I had put so much energy and worry into taking steps four & five that I found myself oddly unaware of how one “took” steps six and seven.
I saw them as some sort of mysterious “way station” between the traumatic 4 & 5 and the impossible 8 & 9.
Four and five seemed to require so much effort to overcome my resistance and dredge up things that had been behind so much of what I hated about myself.
This was like downshifting back into a contemplative, interior place.
I found it a little disconcerting, since I had no preconceived notions of how to do it, so my instincts, such as they were, were to doubt that I could do it at all.
It was suggested that I break Step Six it down into its component parts, so I did.
It starts out with “Were”. It didn’t say I needed to muster readiness, it implied that I had already been granted whatever I needed for step six, just from having taken steps 4 and 5 with the proper intention and attitude.
Next: “entirely” – definitely a scary word. Kind of like being “entirely” abstinent.
No room to tap dance. No alternative to acting like a grown-up. This was the crux of it for me.
I had to make the leap from theoretical into practical application of this information.
I had to face the fact that for so much of my life, I wanted to foist my personal responsibility for my emotional maturity on someone or something else. It seemed daunting, if not impossible.
I ended up approaching it like a lot of other “absolute” statements in OA – give it my best shot, and settle for whatever happens.
That brought me to “ready”: The dictionary said “Completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action” - “Well-equipped” – “quick in perceiving or comprehending” - “in such a condition as to be imminent”. (If they said so)
Finally, the big kahuna word… “all” …not some, not our least favorite defects, all.
That meant it required me to gain a measure of awareness of just how attached to them I was, how they affected me, and what they were costing me.
This harkens back to why knowing “the exact nature of our wrongs”, vs. the wrongs themselves was so important in the previous step.
What made this all a little easier was being told that was that I was not responsible for eradicating my defects, or overcoming them through will power or steely determination. I couldn’t wish or will them away through knowledge alone.
I could not “get good”.
What ended up happening was that situations came up where I had often acted badly, and despite knowing that it was a defect and that it caused me problems, I was unable to act differently. Not every time, but enough of the time that I had that familiar feeling of being out of control in a way that made me feel disappointed or ashamed for having done so – just like the food.
I needed to hit a bottom with these defects just as I had to hit bottom with my compulsive eating. And if I gave them over to my Higher Power, He would do for me with the defect what He had done for me with the food.
To the extent that I understood how much pain the defects were causing me.. to just that extent would I be able to become ready to have them removed. Partially aware, partially ready. More aware, more ready.
If you wrote in your fourth step about patterns of behavior that reduced the number of meaningful relationships you might have had in your life. If your fears and shame over your past has contributed to difficulty dealing with intimacy, THIS is where you begin to do something about it.
Being conscious of the damage these defects cause, and wanting a better life, are the preconditions for becoming entirely ready to our HP change us where we could not change ourselves.
Instead of unthinkingly, and inappropriately overreacting to life, we could allow life to come to us and meet it with grace. Instead of the familiarity of chaos, we could choose order; peace instead of conflict. Optimism vs. negativity.
If we approach this step properly, we will be given the ability to see our errant behavior coming from a distance – and have the time to elicit the help of our Higher Power to save us from our old habits. Our defects will have outlived their usefulness. We will be able to break the chain.
But this is just the “get ready, get set” step. “Go” is in Step seven is where we formally (and humbly) ask God to remove our shortcomings.
Our awareness of our defects, the realization that we are not unlike most other people (which we learned as we took step five), and the growing acceptance of ourselves just as we are, ultimately leads us to a place of readiness, where we can humbly beseech our Higher Power to take us closer to being part of the living stream that this recovery process offers us.
Assignment: Read step six in the OA 12+12. Review your most troublesome defects.
Ask yourself “What are they still giving me?” “What are they costing me?”
Several times this week, find yourself a quiet meditative place, and imagine how your life would be different if your most glaring character defects were to be substantially removed. What sort of ripple effect would it have on you and on your relationships with others?
As usual – here is your weekly multiple choice question, the answer to which I’d like you all to include in your posting.
1) I have made an effort to work the tools this week, but I could do much better.
2) I’m working the tools each day. It’s a regular part of my program and my abstinence.
3) I really have difficulty finding time to work the tools, but I’m cleanly abstinent.
4) I really have difficulty finding time to work the tools and I cannot stay/get abstinent.
The Twelve Steps