Step Study - Step 1

Old 01-28-2008, 06:11 PM
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Step Study - Step 1

Weíve done this before, but we always lose our step studies in the crashes. I think itís a good time for us to begin another step study here in the Friends and Family forum. Much of the information I will post here comes from the book Paths to Recovery: Al Anonís Steps, Traditions and Concepts.Each step will have its own thread. That way people can continue to come in, read the information and share his or her experience, strength and hope as it pertains to that step.

Each of us works the steps in our time, and in our own manner. Most often, step work is done by those who attend face-to-face meetings and have a sponsor. That doesnít mean that you MUST, itís just a suggestion. Please donít feel as though you must rush thru these stepsÖ it took me a few years in the program before I began, and I found myself stuck on at least one of the steps for a year or more. The questions and postings here will be an outline, a framework from which you can begin your journey. If nothing else, the questions will provoke some thought and self-reflection, and some great discussions and dialogue.

Others who have worked the steps before will find that they wish to do the steps again. I know many people who work one step per month every year Ė 12 steps for 12 months. The more you learn about yourself, the more you know, and the more you wish to learn!

This is the suggested opening that is read at most Al Anon meetings
We welcome you to this Al-Anon Family Group Meeting, and hope you will find in this fellowship the help and friendship we have been privileged to enjoy.

We who live, or have lived, with the problem of alcoholism understand as perhaps few others can.

We, too, were lonely and frustrated but in Al-Anon we discover that no situation is really hopeless and that it is possible for us to find contentment and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.

We urge you to try our program. It has helped many of us find solutions that lead to serenity. So much depends on our own attitudes, and as we learn to place our problem in its true perspective, we find it loses its power to dominate our thoughts and our lives.

The family situation is bound to improve as we apply the Al-Anon ideas. Without such spiritual help living with an alcoholic is too much for most of us.
Our thinking becomes distorted by trying to force solutions, and we become irritable and unreasonable without knowing it.

The Al-Anon program is based on the suggested Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which we try, little by little, one day at a time, to apply to our lives along with our slogans and the Serenity Prayer.

The loving interchange of help among members and daily reading of Al-Anon literature thus make us ready to receive the priceless gift of serenity.

Al-Anon is an anonymous fellowship. Everything that is said here, in the group meeting and member-to-member, must be held in confidence. Only in this way can we feel free to say what is on our minds and in our hearts,for this is how we help one another in Al-Anon. The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. We believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.

Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization or institution; does not engage in any controversy, neither endorses or opposes any cause. There are no dues for membership. Al Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions.
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:12 PM
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Al Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.

Study of these steps is essential to progress in the Al Anon program. The principles they embody are universal, applicable to everyone, whatever his personal creed. In Al anon, we strive for an ever-deeper understanding of these steps, and pray for the wisdom to apply them to our lives.

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God as we understood Him

Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

Step 6. Were entirely to have God remove all of these defects of character

Step 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings

Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all

Step 9. Made direct amends to such people where ever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

Step 11. Sought thru 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

Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:12 PM
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Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ~ that our lives had become unmanageable.

Do I accept that I cannot control another person’s drinking? Another person’s behavior?

How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?

Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker?

How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?

What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met?

How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want? How do I respond?

What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?

How can I let go of others’ problems instead of trying to solve them?

Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one?

In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people?

In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone else’s behavior?

What brought me to Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?

Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.

How do I know when my life is unmanageable?

How have I sought approval and affirmation from others?

Do I say “yes” when I want to say “no”? What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this?

Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself?
How do I feel when life is going smoothly? Do I continually anticipate problems? Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?

How well do I take care of myself?

How do I feel when I am alone?

What is the difference between pity and love?

Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them? How have I tried to fix them?

Do I trust my own feelings? Do I know what they are?
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:02 PM
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Thanks Cats for starting this.
I love a step study!

