Step 8. More willingness. Not a problem. I'm all in.
I felt good by now. Maybe because the 4th was behind me? 5th Step was over? Maybe because I was actually changing. I had surrendered myself and there was one huge difference between this day and just a seemingly few days before. I was no longer obsessed! That was it! No more obsession! What a break! I was baffled really at the thought of it all. Last week I pined for my ex-wife to come back so I could be a whole person believing my only option suicide if she refused and this week? I'm in a good mood and on my way to the Court House to file for divorce. I had seen myself and my conduct, this was so weird.
The day began as usual with asking for guidance from the Higher Power. Direct me to what you would have me be stuff. Then asking for the courage and strength to continue on with my Steps today. Not tomorrow, today. That wasn't even an issue really, the usual procrastination wasn't there. The usual making plans so I didn't have to do anything right now, me. So I could wallow in my delusion, find my security in the familiar. Nope. It was as if I had my whole life ahead of me. The selfishness and fear that had bound me my entire life was well, gone! Would it come back? Would I try to make it come back? I didn't know. I wasn't going to take any chances though, I got right into Step 8.The Big Book suggested we need more action, ok then, more action it is! It said we had a list of people we were willing to make amends to in out 4th Step. Ok, go back to the 4th. It was different now, going back and looking at myself. As if now I had the strength to see myself as I was and then come back where as before what I was like was all I knew. The bondage, the burden of self, the sick feeling of shame and guilt lingering everywhere always.. So I get out the 4th Step. It was still here on the table actually. I take a close look, a review of my 4th..
Yup..Yup..them, them, I owe that guy money, I should pay her back, humble myself to her if I can find her again. OOH...I ripped them off! I lied to him and them. DAMN! I was "nothing nice" that's for sure. I owe him money and he's dead. Wow.. Selfish little sicko I was. I OWE A LOT OF AMENDS! Ugh..my Mother, my poor Mother..20 bucks 20 bucks 20 bucks so I had my booze and drugs. Years of Ma you got 20 bucks when her days pay was not much more she'd still give it to me. How do I make that one right?
Now...I had heard that this was good for all, like my "cleaning up my mess" was for the benefit of others as well as myself. I didn't really understand at this point but did know I was being groomed to help another alcoholic. My Sponsor would drop hints. Soon or one day at a time as I begin to apply Steps 10 and 11 in my life I would be thrown to the wolves and I knew it. Early 80's. There was a huge demand for Big Book 12 Step sponsorship and I was almost ready. Like that Step 7 prayer, serve my God and fellows. I was getting healthier sure, but for a reason. I was going to serve the suffering alcoholic? Well, yeah. And, it was obvious I had shrunk my world down to limited space. I really couldn't go many places where I didn't at some point step on somebody's toes. I thought, with a history like mine? How am I going to be of service to a new guy looking for help with the Big Book 12 Steps if I'm afraid to go places around where he lives or afraid of bumping into someone I had hurt with my conduct. Even a few AA meetings were shaky. I wasn't feeling the love and had retaliated selfishly toward people there. As if sure I'll sponsor you and help you find your Spiritual path and become a free man but I'm still in my own prison. Like what..do as I say not as I do? I had to clean up my mess for more than my or the offended persons benefit. I had to clean a path of service to the new man. The guy I hadn't even met yet. Yeah, I had responsibility now. I was responsible to serve any suffering alcoholic anywhere. I was going to become the hand of AA. No more stage show, no more insides don't match my outsides, things needed to get real and it was totally up to me to make it happen.
My willingness was strong. I felt a new kind of purpose flow in. I reviewed my conduct and made a list , an amends list, an 8th Step list. A new fresh notebook.
It wasn't in the Book but I found it crucial that I write down the amends I owed next to each name. And also keep it clear. For instance I was familiar with my selfishness, my self-centeredness and such. That was the root of my problem so I focused on that. Also as I move to Step 10 and monitor my own conduct daily? This is what I generally will be looking for. So don't go into an amends with some new found philosophy of life and the human condition. Keep it simple and to the point. I was selfish dishonest self-seeking or afraid and this is the how and why of my conduct. This is the underlying truth. Describing the day and temperature is great sure but just filler really. I am there to clean up my side of the street not paint a suitable picture of the past to get me off the hook. As if great! I met with them, hummed a few bars of what I believed they wanted to hear and they like me now so, I'm ok now..NEXT.
