should do. It was hard working the first three steps, which today is so easy in my life. Back then, it was really hard because I was ashamed. I didn’t want you to know what I did when I was out there. I didn’t want anyone to know who I portrayed myself to be. When it was time to get honest, that was very hard. I’m the kind of person that even when I was using, I can’t look at someone in the face and lie to him. I wouldn’t tell too many people that because then they’d know. My sponsor knew. Instead of talking with my head down all the time, she made me talk with my head up and I had to scroll my eyes back and forth. That was a habit.

I did that and it got a little bit easier, but I still had a lot of shame in me. I was sexually, mentally and physically abused from the time I was six years old until I was seventeen. Back in those days, you couldn’t say nothing to nobody. I kept that inside and I hated my stepfather. I hated the people that hurt me and I hated this person or that person. Today, I carry no hate in my heart. Step three says, “Make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as we understand Him.” I had a hard time with that because how am I supposed to believe in someone I had never seen, touched or spoke to? My sponsor says, “You can make anything your Higher Power, just don’t make it a doorknob because a doorknob is going to break. Pick something that doesn’t break.” That was really hard for me because I’m like, “There is no God because if there was, there is no way he would have let me go through what I went through,” so I’m starting to feel sorry for myself. I’m asking these questions to my sponsor, “Why do I have to go through this? Why did that have to happen?” She had a hard time with me, but she stayed with me. Today, I’m 22.5 years clean and I am not that biker chick that walked through that door. Yes, I have tattoos. Yes, I love motorcycles but I’m not a badass biker chick; not at all.

Today, I don’t carry hate in my heart. I don’t hate anyone. I dislike people but I don’t hate anyone. I care. I really truly care about people. I found a way to put myself in your shoes. When you’re telling me something that you are having a hard time going through and I ask myself, “How am I going to help this person?” I put myself in your shoes and then I find myself relating to what you’re saying. Because I’ve been through that pain, then I’m able to come back with something for you. I’m very grateful today. There are good days and there are bad days. I have days where I think, “How can this person do this to me? Poor me.” To the next day, “Whatever happens, happens, I know what I need to do.” Has the obsession left me? Never and I’m glad. I’m afraid if that obsession leaves me, I may go out and use and I don’t want to. I choose not to surround myself with any people that use. I choose not to go into places where I know people are using. Today, I have God in my life. It took a long time, but I have God in my life. Today, I understand why some things happen.

In Recovery, I’ve lost two grandchildren. If I didn’t have a concept of having something greater than me in my life, how was I able to deal with that? I was back to steps one, two and three. I worked those every single day. I get on my knees every single day and I pray. I reach out every single day to someone, somehow, someway because I feel good about it. Not to get something back from them, but it makes me feel good that I’m able to do something for someone for nothing. That took a long time for me too. I was selfish when I came here, very selfish, “I’ll be your God. You don’t have a God? I’ll be your God. Don’t you know? I’ll be it. I’ll fix this for you or I’ll fix that for you,” and I got hurt along the way and I needed to get hurt to feel. Once I was able to feel then I could reach out to God, my God of my understanding and try and work this out.

Today, I’m 62 years old and I don’t want to die anymore. I did back in the day. I wanted to die bad. I don’t want to die today. My children are in my life. My grandchildren have never seen their grandma use. I have ten granddaughters. I just got back from Arkansas. I spent some time with my kids and my grandchildren and went to some meetings over there. I know people there too. I got there for the first time feel that unconditional love from a child that they give you. I got to feel that times ten. It was so overwhelming because I’ve never felt that before. I truly felt that this time. I go back to step one, two and three. I thank God today. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. My sponsor tells me, “As long as you make a mistake, you’re okay. If you repeat that mistake, there’s a problem,” and it’s true. I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m going to make it to the best of my ability not to make that same mistake twice and trust me, I make mistakes every day. I have to make decisions on people’s lives and that’s really hard. I have done worst than some of them have and how can I justify something? It’s really hard. I work step one, two and three, which allows me to be strong and when I walk in those doors to make that decision, I’m a strong person in Narcotics Anonymous walking through that door not the weak Frankie that just came in those doors that’s so afraid, so scared wearing the mask thinking, “Don’t you know who I am?” That’s not who I am today. I’m really grateful for that.