It took me a long time to admit to myself, or anyone else that I was powerless.
Only after I found out my youngest son, was also an addict, along with his brother, did my world finally fall apart, and then and there, I realized, I was on the verge of crazy and needed help...for me.

So began Alanon, and my first step.

I admitted I was powerless over addiction ~ that my live had become unmanageable.

Amazing what step one can accomplish.
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Old 01-28-2008, 09:25 PM
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I'm grateful that you've started this too, Cat's.
I find myself flitting from one step to another, not getting
the full benefit that it offers. Only trying to get past it.
This time, God willing, I'm gonna work them one by one and
do it with my sister. She needs this program even moreso than
I. If you can believe that. lol
So, together, we can walk the path of recovery to serenity.
Thank you, my friend. For your time, effort, faith, and recovery.
Love ya, Cats.
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Old 01-28-2008, 09:38 PM
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OK CatsPJ's - here I go. I have A LOT to do on step one, and haven't really started as the "practical" side of my life is taking up so much time and space, but between I'm learning and growing and know this is coming - I think it's time to at least start giving all this more thought step by step, because I do think it will help me in the long run! Thanks for doing this!

I will say this, a few years ago I decided to be "powerless" about my H's issues and that I was fine with it. I found myself compassionate when appropriate and indifferent when it all went on too long (this was before I knew he was an addict). It felt good, it felt right, it felt freeing. BUT (and there it is!) when I found out about the addiction - I was floored and it set me back. I'm trying to get back to this place. I don't feel powerful or even responsible for his addiction - whew on that, but it does change the perspective a lot! I will be working on this. How does it work in these threads anyway, do we discuss what we've accomplished or what we're working on or do we just do the work "ourselves" - guess I'll see as more threads come on! Again, many thanks for helping me continue to "grow up"!
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:04 AM
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Buddhist point of view

With step one I began to see that the parts of my life that are unmanageable and the people and situations that are not mine to manage.

I use to say it is not so "it is the addict that is out of control - if I could only change him, I could manage very nicely."I tried
all kinds of things to show him how wrong he is. It's so obvious. "If only he would decide to stop using. If only I could do just that one right thing to make him stop. But none of it works, he is so stubborn" Slowly I began to see that I am powerless over the addict. All the manipulating and maneuvering has not helped. I cannot control & manage, because it is not My life I was trying to manage. I must realize where my responsibilities end. We do not like it when our well meaning relatives try to tell us how to live. Neither does our loved addict like us to tell him.
From a Buddhist point of view, letting things be allows them to become what they are, instead of what we want them to be.
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:16 AM
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Thanks for starting this thread, Cats, I know how difficult it was for me to really work what seemed like such a simple step yet I came to realize that without Step one, I could go no further.

Accepting that I was powerless over my son's addiction didn't come easy to this mom. Oh I KNEW that my life was unmanageable, but I didn't connect that to MY efforts of trying to "fix" him. I blamed it all on his addiction.

Accepting that there was nothing I could do or not do that would change him, that only he could do that for himself when he was ready, was painful. I just wanted our lives back.

I began Step One by reminding myself about 1000 times a day that I was powerless to change him, his behaviour and his addiction.

But I was consoled by the thought that if I worked as hard at fixing myself and learning to live life well, regardless of how he was living his, that my life just might become worth living again. And I began at Step One and surrounding myself with support, and I have never regretted that decision.

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Old 01-29-2008, 05:16 AM
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Cats -

This is an awesome/great idea! It wasn't until I got into the steps that my recovery finally took off. I need to be working a step at all times and I'm looking forward to participating in this.

