LEADER'S SHARE ~ STEP TEN|
For much of my life I could not feel my feelings. Perhaps this is
related to growing up in a home where the expression of feelings, most
particularly negative ones, was strictly forbidden. And if I expressed any
anger, I could be sure that retribution would be swift and harsh. So I
learned that feelings were dangerous, and learned to live almost entirely in
The fact is, I learned to stuff myself in order to stuff the feelings and
mask the pain that was surely there over not being able to have them, since
they are a natural part of being.
And there was more. I am actually a highly intuitive person. My
intuitions would tell me that something not good for me was going on. So
these, too, must be devalued, not trusted, since to follow up on them would
result in another episode of punishment. Instead, I used the gift to develop
hyper vigilance, so that I could avoid those fearful moments of retribution.
It is a fact that I do have a good intelligence, but it is also true that
for much of my life I was crippled by not trusting or not seeing most of what
my mind knew or felt. This is not a good way to live, and the cost of living
that way was fearful. I became an addict, and because I started so young,
food became the primary substance.
Taking any personal inventory was beyond me.
It was not until I had been in program for nearly a year that I reached
the point of being able to make my initial amends. I was so afraid, as I
mentioned last week. Living as Step Ten seems to envision was really not
possible at that time. However, I continued to work the Steps, so that
amends were at least for incidents no more than a year old! Note that this
It was in my third year that I began to be aware that some few of my
habits were beginning to change. My intuition was slowly being released, and
turned to more positive activity. I could begin to sense that something
might be amiss in a relationship, and I had by now heard it said so often
that maybe I played a role in the problem, that I was able to make an amend
for something in a rather shorter space of time. Soon it was down to days!
The thing that became my signal was the presence of resentment.
Resentment is never useful when taken by itself, but is when taken as a sign
that I need to look at something and see what's really going on. The
negatives are given to us so we can look for the positives. Gradually, more
and more of my intuition was being reprogrammed from hyper vigilance to
sensing the realities present in my relationships to others. I am certain
that I was a slow learner, even with some good therapy. And the therapy was
coming from a food addictions counselor, so the focus was on the Steps and
me. Eventually, I managed to retrain myself to use my intuition as a tool
that enabled me to see what was going on, often in the very moment of it.
Then the feelings began to arrive. That was very scary. But I soon
learned that feelings do not kill or even injure, and that they are true only
of "how I feel," and not a description of reality itself. I feel fear
because I am afraid, not because there is a creature under my bed waiting for
dark to come out. If there is something in reality that is related to the
fear, such as I feel when coming across a rattlesnake, I can take measures,
such as flight, and be safe. Most of the time, I feel feelings that are
baggage, rather than "real." So I began to learn to unload the baggage train
with more and more speed. What once took a year, now might be done almost at
The feelings, too, have become signals. First look about in reality. If
there really is a snake there (human or reptile), I may take certain actions.
But most often, I am being asked to see that something in the present
situation is an emotional parallel with something that once was a situation
of danger. It is a purple vase.
The story of the Purple Vase is that a girl who was being incested
repeatedly by her father would concentrate on a purple vase on her dresser,
and try to forget what was going on. And she was successful until one day
later in life when she entered the home of a friend and saw on the mantle an
identical purple vase, and suddenly remembered what had happened to her in
childhood. The experience was overwhelming, as might be expected.
So also, in other ways. So many of my "feelings" were responses to those
parallel situations. I had to work to know what was real. The parallel
situation might contain no danger at all to me, just remind me of dangerous
situations that once were common in my young life. The danger is, that I
respond to these feelings and therefore to the other person in the situation
in ways that are totally inappropriate. The quicker I get in reading my
emotional realities the easier it is to stay out of trouble. My wife tells
me I am really getting better at it, and she ought to know. She has put up
with me for an awful long time.
Now this is not very old stuff for me, and I have been abstinent and
working the program since April 9, 1993. So you can see that Rome was not
built in a day. But if we truly believe in progress not perfection, we will
begin, and when we fail, pick ourselves up and start over again. The
situation is not hopeless at all. The Promises of the Program are for real.
And when we reach this step, even if it is the first time, we are beginning
to realize them.
Some of you are more mature in program than I, and some are less. When
we share our stories we all help each other, because our stories are really
all we have. This step story is about raising consciousness, consciousness
of our behavior, our understandings, and our feelings. This is done by
continuing to work the Steps even when we may not be seeing a great deal of
progress. It does eventually sink in. And then we can "promptly" admit our
wrongs, and do our amends.
That's how it was for me.
How is it for you? Share with me.