I would like to share a story with you about steps 8 & 9. When I worked Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. I had my employer on that list because I had a whole garage full of stuff that I had stolen from them–it was eating my lunch. My problem was how could I make that amends without returning the stuff I had stolen? All the tools in my garage belonged to my employer. I finally loaded up everything that belonged to them and returned it.

There’s nothing more shocking to an employer than when an employee returns about $10,000 worth of their tools that had mysteriously gone missing. They didn’t fire me and that shocked me too, but I could see the look in their eyes as they wondered if all of their other employees had 10,000 dollars worth of their tools at home too?

I continued to work the A.A. program and life continued to get better. The promises were coming true as I worked through the rest of the steps with my sponsor, but best of all, I was sober. The relationship with my family was being restored and I especially remember the first family wedding I attended and the first baptism all of which was a result of going to meetings and working the steps with my sponsor—what a miracle. Those are the things I missed when I was drinking alcohol and suddenly they were the most important things in my life. During my first year of sobriety I attended every family birthday, graduation, funeral, retirement party and all of the other family functions that I normally neglected. When I was in the South Unit they cautioned us that only about 1 out of 20 of us would stay sober and at first several of us stayed close, but after a year only two of us remained sober. My family and my sponsor’s family had a lot to do with my sobriety because they encouraged me to attend A.A. meetings.

The people I worked with at the cable company drank like me and they were shocked to discover that I was treated for alcoholism. I stayed there for another year before they eliminated my job and although, I was ticked off, as it turned out, it was the best thing that ever happened.

One of the girls I worked with at that company was spiritually sick too and when they didn’t hear from her for a while they feared suicide.

One Monday night, I went to a first-three-step meeting on Carew Street and there she was. Wow, talk about how it works. She wanted what I had and was attracted to me because I had been sober for a year–she was the first person I sponsored. When we sponsor others that’s when we begin to really understand how this thing works because although we thought we knew how to work the steps until we work them with the next person we don’t understand them. This experience has happened to me continually all throughout my sobriety and I learn as much from my sponsorees as they do from me. They learn from me how to stay sober, one-day-at-a-time and I learn about “me” from them.

My ego doesn’t allow me to see my own character flaws, but when I see a defect in them it’s in me too–if I can spot it in them, I got it too. Then I take that defect to my sponsor, admit it and inventory it. It’s not a one-way-street, valuable knowledge flows between a sponsor and sponsoree and it flows in both directions.

I have come to believe that I benefit more from the step process than they do and it matters not if they stay sober because helping them helps me and it keeps me sober. To be continued…

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer