Hi everyone I'm rose, COE and the leader for this quarter.
When I first started working this step, it was almost impossible for me to wrap my mind around it, mainly b/c I hadn't really worked the 6th step. The 12 step rule of thumb is that if you're having problems w/ a particular step, it means you haven't really finished w/ the one before. But I didn't know that at the time. I would pray every morning, really really hard, for god to remove my defects of character. But what I was really asking was for god to make me perfect, and I was *so frustrated when that failed to happen! What happened for me in the sixth step (and was making the seventh step impossible to work) was that I had become entirely ready for god to make me perfect. But we can't humbly ask god to make us perfect. I had no understanding of humility at all.
The AA 12x12 talks about this at great length, b/c it is a very common pitfall of working this step. I had a terrible childhood, full of abuse and insanity. I knew all about humiliation, and didn't really see the difference b/w that and humility. In my early adulthood, I was full of pride and puffed myself up at every opportunity, b/c that was the only way I knew to protect myself from humiliation. Then I came into the program and had to admit that I was powerless over food. That was a humbling experience, so I was beginning to see a little bit what humility was about-I understood that HP was taking care of me, and that all I had to do was ask for guidance and do the next right thing. But then I received many gifts of the program; a new body, new friends, a whole new life, even a new job that I loved. It was clear to me that these things all happened b/c I was abstinent and working a program of recovery-but I was a little too focused on the "I" part of that and was very proud of how hard I'd worked. And I was right to be proud! What wasn't right was that I forgot that the only reason I could do all the new stuff I was doing was because I was willing to ask for and accept god's will for me. That's the foundation of humility. Here's what the 12x12 says about this;
"When we finally admitted without reservation that we are powerless over food, we are apt to breathe a great sigh of relief, saying "Well, thank God that's over! I'll never have to go through that again!" Then we learn, often to our consternation, that this is only the first milestone on the new road we are walking. Still goaded by sheer necessity, we reluctantly come to grips with those serious character flaws that made problem eaters of us in the first place, flaws which must be dealt with to prevent a retreat into compulsive eating once again. We will want to be rid of some of these defects, but in some instances this will appear to be an impossible job from which we recoil. And we cling with a passionate persistence to others which are just as disturbing to our equilibrium, b/c we still enjoy them too much. How can we possibly summon the resolution and willingness to get rid of such overwhelming compulsions and desires?" (p. 73, AA 12 Steps and 12 Traditions)
It was so hard for me to accept this! I wanted all my bad stuff to just go away, so I could concentrate on building and enjoying the wonderful gifts of the program, but every time I concentrated hard on a defect, either nothing happened or I got more focused on how often it came up. What finally helped me understand where I need to put my mind in relation to the 7th step was relapse. I hope that doesn't prove true for any of you. When I was in relapse, and trying to get out, I saw that beating myself up for being imperfect was clearly not going to help. I became willing to open myself to HP a little more. I started to *want humility, of the kind I had when I first came into program. I'd confused that with humiliation, b/c my pain at that time was so great. When I was in relapse, I actually was enjoying my life a lot. I had a little baby, a wonderful husband, my relationships were quite rich. But I found out that when my body is pregnant or nursing a baby, it is really hard to control. I just couldn't stop eating. This was new for me, the happy life but uncontrollable compulsion. This is when I really saw that in order to work the program so it actually works, you have to *want to do so. Fear and pain can drive us there, but it's not at all required. Ultimately we have to let those motivators go, simply because they don't work when life is good. The 12X12 again;
"We saw we needn't always be bludgeoned and beaten into humility. It could come quite as much from our voluntary reaching for is as it could from unremitting suffering. A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of the Seventh Step:"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcoming."" (p. 75)
So today, when I'm dealing w/ troublesome CDs, I say the seventh step prayer and ask for guidance, and then actively try and do the opposite of the CD to the best of my ability. And when certain CDs don't seem to go away, I try to reach farther into my program, use more or different tools, but I don't get riled up about it. I do the footwork to the best of my ability, and recognize that if I'm abstinent and working my program, I've done my part. More will be revealed.
thanks for letting me share
STEP SEVEN ~ QUESTIONS
If you've had the experience of finding the difference b/w humility and humiliation, tell us about it. If you're feeling confused about it, reflect on your experiences w/ these, and share.
If you have a specific method for dealing w/ character defects, and working the 7th step, please share.
In the 12X12 it says that "The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear-primarily fear that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded." (p. 76)
Share an example of self-centered fear taking over and activating your CDs, and what you did (or could do) to work the 7th step.