Posted by: denniemj | August 19, 2012

The Perfect Step Four

A month ago I finally decided that I was in so much emotional pain that I had no choice but to buckle down and do my Step Four. I had talked about it,  thought about it, procrastinated about it for much too long. It was time to just do it! But how? I had been to step study meetings. I had read from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions  and the Big Book. I had listened to Joe & Charlie describe how to do it in brilliant detail.

Big Book

I started about making my list of people, institutions or principles with whom I was angry. And there my struggle began…

People… OK, I can make a list of people. I listed all of my family, friends, lovers, myself, God. I was just making a list. I felt no anger toward most of them that I was aware of , although I had most certainly given them cause to feel angry with me. They will be on my Step Eight list so I felt I must, therefore, include them here.

Institutions… what did that include? I was a little stumped. Until I remembered the police who picked me up to take me to the hospital. I was angry with them (at the time). The health district. The government. Organizations I’d worked for. The military for uprooting me every few years as a kid. I was on a roll. I remembered more people. Back to the first list to add more names (and categories).

Principles… I hit a wall at this point. What are principles? Are they the same as values? Connected to the seven deadly sins? I tried to come up with the perfect list for principles, ideas or beliefs. I soon had pages and pages of lists that I had found surfing the web. I compared and contrasted. I felt overwhelmed!

Finally… I met with my sponsor. I started rambling on about my quest to do the perfect Step Four. My elaborate lists. All the books and tapes and apps and journals I’d purchased to make sure I could do it just right. I confessed that I was guilty of hoarding… hoarding these tools of recovery but not actually picking one up to use it. She told me to “Keep It Simple”.

“Keep it simple” (KISS) was a phrase that Dr. Bob used in the early days of AA to remind Bill Wilson that too much information was destructive for the newcomer.

What he really meant (IMO) was something alone the lines of “Let’s stay focused”.

It really is a simple program if you examine the last paragraph in the basic text (first 164 pages):

“Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you – until then.”

via “Keep it simple: What does it mean to you? – SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information.

I started to really see some of my defects. Procrastination and perfectionism to name but two. Hmmm… maybe there’s a 12 step group for procrastinators. I should look that up. There is… of course. I found 12 step meetings galore. Al-Anon, OA, CLA, PA, ABA. More to add to my hoard! I was drowning in mental & spiritual clutter and still had not progressed on my step work. I followed people who I found inspirational on Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, something started to click.

One day I came across this very simple idea in a Twitter post…

Ego... edging God out…

By trying to do the perfect Step Four, I had left out the most important part of the process… God… my Higher Power.

I’m going back to basics. “Easy Does It”. “First Things First”.

Easy Does It, First Things First medallion

I’ll start by looking at my relationship with the one person I don’t feel comfortable being in the same space as… the father of my children… my (hopefully soon to be) ex-husband.

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Posted by: denniemj | August 16, 2012

My second year of sobriety

I had my last drink of alcohol on August 17, 2011. Tomorrow I will be one year sober. This is not the first time.

I first stopped drinking in July of 2008. I didn’t really want to be sober. I was resentful of my alcoholic husband who continued drinking. I was unhappy in my marriage. I wanted out. I was hopeless and depressed. On my one year anniversary I attempted suicide. I was dry, but I was far from sober. What a difference this last year!

During this second year of sobriety I have wanted to stay sober. I want to recover. I have had moments of absolute joy. I have had moments of great pain. I have come to understand the concept of “This too shall pass”.

If I feel that urge to drink coming up, as it does from time to time, I talk about it. I call my sponsor. I get to a meeting. I get down on my knees. I act as if my life depends upon it, because it does. As long as I don’t drink, I will eventually create the life I want for myself. To drink is to slip back into depression and I don’t know that I have what it takes to recover from those depths again.

God willing, at this time next year I will be celebrating two years of continous sobriety and happy recovery.

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