Auds here sober and abstinent one day at a time by the grace of God, these fellowships, and my own effort.
Well, here we are at week six already. I hope that you have gotten as much out of this work as I have. My abstinence is easy and my sobriety enriched. Wow, six weeks. One day at a time.
This week I am combining steps six and seven due to the fact that the Big Book combines them and I want to spend two weeks each on eleven and twelve which are two-parters.
Week seven will be on eight and nine, and week eight on step ten which leaves two weeks for eleven and twelve.
Okay, so on to step six. When I first heard of step six, my reaction was, "well, that's easy — who wouldn't want to lose all their character defects? So that's done and so is step seven." I read the seventh step prayer. "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and to my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding. Amen We have now completed step seven," pg. 76 big book of AA.
Not so fast. My sponsor said, lets spend a little time on these two steps. Well, every meeting I went to for weeks was on steps six and seven — an accidental occurrence? Hmmm. So both my Higher Power and my sponsor wanted me to think about these steps in depth. The AA 12&12 says "this is the step that separates the men from the boys" Why, I wondered. Well here are some things to ask yourself. Which character defects do you notice being sent out the front door of your heart. Which ones change clothes and you welcome them back in the back door? Hmmmm. Sometimes their reappearance is so subtle that I don't recognize them. I know this is supposed to be taken care of by step ten but lets see if we can be willing to want these life stumbling blocks erased.
Old tapes are so hard for me to erase. My denial is still coming in the back door when I think. Those little "treats" are eaten by everyone. Or I can have just one today —that isn't succumbing to overeating. hmmm. Planned meals are important. I know lots of people who have different trigger foods than I do. The problem is that I can't eat theirs and they can't eat mine. Those little treats are different for everyone and I cant eat anything that will take away my serenity. Of course when I lose my serenity I begin to criticize, etc. So "please God, take away my denial" is an everyday prayer. So is "please let me lose the 'yes buts'". I am not twiggy size and at seventy years old I have come to realize that everytime I think I am twiggy, I start looking at others with a critical eye, so I know that my weight is just where my higher power wants it to be —comfortable, healthy, and energetic. So as I have said in the seventh step prayer "please God take from me all the defects of character that keep me from being of use to you and my fellows." I need to stay humble so that I don't hurt others by seeing them as less-than. To me humility is being just another bozo on the bus. I need to stay balanced with God's help. I need to remember that the things I do to help others is a gift from God. I am the instrument of his hand, I don't think of the inspired things I do. I don't feel the need to hug someone who is hurting by chance. When I take credit for these things I often think "oh boy I surely did help that person, let me do more." Sometimes more is needed — sometimes more is not.
When I get involved in other's lives I forget that unasked for advice is always viewed as criticism. So "please God let my do the next right thing" is important here. Sometimes the answer is do nothing. Sometimes I ignore that answer and always I trip over my own feet. So a case in point: A person asked my help last week and I tried to help. I was successful beyond my wildest dreams, I became ultra-enthusiastic and tried to help more, when my additional help was politely declined I became insensitive and pushed my viewpoint after all hadn't I just solved a difficult problem — why couldn't I finish the job? Am I setting myself as that person's Higher Power. Am I taking away that person's self worth by saying "you can't figure this out but I can" hmmm. There goes humility again. So I want these character defects gone but some of these are necessary to my Higher Power to keep me right-sized.
Before we go further, let's look again at our fourth step inventory. Are we still acting on any of the defects we thought we were entirely ready to let go of?
I have given you an example of my need to stay right-sized. How do you think steps six and seven will help you stay right sized? Are you still thinking "yes, but, my parents abused me?" I was told when first in the program "if your parents did it to you at six or seven or seventeen, etc., shame on them, if you are still doing it to yourself shame on you." This one sentence allowed me to let go of so many resentments but one lasted seventeen years when I finally got rid of that one after seventeen years of sobriety and abstinence the relief was overwhelming. The black cloud that I dodged every day disappeared and I could think of all the good things that my parents did instead of the hurtful things. This forgiveness on my part was a gift to me — it made my life better. The fact that I did it for me has helped me to do it again when the defect of refusing to forgive raises itself.
So lets say the Seventh Step prayer again and look at our Fourth Step inventory and say "this I cannot give up yet", but let's not say "this I will never give up." Remember, our program promises spiritual progress not spiritual perfection.
Make up some questions for your sponsor— you DO have a sponsor, don't you? Make up some questions for me. I'll answer if I have the experience, strength and hope to do so.
Know that God loves you and so do I. As usual take what you need and leave the rest.