Step Six in recovery
Addiction prepared me for anything, right?!?
We were entirely ready...
Addiction and recovery are opposites...
I had learned a great deal about myself in those previous steps. I was about to learn a great deal more...
I started by talking with my sponsor and telling her, "Okay, I am ready for step six."
"What do you want removed?" she asked.
"My character defects." I said.
"What are they?" She asked.
Back to the notebook. Back to thinking about myself in a whole new way. Back to searching my heart to see if this is what I really wanted. I had to name each individual defect that I wanted removed.
Dishonesty was a duh, right? Wrong. I had saved my ass many times through dishonesty. Could I live without it? Could I tell only the truth, hiding nothing? Could I tell people that I didn't want to tell them something they asked about, rather than make something up? Could I face what would happen when I told someone that thought I like them what I really thought of them?
I called my sponsor and talked with her about it. She said, "You could do a lot of damage if you were completely honest with everyone all the time. You have to learn when to just say nothing."
Okay, lets move on to the next one and let that one simmer a while...
Fear was another duh, right? Wrong. My fear was wa-ay out of control. I was afraid of everything, it seemed. I was afraid of failure and success. I was afraid of people and being alone. I was afraid of new places and staying where I was. I was afraid of trying new things and terrified of doing the same old things I have always done.
I called my sponsor... again. I whined about all my fears. She listened to me for a few minutes and then said, "Of course you are full of fear! Why else would you try to control everything, everyone, and every place you ever came across?"
"I didn't do that!" I said.
"You keep working on your list of defects." She said.
I looked over my list and there was something there that I just could not get a handle on. I was constantly unhappy with what other people did, couldn't figure out why they could not see that my way was better.
I bet you can guess what I did! You got it. I called my sponsor. By now I was feeling pretty retarded, but I had no where else to go...
I explained what I had found and that these things did not fit into anything that I could name. She laughed.
I felt humiliated and nearly hung up on her.
"My dear, dear girl!" she laughed, "You are so much like me!"
She turned out to be a great person, I could live with being like her.
"When I did my first sixth step, I called my sponsor and told her there was no way these things could be related. They were completely different and there was no name for them. Almost identical to what you just told me. Of course, the names and places were different, but the rest is nearly the same."
"What did she tell you?" I asked.
"She said I was a controlling person and that if I didn't face that, I would use again. Possibly even die in an attempt to hide from my controlling nature."
She had never been so blunt with me before. I could not understand how she came to this conclusion, but she knew more than me.
"What did you do?" I asked.
"I wrote down control on my list of defects and hoped that she was right. I was absolutely positive that she was crazy, but I did it anyway." She said.
I wanted what she had. They said I had to do what she did to get what she got. I wrote down control on my list of defects.
I went through the rest of the list, sometimes calling my sponsor to get some help. This was not an easy process, this becoming entirely ready, and I was glad to be rid of it!
... to have God...
Addiction says "I am God", recovery says "I am not God".
"I have my list of defects. Now what?" I said.
"Now we find out about your Higher Power." She said.
"Didn't we do that already?" I asked.
"Yes, but you have learned new things about your Higher Power since then and need to put them in writing." She said.
I went home, dejected. I thought I was going to be rid of this step and move on to the next. I thought this was going to be an easy step, which would take no time and give me a magic release from my inner turmoil. I thought wrong, as I was finding out.
To describe someone, I start with how they look. I had no idea what my Higher Power looked like, so I moved on to the next step. How did my Higher Power behave? I had no idea about that, either.
I chose to make a list of the things I did know.
- more powerful than me
Pause to make corrections...
- more powerful than me
- more powerful than my addiction
Pause to make corrections...
- more powerful than me
- more powerful than my addiction?
Armed with what I believed to be true, unsure of some things I thought might be true, and discovering things I found to be untrue. I began to write. I wrote things which I had seen that proved my Higher Power was more powerful than me. I wrote about ways that I knew my HP (Higher Power) was loving, compassionate, patient, kind, and understanding. Then, I wrote about how I had come to the conclusion that my HP was not accepting. Finally, I wrote about how I hoped my HP was more powerful than my addiction and would guide me to do the right thing.
"You are one smart cookie. However, your definition of acceptance is incorrect. Acceptance means that someone can love you the way you are now while giving you the mental and emotional space required for you to make the changes you feel you need to make." She said.
"Really?" I asked, "That is what that is called?"
"Yes. That thing you have been searching for is called acceptance." She smiled, "I'm glad we could find it together."
I smiled. A genuine, heartfelt smile from days long forgotten.
"Okay. Now we know we are entirely ready. We know Who we are asking. We know what we are asking for. All that is left is figuring out how we are going to ask." She said.
"What do you mean?"
"You pray for this to happen, but, because it is your belief that matters, you have to decide how your going to pray for it." She said.
"Why can't we just pray the way we always have?" I asked.
"We could. If that is what you decide. I want you to compare four different ways of contacting a Higher Power and write about them. I want you to decide how we are going to pray for this critical need of yours."
... remove all these defects of character.
Addiction and recovery had one thing in common, neither were easy...
My sponsor and I got together. We discussed what I had come up with for praying and proceeded to pray for the removal of my listed defects. Sounds simple enough, right? I didn't have to do anything, my HP would do it all! I felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was over, as well as relief and inner strength.
My assignment was to read about step seven over the next week, when we would get together and talk about it.
I left feeling as if I had this thing licked! I could do this! There was nothing to it!
Remember the top three defects? Dishonest, fear, and control? I just wanted to make sure you remembered them...
When I got home, work called. They wanted me to take an extra shift. I didn't want to. Normally, I would have went ahead and went in. I would have been resentful and made a mess out of many working relationships because of it. I had to be honest (defect one), I had to be assertive (defect two) and I had to let whatever happened happen (defect three).
"No. I think I will pass on this one. Thank you for calling though." I said.
My knees were shaking, sweat beads covered my forehead, and my palms began to sweat. This was not going so very well. This was hard! What happened to my HP doing it all?
"Why? You always take the extra shift."
"I don't want to come in and act like a spoiled child." I said, thinking this honesty thing might just be too hard for me to live with. I could get fired!
After they hung up, I called my sponsor and explained to her what happened.
"I see. You may not have wanted to say that." She said.
"I was thinking that, but its the truth and I didn't know what else to say." I said.
"Next time you may try, I have other things to do."
"That would be the truth, too." I said, "But it wasn't the main reason."
"They don't need your main reason, they just need an acceptable one."
So, there are things about this honesty thing I had no idea about. I had a lot to learn.
The next time I went to work, I heard a lot of comments about acting like a spoiled child. I knew that my response to working the extra shift had made the rounds. I had to let go of the control and just suffer through it. I did not confront anyone, I did not argue with anyone, I did not make excuses for what I said. I simply laughed with the rest of them and moved on. It was the most difficult thing I had done all day!
The only thing I can truly brag about during this period is that I stayed clean and continued to work the steps. I made nearly every other mistake. I must say that for every mistake I made I learned two things. How to handle it better and I could get through making that mistake.
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