WTS ~ WORKING THE STEPS

2009

STEP SIX
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.


Greetings to all who are still trudging the road to happy destiny! Whether we are at the front of the troop or lagging behind, or somewhere in the middle, we are still traveling together.

The meaning of step six, for me, is to experience a very deep release from the old ME!!

This step is truly one that “works” me more than I work it!!

In case you somehow didn’t get a clear picture of the old me, I am going to recap that for you today! It is not a pretty picture but it is a real one.

I was in a 20 year relapse until four years ago when I returned to OA:

  • Physically, I was binging close to 24/7 on sugar and other junk food and had regained 100 pounds. I was on 13 meds for pain, high blood pressure, etc. I could do no physical work without increasing the pain to an intolerable level.

  • Mentally, I was worried, had little or no peace, had terribly low self esteem with all the mental tapes that go with that, had so isolated myself that the only thing I was reading was fiction as well as watching fiction on TV. Fantasy was my only interest. I truly believed life was hopeless and I constantly thought about how I was just existing to the very end.

  • Emotionally, I was numb, depressed, and very sensitive so I isolated myself emotionally as well as physically, shielding myself from anything that would cause me discomfort. I felt like a “has been” and that it was far too late for that to change. Even my daughter reminded me that God still had a plan for my life, but I did not believe that.

  • Spiritually, even through the 18 month bout with the lung cancer of my mother and a year after her death, I did not pray. I felt abandoned by God and had abandoned myself. Sometimes I wondered if I even believed in a Creator anymore.


This was the personality of my inner addict, the old me. Food reigned supreme. Nothing mattered anymore. I would have told you I loved my children, but in truth I was doing a very poor job of showing them love. I had shut out everyone else in my life except immediate family.

The real me, free from my addiction with food, is so different than this.

  • Physically, 65 pounds lighter, able to do many physical things and very rarely in any pain at all!!! That is something to celebrate! Went from 13 meds down to 2-3 as needed for specific issues, low blood pressure, good cholesterol. I have not binged on sugar or junk food for four years now on August 11, 2009. The two binges I had in that four years was on “healthy food” and they lasted less than 24 hours each. God has restored me to sanity. That is the only explanation. I had been 100 pounds overweight for nearly 20 years. This is my miracle. I am happy with my journey. I still have some weight to release but very much at peace with the process.

  • Mentally, no more merry-go-round thinking. No more obsessing about “ME”! When I experience a trip down “Negativity Lane” I am very quick to make a U turn!!!!! Again, God has done for me what I could never have done for myself.

  • Emotionally is where the biggest change has come for me. I now feel. Feelings surface every single day. Some are about the immediate issues at hand, but many times they are “body memories” of feelings from such a young age that I can’t even talk about them. All I can do is feel and stay abstinent with God’s help. They always pass no matter how intense they may be. I also have a huge toolbox of tools to use to process emotions and transform them. My greatest sense of usefulness in program, other than abstinence, is helping others begin to feel feelings and learn to cope without turning to food. This is especially true if they have been through childhood abuse.

  • Spiritually I am still very much a work in progress. I experience God’s presence many different ways. I try to be open to all faiths and all spiritual experiences so that I can gain insight from others and maybe “enlarge” my spiritual life as the AA BB says. Even though I have “issues” with organized religion I don’t let that limit my spirituality. I also count my step work as my greatest spiritual adventure. To become more consistently useful to others, mature, trustworthy, level headed and kind hearted is my goal.


In the AA 12x12 it states that this step separates the men from the boys. I like to rephrase that to say it separates the adult from the child part of me. My childhood was very wacky. It is taking a lot of help to come to awareness and acceptance of how it was, what happened, and didn’t happen, and how I can move forward NOW.

Only Higher Power and Higher Power’s plan can truly restore me to sanity or any kind of normalcy. My job is to trust the plan and try to cooperate instead of resist like a two-year-old!! Or like a three-year-old, insist on doing it all by myself!!! Or even like an adolescent, try to sing the song “I did it My-y-y-y-y WAY!!”

One of the ways I visualize step six is as a bull’s-eye or if that is not familiar, a round target! In the very middle circle, which is where we are to aim, is the word LOVE. This is where we are to aim, and re-aim, continuously. In the inner circles, closest to the bull’s-eye are all the words that describe mature LOVE: patience, tolerance, kindness, forgiveness, service, gentleness, humility, community, acceptance, etc. On the outer edges of the target are my character defects: self centeredness, false pride, self seeking, fear, dishonesty, impatience, intolerance, indifference, revenge, gossip, etc.

My experience is that when I neglect to aim at that center circle, my behavior misses the mark by a huge distance. I just default to what I have always known. If I aim, and re-aim at mature love, somehow I just get a lot closer to the center of God’s will for me.

Last week I shared a 5th step with you regarding an incident at work. A coworker accused me of sexual harassment. I feel free to share this now because I have been cleared of that accusation completely. But I do want to share what that two week dilemma felt like for me in case it will help someone with step six. I experienced a lot of anger and hurt feelings as well as embarrassment and fear over this incident. The BB says we cannot afford resentment. So instead of inner “fuming” I went to an appropriate person at work and told my story. I felt so devastated, vulnerable, betrayed, and visible. The embarrassment was probably even worse than the anger and hurt though. I wish I could say that I am such a spiritual giant (HA!) that I immediately began praying for this co worker, but that is not what happened. It took a couple of days to come out of the shock and when I did I realized I was having a lot of thoughts of revenge ranging from gossip, (Doing unto him what he did to me!), to snatching him bald (although I have never physically harmed anyone), to telling him off and embarrassing him, to getting him fired.