When I first did this step I only did the first part of it....I knew that I was powerless over people/places/things. Essentially, the words alcoholic/addict are symbolic about everything in life. The alcohol/drugs and the people that used them were just a symptom. The real thing that I am powerless over is life - and life on life's terms. After years of trying to manage that I could easily accept that I was powerless. For some reason, I "forgot" to read further and acknowledge how unmanageable my life was. I thought that I just tended towards excitement, adventure, "living out loud". etc. My sponsor guided me by asking "if you were on the outside looking in, what would you see that would help you to understand how unmangeable your life is?" Wow - that is when I first began to see it more clearly - the anxiety, unhealthy practices, serial relationships with unavailable (usually due to durgs/alcohol) men, unfullfilled potential, chaos, financial irresponsibility, depression, procrastination. Aack!!! All of it. Then I began to see how I was controlling, pleasing, tolerating, denying to manage how I "wanted" people and things to be.

Today, I still accept that I am powerless but I still see the undercurrent that believes otherwise. I have to be fearless when I look at myself because I am so quick to hide behind benevilency, kindness, warmth, and pleasing. Exploring my motives is imperative. I have to ask myself "what is it I am wanting here?" I really have to look and see if I have an agenda. If I do, I am not accepting my powerlessness. When I don't do that I start finagling in all kinds of crazy directions to make what I want happen. I want my fairy tale and I really do a lot of adjusting to try and make that true.

I start over on this step all of the time. It is the foundation of it all. Begin at the beginning as they say. I finally learned that if I am having trouble with a step to return to the one below it.....that always leads me right back the beginning, to step one....the one where I admit that I am powerless and even more importantly for myself - where I admit and begin to look at how unmanageable my life is.

Once I realized that I had so much to work on it really helped to take my focus off of other people. I figured that I could work on other people ONLY if my side of the street was clean. Yeah right - that is never going to happen so the world is safe from that idea (as long as I remember that!).

That's all I've got. Thanks for reading - Donna
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Old 01-29-2008, 07:10 AM
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This is from the book How Al Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics pp 47

Al Anon does not promise that every alcoholic will get sober, or that sobriety will solve our problems or fix our relationships. We may never have the family of our dreams or win the love of those who have no love to give. But our program does offer us hope, because it is all about change. By being honest and admitting that the power we tried to wield over alcoholism was never readily available to us, we let go of the illusion that kept us imprisoned in an endless cycle of repetitious, self-defeating behavior and inevitable disappointment.


One of the things that I love about this Step is that it doesn't say I will LOSE my power over things... instead it reminds me that I never had the power in the first place!

Yesterday the temperature was almost 50 degrees here. Today the temps will fall all day until it hits ZERO this evening. I could go outside and shake my fist at the sky; I could beg and promise and plead and cry; I could throw handfuls of money up in the air... but I am powerless over the weather. And, I am just as powerless over the disease of addiction/alcoholism as I am the weather.
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Old 01-29-2008, 07:27 AM
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Now how about this....

Guess what we discussed last night at our meeting? You got it...Step One. We had a list of those very questions you posted and we all took turns picking one and discussing how that question applied to our lives.

We're starting a step study, doing a step a month. Naturally this being the first month, we did Step One. I loved it and now my HP is adding this on this board. I'm thinking He wants me to really get it!

Now regarding those questions last night at our meeting, I picked:

How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?

Answer: For as long as I can remember, I've always thought I knew what everyone needed to do. As a mother, of course I knew what my girls needed to do. As a wife, well, I always knew what Mr. Hangin' should do. Even when my girls started getting older, making decisions on their own, good ones at that, I always had to add, "Well, honey, that's good, BUT ...." Their decisions/choices were never good enough for me. I've done the same thing with Mr. Hangin'. He's a very intelligent, rational man, thinks before he acts. He doesn't see things my way all the time. HOW DARE HE! And, of course, I haven't liked that because I AM RIGHT.

Well, fast 5 years in Al Anon and guess what? I was wrong! I don't know what the path is for everyone else. As wise as I think I am, I do not have "the plan". God does. And I can see now how He can use what seems to be the worst plan for good. Pre Al Anon you would have never convinced me of that. I've realized that I have to give my loved ones, and everyone else I come in contact with, the dignity to live their life and make their decisions.

