Step 3: What Grows in the Dark?

What keeps you awake at night? ________________________________________

Pause and write down the first answer that came to mind. Or not.

I’ll go first. My answer a few months ago was finances. Pennies, Nickles, Dimes–money used to really scare me. The fear of money is actually Chrometophobia, from the Greek “crimata” or money. Money from that era was (chroma) or brightly colored. I don’t care what color it is, it’s a pain and I seem to have been born with a dislike of all things financial. As a child, I cried at Christmas because I was afraid that my parents spent too much money on gifts for us kids. I’d start stressing as soon as a wrapped package appeared. I can still feel that stress over gifts. I have a money phobia that has added stress and fear to my life for over 50 years.

Does your answer correlate with a long-standing fear? When was the first time you felt worried about that topic? Can you think of other times when you were obsessed about a similar situation or person? Does this same preoccupation come to mind when you’re idle, driving, waiting in line?

So how, exactly, can the willing person continue to turn his will and his life over to the Higher Power? He made a beginning, we have seen, when he commenced to rely upon A.A. for the solution of his alcohol problem. By now, though the chances are that he has become convinced that he has more problems than alcohol, and that some of these refuse to be solved by all the sheer personal determination and courage he can muster. They simply will not budge; they make him desperately unhappy and threaten his new-found sobriety. Our friend is still victimized by remorse and guilt when he thinks of yesterday. Bitterness still overpowers him when he broods upon those he still envies or hates. His financial insecurity worries him sick, and panic takes over when he thinks of all the bridges to safety that alcohol burned behind him. And how shall he ever straighten out that awful jam that cost him the affection of his family and separated him from them? His lone courage and unaided will cannot do it. Surely he must now depend upon Somebody or Something else. ~ Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 2012, p 3

recently realized that I needed to go back to the first Steps, and with finances in mind, take another look at the principles. You can do this with your preoccupation. We can dance around the general principles of the program all day and at the end, we’re pleasantly stimulated, but no smarter, if we haven’t found a personal application. Finding the answer to the question of preoccupation is useful because it gives you something substantial to plug into the first three Steps.

Fill in the blank with that person or problem that keeps you awake.

  1. I admit I’m powerless over ________ (person or problem) –that my thought life has become unmanageable.
  2. I believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity (peace and serenity).
  3. I am now making a decision to turn my will (my thinking) and my life (my actions) over to the care (direction) of God, and stop trying to handle this myself, because I can’t.


PS: This is a ‘we’ program. If you want to share a preoccupation that used to haunt you, it might encourage someone else to give this a try.