I woke up this morning thinking about the twelve steps as they apply to Scams of the Heart. I've been working a program of recovery for almost two decades now, so it's kind of a natural extension of what I already do. Sure wish I'd thought of this when I was devastated after my own scam experience, but better late than never, huh?
To me, a program of recovery means more than just abstaining from alcohol or my other favorite -- dysfunctional relationships. It means that I've worked all of the steps in order, work with others frequently, stay in service and keep in touch with my higher power on a regular basis. I don't go to as many meetings as I used to, but when I get that edgy feeling, I do know where I belong.
Now honestly, I'm not here to push my God-concept on anyone. Having seen these steps work for literally thousands of people in the past, I've learned that they work if one is willing to do the footwork. I've seen them work for atheists as well as people who put their faith in the "spirit of the universe". Whether you call your god he, she or it, no matter. I'm using the pronoun "he" just for simplicity.
The first step of AA says "Admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had be come unmanageable". If we apply this to love scams, we get "admitted were were powerless over our feelings about the scam (and/or scammer), and that our lives had become unmanageable. I surely did not understand how I could have fallen for this darn scammer. I also didn't know how to get my life back to normal.
Some people in another group told me I had to break free completely. I get that, it's like not taking the first drink or taking my hands out of the fire. My life was definitely unmanageable -- as evidenced by the money I let go of so easily or the job I lost partly because I was so engulfed in this fake relationship. I was curled up in ball, my brain a total fog for the first week without a clue of what I was going to do next. Unmanageable, check.
Without consciously realizing it, I slowly began to trust that "a power greater than myself would restore me to sanity." In the beginning, it was an email group of other people who had been through the same thing. I began to have hope that I would also recover. That, to me, is the essence of step two. Having just had our trust shattered, it doesn't come easily at this stage. It didn't happen over night for me. My uncle once told me that if "It took you a year to get into the woods, it's probably gonna take a little while to get back out". In other words, if I was involved in the scam relationship for several months, I can't expect to heal in a couple of weeks. But I can take baby steps, and start to trust other folks who have been through the same thing.
For those who are veterans of twelve step programs, you know what comes next. Yep, its the God step or step three. Again, I'm not invested in who your God is, or how you practice your belief. My own belief is that God has many faces, many names, and that we all get just the smallest glimpse of his (or her) power. If you don't believe in the same way, that's okay. Just muster up whatever belief you have, dust it off, and be ready to do the rest of the steps. That's all.
For anyone who might want to take a stab at these first three steps, get out a note pad and a pencil (or pen). Write all about this scam experience and how you feel now. Be as angry or sad or disbelieving as you need to be. Just get it out on paper. Every little bit. If you're afraid someone else will find your thoughts, you can shred it later. Don't worry about spelling or grammar -- there's no final grade for this assignment, just relief.
Ok, that's all for now. I'll keep writing, and hope you'll come back and read some more. Good night :)