I love these conventions. I run a clean sober house, Responsible Recovery and I tell my guys, “Go to this convention. It will change your life.” Once you hit a world convention, amazing. The newcomer that stood up today, thank you. Because of you, I won’t use today. That’s the honest to God truth. A newcomer saved my life. My sponsee saved my life. My group in my Recovery, they saved my life and they call me on my stuff. I don’t like it but they call me on stuff where, “Frankie, you’re pushing a little too far this way. You’re acting too much like this,” and they bring me back out of love and I know that. I am content today. I wake up every day. I work steps one, two and three every day.

I pray every day and I can get up, walk with my head up high and know, as long as I didn’t reach out and hurt someone but reach out and touch someone, I’ve done something good. I can lay my head down on my pillow every night and ask myself, “Before you close your eyes and go to sleep, did you do something good today? Did you make someone smile? Were you able to help someone?” If I answer yes on all three or one, I’ll close my eyes and go to sleep. If I don’t answer yes, I’d sit there and evaluate for an hour in my head, “Where did I go wrong?” I am a good woman in Recovery and I’m proud to be that. I’m a good mom. I’m a good friend. I’m a good teacher. I’m a good woman in Recovery that is no better than the newcomer that walks in that door or no better than the guy that’s got 37 years. He beat me up here. When I find out that people have more time than I do, I’m stoked because I go, “I’m going to watch him and see what he is doing because I want to get that.” I watch for the newcomer because that person is going to save my life. Just so you know, you are an asset to me. Because of you, I won’t use. It shows me nothing’s changed out there. I’m grateful today. Thank you for coming here. Thank you for being here. Thank you to the newcomer. Because of you, I’m here.

We have Steve A from Grass Valley.

I’m an addict named Steve. We were just talking about some time that I’ve spoken and they say, “Newcomers,” and no one stands up. I was like, “As soon as a newcomer identifies, now I know who I’m talking to.” Then I’ve got to talk to the rest of you all too. It’s the primary purpose to carry the message to the addict who still suffers. I know who is suffering. It could be you, it could be me. Maybe I need to hear what I’m saying. That’s what they taught us early on. Thank you for being here. Thank you, Frankie, for sharing. I love a simple message. This is what I do, this is the result I get. It’s like, “Why do the steps if nothing is going to happen?” I want to thank Stan who asked me, the Convention Committee. You stick around for a long time and you end up knowing a lot of people. Then every once in a while, they will just tap you and say, “We want what you’ve got. Come down here and share it.” “Really?”

Drug Recovery: Keep your mind open for a power greater than ourselves.

I’ve got a lot of time and I still get surprised. I get surprised and it’s very humbling. I’m not humbling myself, that’s humbling. When somebody says, “We want you’ve got, come on down here and share.” “Really?” Heart starts pumping right away and then you go over a couple of times in your head what you’re going to say and then you revise that, then you forget about it and then you start looking at the calendar going, “I’ve got to share at the convention in two weeks.” Starts sharing again what you’re going to say. Sometimes when I share at a convention I’ll just say, “You all could go because I’ve already shared this ten times.” It’s true. I don’t know anyone who just, “They asked me. I never thought about it again and when I got to the podium, God spoke.” I don’t know anyone like that. I’m very human.

On the topic of steps one, two, three: hope, surrender, acceptance. My mind goes, “I thought it was honesty, open-mindedness and willingness.” I heard those three in a row. Honesty is step one, we admit it. Step two, keep your mind open for a power greater than ourselves. Step three, willingness, “I’ll make a decision. I’m all in.” I’ve also heard hope, faith and trust. It seems like there’s always hope on the first step. There are two things. I was thinking about 3×5 cards. Sharing with you all my expertise or going on a computer, free association. Step one, while I have a book over here, I could put that quote in here and then just have it right here in big letters. Then share about one, two and three. What principles are in there? Two things came to me. I believe they’re in a basic text. One of them is share from the heart. The other one is the only thing we have to share is our own experience, strength and hope. That’s when I shrug my shoulders and said, “Scrap all of the prepared whatever.” Frankie was saying, “I wish I brought my book.” I’m like, “I’m glad I didn’t,” because then it wouldn’t have been like my sharing from the heart. It would have been me trying to carry a message to you and that never works for me.

