If you are, or were, a 12-Stepper, you know that the 12-Steps of Recovery start off in a kinda “Think-ey” way. But, it’s a trap! That’s how they getcha. They ease you into it and then — BOOM. They hit you with Step 4, hard, like a cast iron skillet to the head. Working Step 4 (a rigorously honest moral inventory), things get pretty action oriented . . .
As I boarded an American Airlines flight at LaGuardia airport, I realized I had not been on an airplane since a few days after 9/11 (September 20, 2001). Now, my niece in Miami was getting married, and I was invited to be included in the wedding. There was no way I would not be there for my niece, so this New Yorker had to fly.
A common trait among alcoholics and addicts is an uncontrollable racing mind that travels from the past to the future to imagined scenarios in the blink of an eye. The mind of an alcoholic or addict can read like a stream of consciousness novel heading nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Often times, when a person finally gets sober, the noise of the mind is turned down to a tolerable level as the constant guilt and shame of the past is replaced with acceptance and spiritual principles, but that being said, the mind of someone with an addiction can still be a loud and confusing place.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experiences can benefit others. The feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
In the inventory process of our 12-Step recovery program, one of the things we do is to identify our personal resentments, also called grudges. Resentments can be thought of as re-lived anger, even though the external instigating cause is no longer present. Resentments create unpleasant feelings in us when the thoughts about the situation are brought into our consciousness. Many a relapse has happened because resentments surfaced with their pain and we reverted to fixing the unpleasant feelings with mind altering chemicals. For the recovering alcoholic, it means to drink. Other than the short term euphoric feeling, this fixes nothing. Usually it brings further difficulties, and our resentments simply lie in wait for another day.
Getting and staying sober can seem like a lot to the newcomer, and sometimes we forget about all the joys that come with it. For example, being surrounded by a group of loving and compassionate people who have been through the same feelings and experiences that we have. We are told from the very beginning of our journey to “stick with the winners” and this is what that means and why you should do it.
It’s funny that I am about to write a post on gratitude, and, if I’m keeping things real, I am feeling anything but in the current moment. I dropped a weight on my finger during this morning’s workout. At the time, I was grateful it wasn’t my writing hand; now I am realizing in this day and age I need all 10 fingers to write. An extremely frustrating customer service call five minutes ago plays in my head, with no obvious solution on the horizon.
Were entirely ready – are we ever entirely ready for anything? Do we ever stop to ponder that before we undertake something of major import, or do we just dive in headfirst?
Maybe personality is a factor but in my olden days of addiction I used to plunge headfirst in to anything I thought would bring me relief from the squirmy discomfort of the moment. I went with the “it’ll be fine, it’ll work out” attitude with little or no thought as to whether it actually would or could.
In the world of 12 steps, Step 6 is one of the shortest – 12 little words which, on first glance, seem simple. But as all steps, they are simply profound.