"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or can only be accepted."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Steps 6, 7, 8 and 9

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
                Finally! An easy step. We don’t even have to do anything. After all…of course we’re ready for God to remove our imperfections…I mean they’re called defects for a reason. Well wrong again. This step sounds so easy…until you dig into it. Our defects of character aren’t just little things. They’re the ways we’ve learned how to live. They’re major lifestyle changes. The anger that we’ve been holding on to for years because the addict broke some promise. Are we HONESTLY ready to completely let that go? Every time they relapse and we worry about protecting them from the police…are we ready to stop doing that? Or a really good one…are we ready to start listening to family and professionals (my downfall as I’ve mentioned before)…because maybe they might see this from a “sane” perspective? Not quite as easy as it sounds now is it?
                Many of us spent a long time building up this tough exterior that we wouldn’t let anyone through. We’d learned to protect ourselves…by never letting ourselves get into harm’s way. We’d become masters of sarcasm and evasion. Sometimes even our own family members didn’t know how to deal with our behavior, because they didn’t know why we acted that way. I spent so much time worrying about my father, because he was my father. I couldn’t walk away and stop worrying about him. This step is all about letting all of that go. The worrying, the staying up late at night waiting for them, the shutting everyone else out. Those were some of our biggest “defects of character”. And getting rid of them was the only way to live a somewhat normal life.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
                Being ready for something and asking for something are two totally different things. Step 6 is preparing ourselves for step 7. In step 7, you have to realize your shortcomings in everyday life, and when you see it happening…you have to ask for help to make it stop. When the addict is out all night and you’re up at the kitchen table calling the local bars looking for them…you have to ask for the strength to stop obsessing. You have to ask for the strength to go to bed, and let them deal with their own problems. This takes a lot of patience, and a lot of watching for warning signs. When the anxiety and worry starts…you have to ask for help, and then help Him to help you…by removing yourself from the situation.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
                Again we go back to the things we’ve done wrong. This is really difficult for a lot of people, because we had spent so much time blaming everyone else for the things going wrong in our lives. We lost our jobs and blamed the addict, instead of considering that we lost it because we missed too many days staying home to obsess over the addict. Funny how at the time it seemed like all their fault, and now that we’d come so far in the steps…it starts to become clear that just as they are responsible for THEIR lives…we’re responsible for what happens in OURS.
                Going with that…how many times have we done something and not realized the toll it took on those around us. Had we hurt family members by shutting them out, or telling them over and over how they just “didn’t understand”. If there were children involved…had we spent too much time focusing on the addict, instead of giving them the love and attention they deserved? Or a big one…had we actually harmed our addict in any way? We’d spent so much time concentrating on how they hurt us…but had we done anything to hurt them? Not to say that we in any way “caused” their using, but had we really done everything we could to help them…instead of our version of “helping” (enabling) them?
                Then there’s the idea of judgment. How many people had we judged? The people involved with our addict…the drug dealers perhaps? We don’t know a thing about them and had probably said some horrible things. Or how about the doctors that our addict (or we) had visited that in our opinions “didn’t help”? Instead of considering that our addict (or we) didn’t want the help…we blamed the doctors and their “inability” to deal with the problem.
                Finally…we owed ourselves a huge apology. The person we’d been hardest on during all of this was ourselves. We’d blamed ourselves, been angry with ourselves, disappointed. We’d judged ourselves for not dealing well with situations we’d never thought we’d have to face. And at the end of it…we came out more bruised from our own selves…than from anyone else.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
                To even start this step…reactions have to be changed. No success will be found in the step if we continue to react to people as we always have. Instead of anger or frustration, we try to find solutions to problems, show people a little more patience and understanding. We spend more time listening to people…instead of judging them. Taking people’s opinions as just that…opinions. Instead of getting defensive and angry, we learned from our mistakes and other people’s mistakes. We helped instead of hurting. We showed love to other’s…and didn’t expect anything back in return.
                Each person we hurt would need a different reaction from us. One person may need a direct apology, while another would just want a change in behavior. And finally we needed to make direct amends to ourselves. Forgive ourselves and take a chance to relax. Not being so hard on ourselves could only lead to healing.

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