When I was just a few months sober, I was told about a group of people who were going to work through the 12 steps of A.A. in a six month period.
The program was called Novelco. It used the 12 steps and 12 traditions of A.A. but it was not an official or “sanctioned” part of A.A. Everyone who took part in the program was in A.A. and the group leader had to have completed a Novelco program already. These groups met weekly and were open to new people for the first couple weeks only. After that, they became a closed group, meaning that no new people could join.
I decided to join the group, and found it was a big help in working on my sobriety. We met every Sunday night. We shared stories about what we were afraid of in each step of the A.A. program, what was hard to do, what felt easy and what felt uncomfortable. We really shared our struggles, encouraged each other to grapple with how to work the step and learned from each other’s “experience, strength and hope.”
For me, it really helped to hear what was hard for others, how they handled their challenges. It encouraged me to dig deep, to struggle through each step. I knew I was not alone, that I could learn and share with other alcoholics/addicts.
There are some steps in A.A. that are particularly scary to think about or to do. Like me, many people find steps 4 and 5 or steps 8 and 9 particularly tough. In the Novelco program, we had several weeks to work on each of those hard steps. We helped each other make plans for making it through each step. We supported each other when we couldn’t follow through on a plan and had to make another. And we celebrated as we each did our best to work on that particular step of the A.A. program.
Taking part in this group of alcoholics/addicts who were determined to make progress on their program, on their sobriety, was a huge gift for me. We became friends, we shared the ups and downs, we got through the tough steps, through all the steps. I have certainly worked on and thought about all 12 steps in the A.A. program many times since those six months in the Novelco program. But I want to thank that dear group who worked the steps together with me, who helped me so greatly along my early journey to sobriety.
Whether you go through the steps of A.A. in open A.A. meetings, closed A.A. discussion groups, or other non-sanctioned programs, I strongly recommend you work the program. It has really helped me get sober, and I am so very grateful.