With the hope, the faith and trust, when I came in it was like, “I hope I could stay clean.” I know I can because of my experience. That’s all I’ve got to go by is my own experience. The first time I try to get clean was in 1970. I got back from Vietnam and I hit the streets. I was using way before that so don’t get it twisted, “He went to Vietnam and he got hooked.” That’s not what happened. I was using and selling in the fifth grade. I got back from Vietnam and my whole neighborhood switched up. I started using on the streets street drugs and started selling and then I became my own customer, the best customer; breaking into apartments through the front door. That didn’t feel like me. I did a lot of dirt, a lot of fighting. Just being crazy and not caring on that level, it was different. I was like, “This isn’t me.” I tried to get clean. I went to the hospital, got on methadone and did that for years and years while using in between always.

Back in the days, as long as he wasn’t shooting dope, you could be smoking weed, taking pills, drinking, he was clean. Not NA clean. I’m born and raised in New York City. You didn’t hear about NA. It was like really two addicts associate, they could bust you. You don’t even have to have a record. They could just bust you. That was the law in the books. NA wasn’t popular; I’ll put it that way in the early ‘70s. I tried to get clean in 1970. My clean date is June 22, 1983. I finally got cleaned and stayed cleaned in NA. This is the thing that’s doing it. It’s still doing it for me. Nine programs from 1970 to ’83. ’83 was the last in-patient program I went to. I learned a lot of stuff in there. I came to the first NA meeting was that identification. You go through the basic text. You don’t see that word a lot: identify, identification. There was lot in there.

Personally, I don’t agree with, “Don’t tell a war story.” Please tell me a war story. Remind me. I’ve got a good forgetter. That’s why I always say the newcomer is the most important person at any meeting. We can only keep what we have by giving it away. There are no newcomers, there are all old timers, we’re just going to be talking about the old days. That’s all we’re going to do. Put a newcomer right there, all of a sudden we’re talking program, we’re talking steps, we’re talking service. I’ve got goosebumps talking about it. I go to my first meeting and I see this guy. He is talking. First of all, I used to identify myself as, “I’m Steve, I’m observing.” I didn’t know if I wanted what you had. I’m from New York, I don’t trust nobody. I hear you all taking saying the same thing at the same time like we just did the serenity prayer. That sounds cult-ish to me. That’s how they get your mind. All of a sudden they’re going to hit you with the trigger word and then you’re going to be out there selling roses with your eyes bright. I’m like, “No. You aren’t getting me in NA, Narcotics Anonymous.”

SOA 010 | Drug Recovery

Drug Recovery: The newcomer is the most important person at any meeting.

When I first heard the name Narcotics Anonymous, I’m bright. I know what narcotics are. I use them. Anonymous means, “Shhh.” I’m like, “I’m going to go to these Narcotics Anonymous meetings. They’re going to fake it because we’re going to fake it like the other program.” After the meeting, we’re going to meet up. I hope I could get clean, I knew I couldn’t based on my experience. I see this guy, he is sharing. He is cool. He’s got a nice hat. He is dressed, pants are pressed. He got slick shoes on. His hands are flying everywhere. I’m like, “I’m from New York. I could identify with that. Don’t tell me nothing.” He goes, “Then I took a big geez.” I go, “This guy shot dope like I did.” Identification. He kept it totally recovery-oriented and not said anything about using, I might not have identified. I may still be observing. That’s important and what he talked about was how he was powerless over doing that to the point of he lost all his face. He had to try to shoot himself in the head and in the neck. Tying off, he’s chocking himself. I hope I can get clean. No, I can’t. Why? Based on my experience. I’ve never been able to stay clean. You’re all telling me I could stay clean. I see this dude, he got a couple of years. He is talking like a street junkie and he is dressed, he is clean. He did talk about other places where he wasn’t looking that clean. I’m like, “Maybe.” Hope, “I hope I could stay clean, maybe.” There is the faith, “Maybe I could do it too.” There’s just that little bit of, “Maybe.” It was like welded-shut. I wasn’t open to any new ideas. I was always doing it my way.