No, it was best I write down what I was going to say and try to stick to it. It's not that difficult to make an appointment or a meeting with someone from my past I own amends to. It's just that when I am back in their presence things could go sideways. I could be dominated by them easily. Especially if I am Spiritually weak or get weak knocking on the door. You know, the final approach or point of no return. I could start winging it and find myself making things worse than they were before I went there to make my amends. I must remember, it's a God thing. I can still fall on my face. So my amends would be me, reading my amends I owe the person, asking for help as in courage and strength to be honest and humble. Tell the truth and go. Cause no harm. Got it. I am ready.
STEP 9: More willingness and facts about myself. Don't get me wrong here, this stuff is new! I wrapped up my 5th hardly a week before and now I'm actually outside in life with a whole new attitude and outlook. I should watch for fear, be careful to not get cocky. Especially in my dinner plate, my AA. Friends still shucking and jiving around the butt can and I stopped smoking. Talking about anything besides AA and I was all about AA now, all about the Big Book 12 Steps. AA guys and gals cruising for some physical comfort, a few moments of seemingly real love and support, sex, emotional freedom at the beach parking lot after the meeting? I had seen myself and my selfish sex conduct so that was over for me. I needed to pray for direction constantly so as not try to defend myself. Not give them the power as I would normally do. They make fun if me and my seriousness around the 12 Step work" Fine, go ahead and laugh. I pray to not retaliate so if the day comes and you find yourself as screwed up as I did? Maybe I can be there for you if my own house is in order. But if my extensive Big Book 12 Step work makes me an unjust overbearing frustrated dictator wallowing in self-centeredness? No matter what I did or how long I was even sober, it would go nowhere and mean nothing positive. So like it says, to thyne own self be true. Take care of myself so I can care about others.
It was clear pretty quick that I was around AA for a while continuing to be the same person I was when drinking so there was much cleaning up to do. I got right to it. Making sure to not make my new found Spiritual path the only road anyone else can travel. It's not Stepsherpa's Anonymous. I can't be so heavenly I am no earthly good. Others do what they do. Steps? No Steps.. Different formats? Whatever. Whatever works. I am Big Book 12 Steps and if you want it? If you are suffering in hopelessness and despair I will do my best to be available to show you what I have found in the Book. If you don't? That is no concern of mine.
My AA cleaned up ok, pretty good, not too many problems. I had messed up a couple of amends, apologized for stupidity rather than explaining myself but was still willing to straighten out anything I could. I went out into the world. Out of my AA comfort zone. So weird, I pray and people just show up out of my past or atleast some kind of connection that would bring me to them. Like the unbelievable day I answer an add for a washer dryer for sale and it's my daughter's house who I hadn't seen for 16 years. She was on the list and I was praying for direction around her at the time. Nobody was going to talk me out of this work at this point, that's for sure. I was convinced there was a Spiritual realm. I was convinced I had tapped into it. Life was becoming worth living. This is new. My troubles had been developing in me since I was a young boy. Now? Everything has changed for the better as if overnight I have been "reborn", "transformed". I felt Spiritually connected, strong. No longer a hybrid..
CONTINUE TO WATCH FOR SELFISHNESS AND FEAR: Step 10
When these crop up we ask God to direct our thinking, direct me to what you would have me be. Make amends if we have harmed anyone.
MORE PRAYER AND MEDITATION: Step 11
Specific and clear directions on getting up each morning. Directions on keeping Spiritually fit during the day. Directions on how to retire at night. Basically? In a nutshell? How to live "one day at a time" sober and free. How to be willing to grow in understanding and effectiveness with the Higher Spiritual Power suggested. The of God of your own understanding.
Am I ready for Step 12? Have I had a Spiritual awakening? Can I practice these AA Big Book 12 Step principles in all my affairs? Can I carry the 12 Step message of recovery to the man who suffers? Yes I believe I can. My willingness is strong. I am aware my God is doing for me what I could not do for myself. I am ready to move on.