Dear WTS Friends,
Step Ten is the beginning of what some call the maintenance steps, or Steps 10-12. While I understand what this means, I am uncomfortable with the idea. As an addict, it is far too easy to coast and do the minimum amount due in order to just get by. You see, I lived with insanity, unmanageability and chaos for so long, so just barely getting by is not what I desire to do. My intent when starting recovery has been to do more than survive. I intend to thrive, and so I continue to work hard at recovery, to do all that I can to stay connected to my Higher Power, fully conscious and present today. I commit to become the best me that I was intended to be before I detoured my becoming with several addictions. (Yes, several.) I have goals I want to meet, and I want to live my life the best that I can, one day at a time. I believe this is God's will for me, also, as determined in Step Three.
Since there is no graduation in Twelve Step Recovery, I prefer to think of Steps 10-12 as continuous-growth Steps. And as we learned earlier, we make progress, nor perfection. My first time thru the Steps, I was very aware that I had barely begun to recover, and I needed to continue to work diligently on recovery in order to see the Promises come true in my life. The Promises have been my goal. Now, that they are coming true in my life daily, they are why I continue to take inventory daily and when I am wrong, I promptly admit it. I continue to work the Steps to stay in that state. We do it by continuing to take inventory and to work what we learned in Steps One thru Nine.
I will never forget the first time, I began to see just a glimpse of one of the Promises begin to come true in my life, and the evolving of my attitudes to reflect it. I was so excited, and it gave me even more motivation to keep working on recovery. It was the discovery that I no longer felt ashamed of my past, and that I was begining to feel good about myself as I worked hard on letting go of defects, making amends, seeking my HP's will for me in my life. It was in fact my sponsor who began to point out to me that some of the Promises were being noticed in me. I also began to note that self pity was leaving me, and I was feeling much more postiive. I slowly began to let go of my social anxiety and could tolerate crowds. I began to think I had a purpose and I could be useful. I began to feel content and peaceful. I eventually began to live in faith and not fear. It is why I do not ever want to go back, and why I work hard to never relapse.
The Promises light the path for me with hope and motivation. In the AA BB Chapter "Into Action", 38th paragraph, Third Edition they are listed:
"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will
comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situtations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.'
If we have been thorough and honest in our work in Steps One thru Nine, we have begun a process to eliminate much of the damage of our past. We have turned over our defects to our Higher Power; now we apply continual effort to changing our old behaviors for the better. We have begun to take care of ourselves and our needs, and to clean our slates. With Step Ten, we strive to keep the slate clean in order not to slip back into self destructive patterns. We are not cured of every defect, or human imperfection, but we have tools to deal with our problems and to continue to work to improve ourselves in partnership with our Higher Power.
There are many methods to continue to take personal inventory. There are spot checks, a daily checkin and a periodic long-term check. A spot check can be used anytime throughout the day when we feel something is not right. We can take responsibility in the moment for our own part, just by acknowledging our feelings, and staying connected to our HP. We can ask ourselves if we need to do something differently, take a time-out, or another appropriate action. The more that I have worked this portion, the more I am able to take care of problems as they are small. I have found myself admitting someone was right, making an apology, or setting a boundary. I also use it when I am transferring from one activity to another activity, such as coming home from work. I am able to leave work problems at work, and be present with my loved ones with more ease. Later, I do a check-in with my sponsor, either the same day, or the next day. It clears the slate, and since I am a morning person, my best time to sort things out and meditate things thru with my HP is much clearer early in the day.
When I check in with my sponsor, I relate the highs and lows of my day, how I worked the steps in relation to the days events. I affirm the good stuff as much or more as I tell the failures. When I affirm the good stuff, I am encouraging and strengthening my good habits, as well as noting where I did well. It is a joy to relate how the changed behavior or attitudes reflect one of the Promises of the Program coming true in my life. The highs and lows are discussed, surrendered, and then let go and turned over to my Higher Power. The improvements are the milemarkers of the program, and when celebrated daily with my witness and sponsor, I am motivated to continue to live the Twelve Step Program in my life. It is my resposibility to reinforce what is good, as well as what needs work. My sponsor is a witness to that, but also one who can point out other encouraging and needed things. It is important to have the input from one who knows us well, and who can also be objective and honest.
Periodically we may want to make a more detailed inventory. A regular yearly or twice-yearly inventory shared with our sponsor can help us work on more deeply imbedded characteristics and consider new ones as we evolve spiritually. Working the Steps on WTS quarterly is also a good way to continue to grow in our recovery. It can also be done by reviewing the previous inventory and noting changes and improvements. At times we may concentrate on one area of our lives. Each time that I've worked the steps and done an inventory, I've let go of more and more baggage that held me back and burdened me. I've been able to grow in my understanding of myself and my trust in my Higher Power has deepened. One of the most wonderful things that I've begun to evolve into doing is that my list of Character Assets has grown much longer as I've come to appreciate and become comfortable with the person I am. I have come to appreciate that I am not junk as I had once thought I was.
Continuing to take inventory and admitting our mistakes and making amends to ourselves and others when appropriate keeps us humble and accepting of other people as they are. It is a relief not to feel we must always be right. Our humanness and spirituality continues to expand when we accept and forgive our own and the mistakes of others. We become more and more comfortable with who we are.