I knew one thing when I got here. My way didn’t work because I tried. The Lord knows I tried. I did not want to not use anything no matter what. That’s one of the things that helped saved me throughout all these years. I’ve wanted to get high a lot of times. I’ve been under certain stresses where it put me to the test. Hep C treatments three times, all of them failed. I heard one speaker at a Men’s Meeting. He described the Hep C treatment, “That treatment is mean.” I’ve never heard a treatment described with a human emotion. I was like, “It is mean. It was harsh.” Don’t use, “No matter what.” I’m going to give you some of the gems that I heard that helped me stay clean. Maybe you can grab onto a couple. That was one of them. He said, “Don’t use no matter what.”

Another thing I heard was, “You don’t ever have to use one day at a time for the rest of your life,” and here’s the kicker, “even if you want to.” My mind just got blown, “Even if I want to, I don’t have to? What addict wants to use and doesn’t use?” Not me. Every single time I wanted to use, I used. I remember a friend knocking on my front door, I was just about to fix. I know it’s his knock. He isn’t going to stop. I’m standing in the door because I don’t want him to come in. He pushed me out the way and he walks in. I’m going, “Oh, man.” I’m ready. He is sitting down at the table. I’m like, “I am not offering him nothing.” Can I get you some coffee or tea or water? It’s right there. It’s waiting for me and I’m sick as a dog. I’m giving him the stare down. He is talking and this is what I came up with, “Curtis, I just want to be by myself today.” He goes, “That’s cool.” He isn’t moving. I go, “No, really.” With my hand gesture like, “You’ve got to go.” He is like, “I am not leaving.” He just started staring at me with love. He knows what I’m about to do. He knew what I was about to do. I said, “I’m going to go ahead and do my thing.” I’ve never used in front of him before. As I just started, he got up and left, head down, hurting somebody else, powerless over the disease. With that being said, we admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable. I don’t know about you but when I got here, I didn’t see right and I didn’t hear right. You say something, I thought I heard something else. I learned this later on; seek clarification. You say something and I say, “What did you say?” Selective hearing or whatever.

All I saw was we admitted we were powerless. This New York City tough street junkie, “I’m not powerless. I’ll whoop you. Don’t tell me I’m powerless,” and I got stuck talking with my sponsor. He had me breakdown each step, “Get a dictionary. Look up every word of each step. Before you even talk about principles, you need to know what you’re saying. You need to know what those words mean.” I go, “We admitted we were powerless.” “I wasn’t talking about that.” I’m going, “I’m not powerless.” He is like, “No, you’re not powerless. Steve, the step says we admitted we were powerless over our addiction.” I didn’t hear him say powerless over addiction. “I’m not powerless.” He’s like, “Steve, can you admit that you were powerless over your addiction?” Then I heard it, “Over my addiction? I’m powerless over that. It kicked my ass all the time.” Addiction, 2000; Steve, zero. I never won. We got some good eleven, twelve rounds but right at that last second, I’m out.

We were arguing about step one and step two came in to the conversation. I’m going, “But this,” and then he goes, “But that,” and I go, “But this,” and he goes, “But that.” I go, “Okay, I don’t know.” He goes, “Good. Now, you’re teachable.” Step two is open-mindedness and that little bit of faith in there. Once I took step one and I really took it like admitted. If you look in the dictionary, it says, “Allowed to enter. Street code, admitted.” That’s the only definition I knew, admit. You cap to it or you don’t ever cap to it. That’s street code. You can kill me. I’ve had guys punching on me, I wasn’t giving up. It’s bred in me. I come here, I have to do something new, something different. There’s the hope, there’s the faith, the trust.

Let me tell you another thing about faith. I saw this one guy. This guy used to share he was crazy. This dude was scrambled eggs. He was way sicker than me when I got in. I was close-minded. I had my own little, “I’m Steve. I’m observing.” I had all that stuff but at least I could talk. I had some semblance of intellect. This dude would look up in the ceiling and then he pause and he say the next word. I’m like, “You’ve got me all frustrated. Can you just talk?” He couldn’t talk. You could see his eyes looking up in his brain for the next word. He was scrambled. I keep going to meetings. I’m going to meetings every day, all day. I used to go to an 8:00 meeting. The next meeting was until noon. It will be 9:00 when the meeting is over. I’ll be helping to clean up, wash ashtrays, “Anything else I could do?” They’re waiting for me to get out there that makes me go loco. I’m like, “Anything else?” Because I’ve got nowhere to go. I didn’t trust myself in the street. I’ll sit there until noon. I would sit right where the meeting was. If the next meeting was right there, I’ll sit right there until noon. I didn’t trust myself. I saw this guy a week, two weeks later. I’m going, “He’s talking. Something in this room is working. He is way sicker than me. He is way crazier than me. He is talking after two weeks. Maybe this thing will work for me too.” I start doing step work. I start noticing changes in me. There’s the trust right there.

