Sunday, August 2, 2009

Step Six.

"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

What does it mean for me, to be "entirely ready?"

First, I need awareness of my character defects, and I gained this through doing a 4th Step, and then paying careful attention to my internal dialogue, both in times of tranquillity, and in moments of exasperation.

A program friend uses the phrase: "the stories that we tell ourselves" to describe the way our character defects affect our thinking. When I'm agitated, what story am I telling myself? Does it cast me as victim and the other person as villain? How feasible is this, and how much more probable, that we each have a part in the troubles, but that I'd rather believe myself blameless, as that requires no effort or action on my part?

I must be willing to give up whatever gratification my character defects have allowed me, for a new approach to dealing with life, and new compensations.
I must be willing to hold up a hand to my ego, as it stands at the forefront of my mind exhorting and defending, and detach from my feelings, to view my choices with as much objectivity as I can muster. If I can't muster any, or very little, and my ego is still bellowing and ranting, then I need to pick up the phone and call a program friend to reason things out.

I tell my sponsees, "If the program friend you call does nothing but agree with your viewpoint, then you need to find another person to call at those times, because it may be satisfying to hear it, but that agreement only strengthens your misery by reinforcing your defenses."

When we are new to 12-Step, and we try to deal with our egos on our own, it's like going up against a sumo wrestler, after we've done nothing to prepare but a week of stretching exercises - no contest. Splat. Ding. Belt goes to the big guy in the thong.

I'm entirely ready when I'm frustrated at my own craziness, when my obsessive mind is chewing the same ground endlessly, smoke pouring from the machinery, rattling and shaking, parts flying off and nearly taking the dog's head off as they go zinging into the stratosphere, when I just cannot do it on my own.

I'm ready when I'm on my knees, unable to rise, completely exhausted and beaten down, not by the alcoholics or by life, but by my own habitual responses - my character defects.

Then, and only then, in my case, (obduracy being one of my character defects, which I have in abundance) was I able to consider choosing to try an alternate way of dealing with my life.

I was entirely ready. I had hoped this would be a permanent state, but in all honesty, I'd have to call it semi-permanent, because if I'm in HALT, I'm more likely to revert to old habits. But now I can catch myself doing so, forgive myself, and change my attitude.

From the ODAT, page 172:

"If am truly willing, I will see them replaced gradually by impulses of a different quality, that I can live with, comfortably free from self-reproach."

Isn't that a beautiful concept? Living "...comfortably free from self-reproach." I want that. That sounds like ... serenity.

1 comment:

  1. Good points. I also need to remember that when I am entirely miserable, then I am more receptive to surrender and letting go.