If repetition is the only form of permanence for us compulsive eaters, then Steps 10, 11 and 12 are the keys to "permanent" recovery.
When I was first faced with Step 10ís ongoing personal inventory, my reaction was, "Oh, come on - you mean I need to do that huge thing all the time?"
[You may be thinking I wasnít a particularly gracious sponsor-ee , but really, I was very compliant J.]
The answer to my obnoxious question was no, maybe, weíll see. Clear enough?
Hereís the thing. Although they both involve taking inventory of our lives, thereís a big difference between Step 4 and Step 10.
Step 4 is a big deal, taking a lot of time, energy, emotion and serious support from your OA team (i.e., sponsor, meetings, other OAís). It takes all that effort because most of us have to become aware of and let go of years of resentments, fears, guilts, shames, anxieties, nasty behavior, equally nasty attitudes, and so much more. If youíre like me, it is probably the first time you ever really looked at yourself without the blinders of denial and justification. If we use the business-inventory metaphor, Step 4 is the first time in years that we opened the cabinets, took out the supplies and figured out what we actually had in stock. Needless to say, itís a gigantic job. Step 4 is an in-depth look at ourselves.
Now here comes Step 10, where it is "suggested" that we continue to take personal inventory. Step 10 is a smaller process, where we make sure that we are staying up to date in awareness of and acknowledging our character defects, the nasty behaviors we might be doing, the harms we might have committed and the amends we need to make. Where this process previously took Steps 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, now weíre going to do it on such a regular basis that we can do it all in one step.
Like Step 4, there are several ways of taking the Step 10 personal inventory. The thing that they all have in common is that weíre going to check for resentments, fears, dishonesty, and self-seeking/selfishness - and then weíre going to admit when we were wrong and make any necessary amends equally promptly.
One form of Step 10 suggests that we consider our day(s). If we experienced any resentments, fears, moments of dishonesty or selfishness/self seeking, we write them down and go through the Step 4 process of figuring out who was involved, what instincts were affected and what character defects were active. Then we see if we need to make an amend and make the decision to take care of the amend as soon as possible.. Sometimes we need to run things past our sponsor, especially if weíre not sure or clear.
The idea is to keep current so that we donít have a major buildup that might threaten our abstinence and recovery.
Thanks to my sponsor, Iím a strong proponent of including the good things I did during that/those day(s). Itís not bragging; itís just to make sure that I donít get bogged down in morbid misery (which I am prone to do). This helps me acknowledge that yes, I am recovering, I am heading in the right direction, HP is indeed working in my life. In other words, "Hey - look at this - I was tempted to do xyz, and I did abc instead! Thank you, God!!"
Another form of Step 10 is the every-so-often mental inventory. If we feel troubled during the day, anxious or jolted; we do a quick mental check about resentments, fears, etc. We might write about the experience later, but most of the time weíre just able to work with our sponsor and HP at the time.
Another form of Step 10 is the serious in-depth kind of thing, something that really looks more like a fearless and searching Step 4 inventory than a shorter version. We might have something come up in our lives that we either didnít catch or were unaware of during our 4th Step, and we may have to do some seriously careful thinking about it. This happens periodically, so donít assume youíre doing something wrong if you suddenly realize that thereís this huge gap in your original inventory.
Thereís a debate that Iíve chosen to stay out of: do we only do one 4th Step, and then everything else is a 10th Step - or do we ever do another 4th Step on a bigger and unresolved issue? I donít get involved or worked up over this kind of issue. An inventory is an inventory, and if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then itís an inventory.
A quick word about "promptly admitted it." Just as we donít want resentments, guilts, fears, shames and so on to build up, neither do we want amends to go waiting. If we wait too long, then we wind up doing mental gymnastics and making rationalizations and before we know it, weíre looking at that box in the cupboard or the Ďfridge for the 3rd time that hour. Getting the amends over and done with means that we can get on with our lives.
I like to end my regularly-scheduled inventories by making a gratitude list. No, it doesnít say this anywhere in the literature either (just like making the list of the things we actually did right that day), but keeping the things Iím grateful for front and center of my mind keeps me out of potential self-pity and arrogance should I ever forget that Iím abstinent because of my Higher Power and the power of the OA 12 steps.
Step 10 is where the "permanence" of recovery begins and what helps longtimers stay abstinent for years.
STEP 10 QUESTIONS:
1. "Repetition is the only form of permanence." What do you think about this?
2. Do you do a daily or regularly scheduled 10th step? How come?
3. I make sure that I note the things I did right in my 10th steps because it keeps me out of self-pity. What do you think about this? Is this something you do or would consider doing, or not?
4. I also include a gratitude list in each 10th step. What do you think about this? Is this something you do or would consider doing, or not?
5. We OAís live highly examined lives. How does this relate to the 10th Step?