People are starting to love me, “We will love you until you learn how to love yourself.” That process went like I came to the meetings really timid. I used to wear glasses. Anytime I shared, I sweat. Sometimes we mess with the newcomer. At least, they messed with me. They just love like, “Let’s call Steve,” because they knew right away I’ll turn beet red. I’ll flush. I’ll start sweating. Get all the heat coming from the body. All that heat coming up and my glasses would start to fog up when I talk. I bet they got a good little kick at it watching me squirming in my feet, getting all nervous and always head down, but it worked. Little by little, I was able to share and little by little, I was able to say, “I’m going to do this.” Then you take the suggestions. Go to meetings. You get a sponsor. Why get a sponsor? I don’t understand what’s on the wall. When you first come in you read it, you go, “Yeah. Now, what do I’ve got to do? I’m intelligent. I could break down. I could do that. I’m powerless. A power greater than myself, maybe. Make a decision? That will come late. Inventory, that’s fine. Say it to somebody, that isn’t ever happening. Character defects? I’ve got a couple. Humbly ask? We’ll see. Eight-step list? I’ve got a lot of mess. That’s going to take forever. Nine-step, that’s going to really take forever.” All about inventory and praying and meditate and I’m like, “I’m a spiritual guy. I could pray and meditate.” This is when I’m brand new.

I don’t realize that all those steps are foundation so that I could stand solid or sit solid when I’m writing about this. It’s giving me power. It’s giving me strength. I didn’t even realize it. You realize it when you do it, after you do it. At least that was for me. I didn’t even realize all this stuff was going to happen. I realized it after I did it. Another thing I heard, “Trust the process.” I’ll always remember. I think his name is David P. I don’t want to say his whole name. He’s still alive. That guy was sicker than me. He couldn’t even talk. After a couple of weeks, he is talking. I’ve heard the story on this guy because I was watching the man. I was observing. I wasn’t just coming, “I’m an addict. Come on sponsor, let’s do some writing.” I was checking you all out a lot. I’m watching this guy. A couple of months go by, I find out he is doing contract work. He is in construction. A couple more months go by, he is talking about, “I think I’m going to go to school and get my contractor’s license.” “Good for you.” A couple of months go by, he goes to the meetings, announces, “I’ve got my contractor’s license. I’ve got a business.” I’m like, “This program really works.”

SOA 010 | Drug Recovery

Drug Recovery: We’ll love you until you learn how to love yourself.

I saw it in my own life. I started seeing things in my own life. We’ll love you until you learn how to love yourself. I came in feeling just like you. I’m a piece of crap. You all don’t even know what I did. I did some really, really bad stuff. People I cannot make amends to but they’re not here no more and just feeling terrible and shame and guilt. People are walking past me, “Hey, Steve,” remembering my name. I’m breaking down crying just because they said my name. I wasn’t even worth my name. Do you understand that feeling? That’s how I felt. I felt like a disease. I felt like anyone I got around is going to get infected like a cold or the flu. I really felt that way so I stayed away from people.

We’ll love you until you learn how to love yourself. They just love me. I’m like, “Why are they loving me?” What do they want? I have got nothing.” I remember one woman. She is like, “Steve, you haven’t got a dime. What do I want from you? Are you working?” “No.” “I’m working. I got a job. You aren’t working? You haven’t got a dime.” I’m trying to defend myself and no defense. Somehow I thought people wanted something from me. I have nothing to give. I remember sponsoring people and I didn’t even have a sponsor. I knew how to read and memorize that so that I look and sound good. Papa Rey, anytime he gives me a chip, he tells that story. I’m standing there like, “I’m about to get 34 years now.” He tells the same story in Berkeley, Tuesday night candlelight. He is sponsoring people. All I’m doing is I’m putting my head down and going, “Do you have to tell that story every time?” “Yeah. It’s good for me to hear it.” They love me. I don’t love them but I start trusting them.