At the same time, as I opened up to my Higher Power’s will, the thoughts came to me, “What’s more important—your short term pain or his long term welfare?” As I pondered this, I was aware of how very sick he is, and I really had no idea how sick and what he was capable of. If I went ahead and tried to “punish him” what might the consequences be? I was aware of all the issues of workplace violence, personal suicides, damage done to my car or home, a lawsuit against my employer, the list goes on and on.

I quickly decided “the way of peace and wisdom” was the right way to go.

I still do not know what the final outcome will be for the coworker. It is my understanding that he has many issues to face and they do not concern me. So I need to let go and let God and live and let live.

I am praying the “sick people” prayer from page 67 in the AA BB along with the Resentment prayer from page 552. No, I don’t “feel” loving and kind. Maybe that will come. If not then there is likely more work to do!! And life will set me up again to do the work to be free from the bondage of self. God’s not finished with me yet!!

So, what happens if I decide I do not want to change? What if I want to keep handling things my old addictive insane way?

RELAPSE.

Compulsive eating and my old childish nature go hand in hand. To recover I must be committed to spiritual growth and abstaining to the best of my ability every day, working like it all depends on me and trusting like it all depends on God and this fellowship. This is the attitude of an adult not a child.. So that is why this step is about growing up.

I cannot do this alone. I need a lot of help. One of my defects is self sufficiency and I have been encouraged to change that by practicing the opposite. Slowly I have built my very own support team as was suggested by my sponsors. What a blessing! I have more than one sponsor, my sponsees who help me far more than I ever help them, several meetings both online and in person, about 50 face-to-face members I can call or email and hundreds of you on The Recovery Group. I go to inner healing retreats, conventions, workshops, and have a therapist I love who challenges me not only emotionally and spiritually but in my program as well. And I am still looking for ways to enlarge my circle--all this from someone who had shut out all but six people in her life four years ago.

I would say I was entirely ready. But I had help to get there.

Thank you for listening to more of my story. As I carry the message, I am given another day of reprieve from this devastating illness that affects me not just physically but on every level. I am grateful.

Assignments:

AA Big Book - Review page 75 and read the first paragraph on page 76.

AA 12x12 - Read step six summary on page 6-7 of table of contents, and Step 6

OA 12x12 - Read Step six



Questions for Reflection this week:

AA Big Book

  1. Review and summarize briefly where you are with the first five steps.

  2. Review page 75 and share any further awareness you have regarding your step five experience.

  3. Since we cannot be perfectly ready, what are your reservations in letting go of the Old You? (page 76)


AA 12x12
  1. What is the best possible attitude we can have regarding this life time job?

  2. How does blaming others, controlling or manipulating others, isolating, or wanting to numb feelings affect your willingness to grow spiritually?

  3. How did your character traits once work well for you?

  4. How can self preservation help us with abstinence? Why does that not always help with character defects?


OA 12x12
  1. See page 53—it states that the reason we have trouble being entirely ready to change is that we have no idea what the other non-harming options are to deal with life. List a few of your defects and some ways to deal with some current life situations in a more positive way. Try to find more than one way. Ask others for help. Do some brainstorming! I once had a supervisor who invited feedback from staff and he stated that there is ALWAYS more than one way to do anything! That statement affected me a great deal because I was raised to believe there was the right way and the wrong way!

  2. What if we enjoy certain defects such as angry outbursts or gossip? How can we begin to see the destructiveness of these behaviors so we can let them go?

  3. List some of your more obvious defects and what the opposite character trait is.

  4. Take this same list, think of someone else who has these glaring defects, and summarize what you would tell them regarding these two issues:

    What I believe you are getting out of this defect:

    What I see this defect is doing TO you:

    The reason for approaching it this way is our defects of character are almost always clearer in someone else!! They are just like a mirror to us!

    One example – one of my coworkers is very verbally defensive. You can hardly ask her a question, no matter how innocent.

    I believe she gets “distance” and a sense of being in control by being so defensive. It helps her feel safer emotionally, a little superior and more in charge.

    But, at the same time, she has become very isolated at work and hardly anyone approaches her now so she feels alone and misunderstood.

    If I apply that to myself I can also see how I build walls for protection and to feel better about myself. To feel as if I am better than or more in charge than the other person. But then I suffer also, because I don’t experience some good friendships I could experience if I could relax and just be one among many and have a little more openness. This is not as much of a problem as it used to be but I have to watch it with certain people. I can get off on the wrong foot with someone if I am tense and overprotective.

  5. Summarize the last paragraph on page 58 and share with us how you feel about step six and your progress so far.


Hopefully, this step will mean even more deep transformation for you. It does to me. Each time I embrace change and growth I am amazed at what Higher Power and this program can do when I open up to honesty and willingness.

With further surrender to this life changing process,

Linda S.



 
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