Phyllis here; chunkie, drunkie, junkie...clean, sober, abstinent since May 20, 1972
Sixth Step Prayer
Dear G-d, I am ready for your help in removing from me the defects of character which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself and guide me toward spiritual and mental health.
Since the magic of the Program does not include instant removal of character defects, once again we are called upon to "change" our thinking. Earlier, I said my character defects come dressed in different costumes. The are devious, sometimes child-like, sometimes major trouble makers. They have no idea what is going on and will attack with the ferocity of a pack of hungry lions. Many times, we say, "OK G-d take them". Sounds simple enough, except there is an underlying factor that they are stuck to us like appendages. We cry out and offer up the cd, but still holding tightly to the slimmest corner of the offer.
I believe there is a great fear, once more, to let them go. I will be invisible. First my food and now my character, I will be a non-person. That fear is exactly what has kept us in the disease. Not only will I not "recognize myself", I will be forgotten. I have tremendous difficulty with my character defects. There is an angel on my right shoulder, and a devil on the left. When my Program is strong, the devil shrinks, and wails through the whole thing. However, when the devil is in charge, my disease shrinks and can be destroyed. My disease will never let up. It cannot be destroyed.
Some of my character defects are what kept me alive. I used them often to keep from being punished, or abandoned, or even just for fun. The OA 12x12 explains .... "saying we are entirely ready and being entirely ready are two different things. What we really are ready for is to have the difficulties our defects cause disappear, while we hang on to them in some way." So, I promise myself that "I will never do that again", and I mean it. I want to be rid of it and the pain it has brought others and me. I think we were short-changed when it comes to coping. In the moment, it is so much easier to pick up the old behavior. I particularly like the sentence, "In honestly facing step six, we confront the fear that our defects are like threads woven into the very fabric of our being; if G-d removes them, we feel we will surely come unraveled". That reminds me how often I felt "unraveled", but would act as if everything was okay.
Enjoy our character defects, have you ever blatantly lied and watch the "unraveling" of others, saying they deserved that. Our fantasies make us feel important" so we lie just a little to build "our" confidence. How did that work out? Gossip is a killer to compulsive, obsessive, addictive people. Family was fed on gossip. Don't leave the room or they will talk about you. How do you feel when it comes right back in your face? Arguing and tantrums are very controlling. I can remember just how people got their way by shouting. I come from a family of the loudest. If you can stand up to the most angry, you then become the new leader.
So, will I be perfect, or do I have to surrender to "progress"? As in Step five, my secret is out already, written down, shared with another person and ...G-d has heard me cry out for relief of the pain". NOW! How many times do I have to go back and look at those defects? It is not going back to reading them but to be aware of them and how you slyly put them to work. I don't believe that G-d wanted me to "eat, drink, and be merry" the way it turned out. I had no boundaries. Not much effort is involved in avoiding excesses which will bring punishment anyway.
We love some of our character defects. Self righteous can be confused with separating ourselves from "the Crowd". Because I think I know what is good for me doesn't mean it will be good for everyone. When practicing the disease, I would love to tell people about the restaurants I discovered and the great food and recipes I knew. And, how about doing a good deed, but only when someone was watching. I hear others say Program is like peeling an onion. But when you do, you cry a lot! However, we will get to a point asking ourselves. "Is this doing me any good?" "Is this constructive?" The reason I have trouble with endings is because I have trouble with beginnings.
These old familar coping mechanisms are no longer worthwhile. They have lost their effectiveness and then the work starts. Recognizing a character defect in full bloom is the beginning of the process. We need to examine those character defects totally, like we did with food. And, in the same manner, trim our character defects. And, we are powerless over it.
I CAN'T, G-D CAN, I WILL LET HIM. Character defects are like little hiding places where the defect is just changing its outfit. Most of the defects mentioned and so many others that it is sometimes difficult to recognize them. That is the point to work for. It's not that the defects go away. They are still there working, to some lesser degree, and it is important to be able to recognize them. If I dust, clean, wash clothes, they still have to be done AGAIN. If it was a one shot deal, we'd be through, and eating in the old way.
Just for example, think in terms of these character defects. Self-pity, critical of others, suspicious, tense, uncontrolled emotions of any kind, withdrawal (most of us are not shy, we are scared), domineering, wasteful, etc. Look over your list and see the varieties of defects and how we allow them to grow. Again, the question to ask myself is "do I want to change?" "Am I ready to stand up and strip away that which is destroying me, my family, my friends, etc". There is no time limit set for your recovery, but I can assure you it will not take as long as your disease did.
If you remember, I said that willingness, honesty, and committment are absolutely necessary to work the steps. When I am willing, G-d does not make it difficult for me to do...anything (within reason) It's kind of like driving to a strange place. I get lost and then suddenly I find my way out...and I have not been to this place before. By the time you are reading this, we reach step 6, we are already doing this "house-cleaning", with the help of your HP. We are told that we are never alone. If G-d can help us with the food, which was a major miracle in my life, why would He not be available when I am in the midst of turmoil with my defects? My HP taught me that I am His child and he will take care of me.
Visualize yourself acting and speaking the way you wish to become.
Keep repeating to yourself in a confident way what you will not do.
Repeat positive suggestions to your self.
Try to act in the opposite way to see if you can handle it.
It is ok to say, "good work" to yourself.
Those of you who have come this far probably do not realize how much of the Program you have. It is another miracle and we are surrounded by others who are moving forward with us. You know the line about "trudging the road", I am not trudging. I am skipping long, under the guidance of my HP and living each day fully. It is important for us to keep it. We need old timers to help new comers. We need oldtimers to answer questions. If I don't know the answer, I will find someone who does. We need newcomers so that we give back what has so graciously been given to us. Then you too, can become an oldtimer. If you don't take a chance, you don't have a chance.
The secret to becoming an old timer is: Don't eat..and Don't Die !
As a PS: I would like to thank those of you who have responded. Your writing has been fantastic. You have lifted my spirit. Continue to follow your heart.
Working the Steps
The Twelve Steps