I've been a speaker at my share of Big Book 12 Step workshops since they began maybe early nineties up and down the east coast? It was fun, lots of good natured people. That's Big Book 12 Steps, not the reenactment sponsorship thing from Toronto. Some people are amazed and grateful for all the new insight they gathered in a weekend of 12 Steps, some are just happy to be doing something sober, right? There's also good Saturday night entertainment and food catering for the two or three day event. Well, I've also sat at meetings and heard the people say I'm stuck on my 8th Step and well, shouldn't this continue for my lifetime anyway? What's the hurry? I have seen many fall down here on Step 8. I thought I would look at my self here and some wrong turns I myself have made, not seeing the cliff with my arms full of Big Books.
Well? the first 7 Steps wear off without the action of Steps 8/9. This is a given. Like, WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED? I don't understand! I was doing great and then for no real reason I was crazy with resentment and wanted, no, almost drank! No different than according to the Book, the 3rd Step eventually fizzles out without a fearless and thorough moral inventory. It's the whole faith without works thing. Action, willingness. Without it I am sewing my own tailor made dream away plan of recovery? All I have really done is used my emotional Bedazzler on everything. All stop and look at my outsides sparkle. I glitter as I speak in kind words at the podium like Liberace. I offer security to the new gals with a hippy shake like Elvis in sequins.
You may as well say in this state action means I make lots of plans so I don't do anything now. I'm at Step 8 and it's all stop! Back to hoping my arrangements will stay put, waiting for my good work so far in the 12 Steps to pay off a bit. Cash the check for all my hard work. Finally living the good sober life in AA where people are no longer in my way and I swagger through my days as the center of attention. Yes, back to worshipping people for my self esteem. Really, I speak at meetings and people actually listen. They love me, they really love me.
So all argument, debate, and controversy aside, I am looking at the Big Book which contains the original 12 Steps outlined in masterly detail. The black print. I am not "the way" or even "the chosen" standard. If you can live life without the seriousness of your condition in your face everyday then good for you! Really..I myself was an extreme alcoholism case and found this Book to be my medicine. It has saved my life by making it worth living. But lets be clear, I am not everybody. If you are hopeless and want what you see in me? Just take it, it's free in the teachings of the Book Alcoholics Anonymous. If you are not hopeless, there are many successful options available for alcoholism recovery. You will only remain handicapped if you deny them.
Open to page 76 where it says: Now we need more action without which we find that "Faith without works is dead". Ok. We have a list of all the people we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. I have this. Actually in my Step 6 where it suggests I make my review? I was secure with myself, with my work to that point. I have been following the Book directions closely. My willingness will pay off in self esteem, in emotional security.
So I did have my list. It says "We made it when we took inventory" I did, my work is solid so far.. This is important! If I haven't followed the specific 4th Step directions I won't have this list, nevermind the willingness to set matters straight. I will not have the willingness, the Spiritual courage, I will not have seen myself or surrendered myself, I will not have lost sufficient egoism and fear in Step 5. Step 7 will be a nice heartfelt prayer that I keep getting help so I can safely plow on into and around the never ending bondage of my past as it oozes out from behind rocks and trees everyday.. I resort to selfishness again to support my stage presentation with my outsides appearing happy joyous and free while my insides are paranoid and disillusioned. I fall back to my own better philosophy of life and try harder. I opt for the intellectual cure over the Spiritual journey.
If the earlier Steps are weak? The willingness is just not there so I remain stalled in my work, I am still overwhelmed with fear at the thought of confronting my history honestly, my defective conduct. Why? because I still don't understand it. I have been unwilling to see it. At best I'm trying to find another way to continue in my 12 Steps without bringing my true self with me. After all, nobody likes me and neither do I. Like, as I lose ground with my lack of willingness, I become a kind of 3rd party adding more people to my stage I hope are allies. In time as I continue to fail in sobriety measuring my self esteem by the conduct or growth in others, I refuse to look at myself at all, I am unaccountable and filled with justified resentment now. Bouts of extreme self pity. I fall on my face in Step 9 as I want it to save me, I'm doing it for me and me alone. I am just as selfish with my 12 Steps as I am with anything I cannot overcome in my life., Without willingness I can't monitor my behavior in Step 10, I will refuse to be accountable. Step 11 becomes all about selfishly making my pain go away in my daily Spiritual war and Step 12 serving the man who still suffers is not working for me as I am unapproachable, The new man must come to me right? After all I am the chosen one with all the answers..I believe and try to convince others this is everyone else's fault. All those people getting in my way who aren't willing to work the/my program. I become the only copy of the Big Book I believe anyone should see. Like the Jesus freak who thinks he himself is Jesus and his ministry is to make sure everyone else is following the teachings of the Bible while he rolls his own and collects his government check.. I'm just another loud mouth Big Book Thumper with my wife at home duct taped to a chair. Negative? well, yeah. Willingness is still key. If I lose it, life can get very sick very quickly. This I know. Believe me when I tell you that humbling myself with willingness and focusing on thoroughness everyday was not my first choice.