There’s a second sentence in the “just for today.” “Just for today, I will have faith in someone in NA who believes in me and wants to help me in my recovery.” I didn’t believe in me. I hope I could stay clean. I know I can. These folks, they’re insisting, “You could do this too. Just don’t use anything no matter what. You don’t have to use even if you want to.” Quit hitting me with all these wisdom. It makes perfect simple sense and there’s no argument. You can’t argue with it. The only way to prove them wrong is to stay clean or get loaded. That’s the only way to prove what they said wrong, “You don’t have to use.” “ I did use.” “But you didn’t have to use.” “I’ve got to stay clean to prove you right.” It’s weird. They started to love me. I started trusting them. That was the thing. They got me. I started believing in them. They started trusting me. I started trusting them. They’re giving me coffee commitments and keys to doors, “Let me in first. I’m not going to steal nothing.” I’m like, “They love me. I trust them. They must see something lovable in me.” They’re just loving me all the time. It used to piss me off. They’d come up and hug me. Somebody hugs you and it just feels nasty. This is a real hug. You could feel it. That’s so uncomfortable. They don’t want nothing. They aren’t feeling my butt. They’re not lifting my wallet. There’s nothing going on but a hug. It’s clean. They’re just loving me and I’m loving them and they got nothing in exchange other than love.

That’s when I started saying, “If these people who are loving me, and I trust them, see something lovable in me and I’ve done enough inventories, I must be a lovable person.” Then people were telling me this out of their own mouths, “I love your hugs. You give the best hugs.” I’m going, “I have something to give.” If you’ve been a taker like me all my life and I’m in an opportunistic environment I was in, it was just automatic. I’d look for something. I’m getting something. The core of our disease is our self-obsession. I understand what that means. It’s me thinking of only me all the time. Now we think of you and I think of you and you. My heart is blown open. It sucks sometimes. It does. Anyone in this room whose heart is blown open, you know it sucks, “I’ve got to love that guy too? I don’t want to love him.”

If I’m doing the first three steps, we’ll just keep it here because this topic is talking about hope, surrender and acceptance. I’m surrendered. I found out through a lot of inventories. Most of my pain in my life in all aspects comes from my resistance to something, either I’m not admitting something, I’m not allowing something in, I’m pushing away. I do this today. I don’t do it physically but in here I’m closing my heart. That’s resistance right there. I lived like that. That was my life. You can’t touch me. I didn’t cry for years. I came to this program, I’m crying at everything. I’m reading Who Is An Addict? and I’m reading me and I’m crying. I can’t even finish it. They’d mess with me. They’d give me the long readings because they knew I’d be red, flushed. My hands will be shaking and I wasn’t high or detoxing. I was just scared. I call it timid. I don’t call it shy. Shy is a coy, sweet. Timid is like, “Don’t look at me.” It’s a whole bunch of fear in there. I learned that my sponsor looking in the dictionary. It wasn’t coy. It was timid. I was full of fear.

The more I did the step work, the more I found out that’s not me. That’s who I used to be and that is what I did. That is not what I do today. Today, I’m about loving only. That’s it. I love you. I could walk to every single person, look you right in the eye and say, “I love you,” and you can feel it because I’m not resisting no more, because it hurts and I don’t want to be in pain anymore. It’s selfish and I don’t want to be selfish no more. It keeps from you and I don’t want to hurt you anymore. That’s what the steps have given me, this total freedom. I surrendered to the program. I accept the program as it is. I used the word acceptance. That’s what it is. I hope I can get clean. I get hope from you. I go, “This thing works.” I surrendered to the program and then I accept what comes. I accept the program as it’s written. That’s how I do the program. I don’t do it Steve’s way although it is Steve’s way. We’ve got to do our way but we do it the NA way. We do it just like it’s written. If you’re a scientist, the steps are the formula. If you are religious, the steps are a prayer. If you are a magician, it’s just a magic trick. If you are spiritual, do the steps like they are written. Something more will be revealed. I love you all so much. Thank you so much for listening.

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