Here are a couple of great questions for anyone in recovery, “Where are you in the 12 Steps and why are you working them?”
The responses range from all over the place to even mentioning how they are not currently working them and need to get back in ‘the program’. For those that are active in their Step-work the feedback on the second part of the above question is profoundly interesting. I think many inrecovery expect to be asked Where they are in the Steps, How is it going, What are you struggling with, Who is your sponsor, but maybe not Why are you working the Steps. “Isn’t that kind of obvious?” The 12 Steps are a profound pathway out of self and for most in recovery it is what keeps them alive. Simply put, the 12 Steps are a survival plan for countless addicts and alcoholics in long-term recovery.
Let’s talk about movies. I love movies. Not all, but most movies can completely suck me into the plot and have me laughing and/or crying in no time. For this essay, I would like to know if you have a favorite survival movie? Well do you?
Here are some of mine:
- Die Hard
- The Martian
- Hunger Games
- 127 Hours (many people are not familiar with this great movie)
What about Castaway? Maybe one of Tom Hanks’ best ever. As I share this illustration it is almost always brought up as an epic/quintessential example of a survival movie.
I mean, look at all that Hanks’ character Chuck goes through to stay alive in this movie:
- Plane crash
- Makes an unplanned attempt to paddle off the island
- Initial adjustment to life alone on an island (shelter, water, coconuts)
- Making Fire
- The tooth ache (time lapse…4 years later)
- He’s now advanced in his survival techniques
- Finds the sail
- Makes the rope
- Builds the boat
- Launches the boat
- Survives storms at sea…loses the sail
- Loses Wilson (the volleyball)
- Finally surrenders-sets the paddles adrift
- Gets found by a boat, woken by a whale and rescued.
Wow, what an amazing story of survival.
It is easy to see how Castaway can be mistaken for a survival movie but it isn’t.
Castaway is a love story.
Chuck’s love for Kelly is what kept him alive on that island.
And if your approach to recovery is only survival, if you are using the 12 Steps as a survival plan you are missing the heart of them because they are more than that. They are a love story…
A love story between you and God; a love story about the people around us that represent acceptance, wholeness, challenge and safety. A romance about a God who pursues us and woo’s us.
The 12 Steps are a love story between me and God, me and others and even about the love story between me and myself.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 4 paraphrased by me:
Locking arms with another, I am determined to seek and destroy the thoughts, beliefs and actions of my past and present that I once thought disqualified me from the love and forgiveness of my Father in Heaven. (do me a favor and read that again)
When our journey is about who we are and not about who God is…Life becomes more and more about us and less about Him. Things become more horizontal and less vertical. We begin to seek peace from creation rather than the Creator.
Will you join me today in rewriting my journey as a love story instead of a survival movie?
By Robert Shryoc
Robert Shryoc was one of the founders of a Texas treatment center in 2010.
He has worked in the field of recovery, wellness and prevention ever since.
Robert pulls from his degrees in communications, and human services
provider/substance use disorder counseling, to be an effective educator,
and advocate for wellness and recovery.