Part 2 of that question...What were the consequences? Well, my family didn't like me. Who wants to be around someone who is telling you what to do all the time? And the more I told them what they needed to do, the more they didn't want to do it.

And then there were consequences for me. I'd knock myself out, trying to "help" them live their life and they wouldn't do it. I would get angry and resentful (can't you see I'm trying to help you?). I was shooting down any chance of peace and serenity in my life.

I loved what I heard someone say one time. He said when I am trying to live someone else's life, all I am doing is wasting my life and doubling my misery. Gosh, is that not true?

When I get the idea in my head that I can change someone else, well, I just remind myself that I can do that just about as much as I can teach my dog to talk.

Thanks, Cats. Great idea on this Step thing.

Hangin' In
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Old 01-29-2008, 07:40 AM
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Think this might fit here: My boss - who can be a micro-manager at times, and completely oblivious when needed (and who I love to work for and is a good and kind person) found this the other day and has posted it all around in various places - to remind himself:

"You cannot live your life looking at yourself from somone else's point of view"
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Old 01-29-2008, 07:49 AM
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"We admitted we were powerless..."

Accepting that we cannot control other people's behavior is a huge step. We want what is best for them, don't we? Can't they see that? What we didn't understand before finding this program was that each individual is on a unique journey. What appears to us the best course to follow may not provide the lessons another person is here to learn.

And it may be dawning on us that one of our key lessons is how to give up trying to control someone else. Sometimes we believe we can control others because our goading or shaming gets them to give in and go along with our demands. However, we're really not in control. We are still powerless over them, and any time they want to make that clear, they will.

Accepting our powerlessness isn't a hopeless feeling at all, once we understand it. It offers us profound relief from the burden of responsibility for another person's life. In time this freedom will make us joyful.

Being in charge of only me today makes my day seem so much easier.

You are reading from the book: A Life of My Own by Karen Casey
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:12 PM
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Well, I had lots of experiencing working step one with myself and my own disease of addiction. but when it came to my AD's disease it was another whole process to go through (and still go through on a daily basis sometimes). It wasn't so much that I thought I could stop her from using - for pete's sake, I couldn't even find her! I did spent a lot of time ruminating over how to best try to 'force consequences'. There were many phone calls to the D.A., and the cops in two counties, but nobody really wanted to bother looking for her let alone arresting her for her warrants. If only theywould, then she would be 'forced' into treatment and get clean! I already had experience in my NA program and knew that "making people do their jobs" was a huge no-no for me. My 4th step is full of such resentments and the accompanying unacceptable behaviors that resulted on my part. I could spend my precious few hours between working and sleeping feeling pissed at the 'system' and obsess about it, (and worry about her at the same time) or I could admit I was powerless. do you know It was like torture on a daily basis choosing to let go? Once I did, though, I could then go on to step 2 and ask for help to get thru the day; well honestly, once I did I could have a day.

Many days, (whenever a new crises arises), I have to go thru a little crash couse in step one. Panic, worry, act rashly or consider acting rashly, get nowhere, get honest, admit powerlessness, seek help (that would be God and You guys), surrender, go on with day. Sometimes I get stuck in the first 4 items on this list. Sometimes I realize it faster and get moving on to 'go on with day'. I must say, this process has been greatly enhanced by this forum and all of you!! thank you, thank you, thank you.
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Old 02-02-2008, 03:05 PM
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This is from Courage to Change ODAT in Al-Anon II 1/8

I once emphatically told my family that their bickering was making our newly sober loved one nervous and this might cause her to start drinking again. I was shocked when I was told, just as emphatically, “Well, let her!” I realized that I was still trying to make everything smooth and easy for the alcoholic, because I hadn’t accepted that I was just as powerless over alcoholism in sobriety as I had been during the active years.

It was then that I truly discovered how beautifully “Letting go and letting God” could work. When I fully understood how powerless I was over the situation, I was able to trust that the alcoholic has her own Higher Power and that, together, they can work out her future. I felt like a new person because I was free of the constant need to watch over her, free to live my own life.

