Only Three Relationships Necessary in Addiction Recovery

“I think for any relationship to be successful, there needs to be loving communication, appreciation, and understanding.” – Miranda Kerr

I had fifteen years of false starts in recovery. I couldn’t for the life of me put together more than 90 days. Too often I tried to rebound in life by fixing external things. I was convinced the right income or relationship, preferably both would make me happy and the drugs would no longer be needed. I had heard that “It’s an inside job,” plenty of times before. It wasn’t until years of being sober that a more in-depth understanding came to me. I began to look at the steps from a different angle: relationships.

The 12 steps can be viewed from multiple perspectives. But I now believe they’re all about relationships. There are only three relationships a person will ever have. Most suffering stems from getting them in the wrong order. The 12 steps reestablish proper order in relationships. Here are the three:

Self: You will all always be the main character in the movie of your life.

Others: At best, the other people in your life will always be secondary characters. Even if they are your spouse, parent, child or best friend, they will still play a co-starring role. Many will only be extras passing in the back scenes of your life.

Higher Power: No matter what your theological beliefs or lack of beliefs we all take a stance on the world itself. You can call it Good, God, Life, Creative Intelligence, Nature or whatever makes you most comfortable. Very few are so arrogant to think that they created this universe.

There is a line in the big book that states, ” When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” The proper order of healing, rebuilding, and restoration is implied in this coded sentence.



Higher Power: First, I was right-sized with a power greater than myself. Mainly that there is one, and I am not it. No religious views need to be imposed here. Addiction is a power higher than me, so I need a power greater than addiction itself. The fellowship of millions and a program of instructions is a great starting point. I entered the first three steps in a position of resistance, rebellion, defiance, and denial, and was guided in my heart to a place of surrender acceptance and obedience. Maybe the spiritual malady has not been overcome at this point, but it indeed has been overturned. I was finally in a position to listen, learn and apply some new tactics to get my life back.

Self: Truth. They promised it would set me free. The wrong map never carried any traveler to the right destination.

The process of steps four through seven helped me get right-sized about myself. My pendulum swung from feeling that I was better than others to the feeling that I was the worst of the worst. Proper inventory, sharing openly with another human being about my defects helped me gain a more realistic perspective on myself. I learned that I’m not my successes, my failures, my actions or even my thoughts. I am not more important than anyone else, But I do matter. If a hundred dollar bill does not lose its value based on what has happened to it, or what it has been used for, why would a human being? This was pointed out to me in my 5th step. I live in my own spiritual blind spot more often than not. This is why we need each other.

Others: Now, finally I was ready to go out to the world. Steps eight and nine could be considered the first “Out of the House” steps. Too often I tried to fix the outside circumstances first. Without the inward reorganization of the prior steps, I always recreate the same conditions and relationships with different names and details. The job, the girl, the friends all became a priority. I wasn’t able to build a relationship with a higher power or even with myself when I didn’t prioritize them.

When broken into the categories of these three relationships it becomes clear to see why some do better than others. There’s an order to healing. That order is reflected in the steps.

Steps 1 -3: Higher Power
Steps 4 – 9: Self
Steps 8 & 9: Others
Step 10: Self
Step 11: Higher Power
Step 12: Others

“Most good ideas are simple.” Big Book pg 60

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