Most addicts and alcoholics have been running from responsibility for years. For many, this behavior was reinforced by family members and loved ones enabling them. With sobriety comes responsibility: for your feelings, your actions, and your own recovery.
How can taking responsibility affect your recovery?
Working Step Four will help you take responsibility for who you’ve been, who you are, and who you’d like to be in the future. In short, it asks you to take stock of your personality traits and examine them honestly and fearlessly so you can be rid of the shame, guilt, and remorse that have been blocking you from being your best self, personally and spiritually. Taking responsibility will also help you stop blaming others and start looking inward to take responsibility for your life.
Page 64 of the Big Book says,
Though our decision [Step Three] was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in our- selves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symp- tom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.
Taking responsibility may cause you to relive some awkward, hurtful moments in your life. If you were the victim of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, of course you can’t be held responsible for those acts. But you’ll still need to work hard to let go of the pain and resentment. Even a justifiable resentment can slowly kill you. Look at how you may have damaged yourself in response to that abuse. Talk to your sponsor, your counselor, or others in recovery about your feelings. Remember, working the Steps is not about others making amends or understanding, it’s about your recovery.
Don’t be afraid to seek help from others, such as your counselor, sponsor, or other recovering people. You don’t want to set yourself up for a return to chemical use. Stay connected with your support system. Talking to others can provide helpful feedback. You may have distorted images of yourself or fail to identify both positive and negative traits. Others who know you can often give accurate and much-needed insight while you are completing your inventory.
In addition to working Step Four, you can take responsibility in many other ways. Be responsible to attend Twelve Step meetings, spend time with your sponsor, and connect with your Higher Power. These are all needed to sustain an active recovery program. It’s not your sponsor’s responsibility to get you to meetings or to make you work your program. It’s yours.
You may also be struggling with the fact that people don’t yet trust the new you. Words won’t convince them that your recovery is for real, but your actions will. If you take responsibility and do what you say you’re going to do, people will begin to learn that they can trust you. Being responsible builds others’ confidence in you. People will take your recovery seriously when they see that you are serious about your commitments to them.