Now, I'm not saying everybody here but most and myself included have lost their willingness to be accountable in short order without action at some point in this work. We are not Saints right? On the real side? There really is no excuse for sitting on the fence here. If I have followed the work to this point, to Step 8, the facts are in. It says I have a list so ok, lets see it. Back to the 4th to find my list, back to page 67. "THERE! bottom of the second paragraph on page 67. It reads: We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight. This new attitude is from honestly looking at my own conduct in my many many resentments. Quite a change of heart if you ask me. Then again in my 4th Step on page 70 again it says: We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can.
I didn't take a yes/ no Q/A 4th Step somebody put together in their all knowing wonder. I followed the Book, I had to, I was that sick. I saw where in each of my questionable situations I was selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and afraid. I also clearly saw where I aroused jealousy bitterness, how I hurt others, where my own self reliance failed to hold me in check as I lacked the courage and strength to face life successfully. I saw why I could not live without the drink. This was me, the real me to become the old me, this is what had to change. My defective character. I have seen myself in the Big Book 12 Steps, all 7 previous have brought me to this point. I see what needs to change, I see where I can change. I pray for willingness and courage. I put down the drink and also the mystery, I understand what I must do to maintain my daily Spiritual reprieve. To live sober I'm going to rebuild and this new me must begin with a new foundation as the old one was cracked and flawed, the never ending addition built on my guilt and shame just made a larger more spread out mess. Always a freshly painted front with the back unfinished under a blue tarp. Today in my Big Book 12 Steps I am empowered with strength in the fellowship of the Spirit. I am the same person coming or going.
The 12 Steps are not broken down to levels of importance. I am in the Big Book 12 Steps because I was fortunate to make the admission of hopelessness which is required. Had I not been able to do this then a list of assets and liabilities would be more acceptable as suggested in the 12/12 Step Book. I'm not in the 12/12 Step Book though. This is Big Book 12 Steps and suggested for low bottom cases only. This applies to me. I have surrendered. I have no problem looking at myself with an open Spiritual mind. My horrific history of blameless wives and children or my disruption of my own family dynamic, my countless failures at life. My life of untreated alcoholism. These have been documented and reviewed thoroughly. I see my terrible destructiveness and am willing to see my own part, my own defective selfishness and fear. I am willing to set my history straight where possible. I pray for courage and strength in some areas of doubt. I do have situations in my history where I still have difficulty as I can still be dominated by certain people, so I am willing to seek courage and strength to do the right thing in these situations. I do my best in my Gods time to face them and amend the past if I can. If they are not addressed then they remain circling my brain at the mile marker stealing my emotional security, waiting to land and take me over. They are unresolved issues that will never go away, I cannot surrender them and can nolonger hide them with distraction, they just come around every once in a while to haunt me. This selfishness and self centered fear overpowers all I am as I lose Spiritual ground. My illness is strong. Every once in a while when I for some reason feel selfishness becoming extreme I will prove myself a loser and failure at life. Then these memories will show themselves as proof. I'm just a drunk and a bum, it's true just look at my past, I will never change. I may as well just drink or better yet get the rope. So yes, it is paramount that I am willing to see my true self and take responsibility for my conduct of years past. My God makes this possible. The courage and strength is on the Spiritual path suggested. This path will take me to better things.
Now if I cared enough about myself to take care of myself? If I alone could muster courage and healthy self reliance? None of this effort, this extensive 12 Step work would be necessary. Maybe I wouldn't need to seek Spiritual guidance. Maybe I wouldn't need to pray for willingness. This shouldn't matter at this point for me. I have faith in my AA Big Book 12 Steps, I don't shy away from the mention of the Spiritual realm of life as I understand it. Or the courage and strength that has been given freely to me so I can face life on lifes terms. I can be a power of example today and not hide behind a selfish self centered example of power. I myself am powerless sure but with my God I am strong. I am empowered with healthy self esteem everyday.
Step 8. I am willing to humble myself. I am ready for Step 9. I am willing, I am ready in each day I live sober and as Step 9 suggests? ready to take my sober show on the road. I am willing to be accountable. Willingness is indispensable. Big Book Step 8 is all about willingness. If I am not willing? I should go back to Step 4 and find out why.