I care about the alcoholic in my life more than I can say. I wish her health, happiness, and sobriety, but I cannot hand these things to her. She and her Higher Power are in charge of that. I can only love her, and when I stop to think about it, that is enough.

Today’s Reminder

Today I choose to place my trust in that Higher Power, knowing that all is well.

“If we supply the willingness, God supplies the power.”

Al-Anon Family Groups
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:28 AM
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Step 1 is the hardest step for me. Even though I can intellectually admit that I don't have any power over the addict, there is a fine line between trying to help someone and trying to change them.

I am committed to the 12 steps!!

Here's the most important one :
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:34 PM
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I find it amazing that I can come back to this step time and time again and still get something out of it ~ guess my life keeps changing, and this is always part of it.
Succeeding with step 1, for me, means my sanity! How easy it is to get caught up in the insanity of trying to change someone's behavior ~ I just did it again when my D was home from college this week. Gotta step back, let go and let God. My "red flag" is when my mind is racing a mile a minute (having conversations in my head) :chatter and it can go on and on till I call on God to help it stop. I'm conversing about how I can do this or that to change my H's behavior or what might happen that would send some consequences his way...well, who died and left ME in charge!?? That's when I catch myself, these days quicker than in the past, and reel myself back in. Time to think about what's the next right thing to do for myself to keep myself out of the codie mode. :codiepolice
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:02 AM
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When I first started the steps, I just whipped right through them, bing, bang, boom...done. Now, where is that serentity everyone is talking about. Everything should be all better now right? Wrong. I actually used the steps as a means to control life around me. If I do these steps, everything is going to change. Boy, did I miss the whole meaning. It didn't change anything around me. Intelectually, I understood and agreed with each step so I didn't see or understand the idea that I needed to take each one and really study its meaning and make changes in myself. So I slowed down a little (just a little) and tried again. But I would get frustrated and upset that by the 3rd step or so, the situation around me was actually getting worse, not better, so I would start at #1 again. What I didn't realize at the time, was that I was breezing past step one with little thought to it because I agreed with it, but in reality, I never truelly let 100% of my perceived control go.

As easy as step one may appear, it's the hardest one for any codie to do. It takes an awareness of ourselves and our thoughts and our actions. A deep awareness. The kind of awareness that leaves us vulnerable and scared. We have to lower all those control walls. Walls that we've spent years building. They don't tumble down over night. It takes as much work pulling them down, as it took building them.

Step one was my first step to awareness of me. How strongly I tried to hold on to control.

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Old 04-07-2008, 11:03 AM
  # 19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Pittsburgh, Pa
Posts: 8
After years of dealing my son's addiction I never really knew that I too would have to travel the 12 steps. Thank you for the insight it's like a light bulb going off in my head.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:47 AM
  # 20 (permalink)  
Living in a Pinkful Place
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 7,545
so grateful that my HP said to Cats HP - psst - my Rita girl is struggling - can you get Cats to start a thread that will get everyone talking about all the stuff Rita needs to read right now

Wah la -

I have been really hurting over the actions of another member in recovery. I'm not even sure who it is. Someone who attends my f2f meeting - broke my anonymity. Whoever that person is shared with a different recovery group about things that are going on between my AH & I.

I am hurt, betrayed and no longer feel safe in my meeting.

BUT I am powerless of not only alcoholism, addiction - but also how this disease affects other people.

Maybe this was intentional, maybe it wasn't - It really doesn't matter. What matters is that I am letting this make my life unmanagable.

Working this situation that is in MY HEAD thru step 1 (and then thru Steps 2 & 3) I will eventually be able to allow my HP to restore me to sanity.

Now, how I will handle myself in my f2f meetings may change since my safety has been compromised - but my heart & spirit will be cared for by a power greater than me. The Steps give me that reassurance.

Thanks for Step Study

Wishing you Serenity & Joy,
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