The 12-Step Survival Guide of Life

by Bill Brenner on June 1, 2010

For those who need a 12-Step Program, here are a few lessons from the author’s personal experiences.

Mood music for this post: “Rise Above” by Black Flag:


When you follow the 12 Steps of Recover as I do, you discover the little things in ways you never could before. Yesterday was another example.

Erin, Sean, Duncan and I went deep-sea fishing with my parents and had a wonderful afternoon. One of my favorite places to be has always been out on the ocean. That’s where my roots are. I grew up sitting at the water’s edge in search of peace that always eluded me.

Water's edge next to Gibson Park, Revere. I came here often to ponder my troubles.

As for yesterday, a lot of things were different because of my recovery. It used to be unbearable to spend time with my parents. It’s not there fault. It’s just that I could never stop walking on egg shells because I would be waiting for the critical comments that my paranoid, people-pleasing mind expected.

Now I can simply enjoy everyone’s unique personalities and suck in the moment. For someone with OCD, being able to live in the moment is absolutely huge.

Since my recovery program is essential to the life I’m now Blessed to have, I thought I’d share posts that deal specifically with the program:

How a Binge Eater in Recovery Packs for a Trip

The author’s program of recovery from addiction makes travel more interesting. Here’s how.

The Gratitude List

Some of the folks who have helped the author survive along the way.

The Healers (Adventures in Step 9)

Tripped on Step 9 many times. But I got back up. Here’s what happened next.

Forgiveness is a Bitch

Seeking and giving forgiveness is essential for someone in recovery. But it’s often seen as a green light for more abuse.

Pouring Gas on the Fire

People in recovery often go into hyper mode, making up for time wasted in the grip of addiction. Mix in some OCD and here’s what happens…

Hitting Bottom

The author didn’t hit rock bottom before he got help. He hit several bottoms.

The 12 Steps of Christmas

The author reviews the 12 Steps of Recovery and takes a personal inventory. There’s really no Christmas theme here, other than that the author found the headline catchy.

Sobriety Vs. Abstinance

Whenever I share my experiences with OCD and the related binge-eating disorder [See: The Most Uncool Addiction], there’s a word I always refrain from using if I’m outside the safe confines of my OA group: Abstinence. I don’t hate the word. But I don’t like it much, either. Nevertheless, it’s an important word in my recovery vocabulary.

The Case for Self-Deprecation

The author on why self-deprecation is a handy tool for controlling his demons.

Power of Sarcasm

The author explains why humor wrapped in sarcasm is one of his favorite coping tools — even though the edge of the knife can be too sharp at times.

Red Bull Blues

The author learns once again that when he puts one addiction down, he picks up another.

Have Fun With Your Therapist (The Shrink Stigma)

Mental-illness sufferers often avoid therapists because the stigma around these “shrinks” is as thick as that of the disease. The author is here to explain why you shouldn’t fear them.

The Angry Years

The author can’t say his temper was a direct result of OCD, depression and addictive behavior. But dealing with those things did make it go away. Mostly.

Running from Sin, Running with Scissors

The author writes an open letter to the RCIA Class of 2010 about Faith as a journey, not a destination. He warns that addiction, rage and other bad behavior won’t disappear the second water is dropped over their heads.

The Case for Multiple Personalities

The author embraces the multiple personalities in his head. Here’s why.

Insanity to Recovery in 8 Songs or Less

The author shares some videos that together make a bitchin’ soundtrack for those who wrestle with mental illness and addiction. The first four cover the darkness. The next four cover the light.

How Metal Saved Me

Heavy metal music is one of the author’s main tools of recovery.

Someone to Watch Over Me (Desk Junk)

It’s true. The junk on your desk can be a tool of recovery.

Rest Re-Defined

The author finds that he gets the most relaxation from the things he once feared the most.

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