As we continue to work Step Ten on a regular basis, we will continue to turn to our Higher Power for help. We continue to treat ourselves with love and compassion. Because we have experienced the pain caused by our shortcomings, we do not want to return to them. We keep working our program as if the quality of our lives depends on it -- and it does!
In the AA BB, Third Edition, Chapter "Into Action", paragraphs 40, 41 and 42 speak of this:
"We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Love and tolerance of others is our code.
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone--even alcohol (food, COE). For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor (food, COE). If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor (food, COE) has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as if we have been placed in a position of neutrality--safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.
.......What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. "How can I best serve Thee--Thy will (not mine) be done." These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will."
For many years I wondered why I was here. Why was I alive? What purpose was I to fulfill, to carry out. When I was deep in my own self will prior to working and practicing the first steps on this pathway, my purpose in life eluded me. It was a mystery to me. How in the world could God use me, I asked? My self will attempted to put my best foot forward, to hide my defects and imperfections. I tried to exhibit perfection in my own way. It was not until I worked the Twelve Steps for a long time did I find the answer to my questions for my purpose. It was in working the Twelve Steps, and the overcoming with God's help the terrible prison that COE had kept me in and had nearly destroyed me, that the glory of my HP could be seen by other people as I began to work the steps and to change. I hardly had to think what I was going to say, the changes that began to be evident spoke far louder than any of the show of my own self will ever had. Ironically, it was the humbleness I learned as I admitted my defects and humanness and not the hypocritical pride I previously had as I attempted to portray perfection.
The AA BB gave me the answer I sought in the following excerpt written about the Tenth Step, Chapter "Into Action", paragraph 43.
"....If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense."
It was not in my own lofty self pride when I acted in my own self will that I found freedom and the purpose for my life. It was when I humbly asked my HP for assistance when I admitted I was powerless over food in Step One. Then I came to believe that a Power greater than me could restore me to sanity in Step Two. Step Three found me making a decision to turn my will and life over to that HP. It was in Steps 4 that I began to examine my past and to start to clean my spiritual house. I then learned to trust one other person when I admitted to them, myself and God the exact nature of my wrongs in Step Five. Then I began to become ready to have God remove my defects in Step 6, humbly asked God to remove them in Step Seven. I made a list of those I'd harmed in Step 8 and became willing to make amends to them all, including God and myself. I made direct amends to people I had harmed in Step Nine. I learned to forgive others and myself in the present and to live in the here and now of today in Step Ten. The longer I work Step Ten the more God-conscious I am becoming as I continue to grow spiritually through the Twelve Steps. Before my life was unmanageable, now it is manageable, and I am at peace today. I can think through my feelings in the moment, and intuitively and instinctively know how to handle situations that used to baffle me. My thinking is clear, and my consciousness of God in my life is strong and powerful. This vital sixth sense is the will of God for us to live and the Twelve Steps best help us to live in that realm, fully connected to our HP and attempting to become the best people we can become, with direction, peace and purpose.
The most precious thing about my recovery that I treasure the most, is that I never feel alone anymore. I am never separated from my HP. I am aware of this loving presence in my life, and that I am a part of this wonderful Universe, as long as I am spiritually fit. I am also aware now that my HP never left me, but I left my HP when I dove into the food to forget my pain, to escape and to avoid facing what I was feeling. The Compulsive Overeating, the addiction and obsession on food deceived me into thinking that I was all alone in this world and that I had been abandoned by my HP. Not so, and until I humbly asked for help from a Power greater than me, I could only focus on the food. Focusing on my HP and working the Twelve Steps has helped me to connect with my HP and to tap into this sixth sense. That is what recovery is all about.... the courage to change and the wisdom to know the difference brings serenity into my life. But, first I had to put the food down, then seek help, clean house, and make amends.
I love the Promises of the AA BB. I want those who struggle, who are not getting it to know, it is worth all the work, all the study, all the changes we must go thru to get them. I used to be afraid of God's will when I saw God as a Punishing Parent and vindictive and harsh. But there is a divine flow that is gentle but powerful, loving and firm, that can be trusted to get us there.
"Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us--sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them." (AA BB, Paragraph 39, "Into Action." Third Edition.)
It is worth the effort. And so are you.
Blessings in your recovery,
WTS Step Study Leader
STEP TEN ~ QUESTIONS
!. Did fear or faith rule my actions today? Briefly explain.
2. What positive traits did I display today?
3. What negative traits did I display?
4. How can I "Let go and Let God?"
5. If I was wrong did I promptly admit it? Do I need time to pray and meditate and sort out my motives? Do I need to be willing to be willing to make an appropriate, timely amend?
6. What tools of the program did I use?
7. Which Steps do I need to work in regards to the important events of the day?
8. Have I done something difficult or particularly well today? How can I appreciate myself for it?
9. What characteristics show up most often in my inventory?
10. Why do I resist having them removed?
11. How could sharing my daily Tenth Step inventory with another person, such as my sponsor, help me?
12. Is there evidence of any of the Promises coming true in my actions, habits and attitudes lately?
13. What am I grateful for today? Am I willing to consider being grateful for the difficulties and the uncomfortable lessons I am undergoing?
14. Can I see my own growth in recovery?
WTS Step Study Leader