Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fourth Step: Were the HP reveals I travel in grace

For those unfamiliar, the 4th Step of the 12th Steps in AA goes like this: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. It is probably the most feared step of the 12 in AA. It can be done any number of ways, but in essence, one makes an inventory of all the people you resent or have wronged and why you feel the way you do. Then you review it with your sponsor and look for patterns in your behavior that contribute to your resentment. It's about discovering and owning your part in your relationships and finding new ways of doing things.  The first time through it was where I learned "if you are pointing the finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you".

When my sponsor finally released me to work on step 4 in March, after ten months on steps 1-3*, we agreed that I would focus on my father and my husband, where the vast majority of my work lay. I would write about them until I was done or sick of it, whichever came first, and we'd review and go from there. So I dutifully went home, full of resolve to finally move forward, wrote 5 pages on my father, completing his portion, then stopped. And stayed stopped.

I've written before about the state of  my marriage since sobriety. The idea of truly writing down (making real)
all my resentments and pain of the past 15 years scared the crap out of me. Every day, I pray for knowledge of god's will and the power to carry it out, and occasionally I ask for clarity on the marriage front, if god's in the request-filling mood. A couple of times, my HP has provided clarity in a big way. Though interpreting
the message is a bit tricky, a shift occurs.

So for the last two weeks, I've been itching to do my fourth step. Just get it over with. So I set a meeting with my sponsor for 7/16  about a week ago, knowing I work best to a deadline. Tried to work on it. You can see how well that was going from the post before this one.  Between the subject actually being around, and my fear, I kept putting it off. Tuesday, I spoke my fear aloud to a very good sober friend. Without hesitation, she told me to move through the fear and do it. No ifs, ands, or buts, get it done. Of course, I knew that, but her resolve bolstered me.

Thursday, my husband tells me he is taking the kids to an amusement park for the weekend. Problem solved. Friday, our couples therapist tells me I need to re-watch Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. That no matter where my husband is at, I am as far down the rabbit hole as I can get. Being a person who likes to skip to the end, I found this (rather intellectual and weighty, but delivers the point):

After which, I had no choice but to avoid working on my fourth step by watching the movie again. I went to bed thinking I may have to postpone this part of my inventory with my sponse, despairing my lack of courage. I woke at 5:45 am, made a cup of coffee, calculated that I had 4 hours to get through it and sat down to write. A couple hundred bullets later, a graph of our drama cycle, and a sheet on what I do get out of the marriage, I was done. Not out of time done.  Not 80/20% done, not half-assed, this-is-the-best-I-can-do-right-now done. 
Finished. In my heart, I knew I truly done the work-that I had cleaned out all the bad stuff I knew about today. 4 hours and 2 minutes later.

I went into the bathroom to get ready for the meeting. Suddenly, I realized I had done it. On the heels of that feeling and with a wallop: I hadn't done it alone. I started to cry (well sob actually) in gratitude: for each step of what I relayed above was so clearly a gift of exactly what I needed when I needed it to finish. Even doing it at this point in time, was exactly when it needed to happen. It could not have happened any sooner, it happened right when it was
supposed to.

I feared melting into a puddle of self-righteous angry goo, and instead learned that I never walk alone. Someone said in a meeting once: fear is a lack of faith. Today that message traveled from my head to my heart. The content of
that 4th step was nothing more than a means to the next step of spiritual awakening, and I knew it would take care of itself, if I stayed out of the way.

I travel in grace, and suddenly I saw it plain as day.

* Just to explain, for those who don't read all the annoying background on the right frame, I was sober for 7,
relapsed for 11. My sponsor's story is very similar, so she believes that focusing on powerlessness, restoration to sanity, and turning it over to god's will is where we needed to stay so I could really GET that message, since I
clearly didn't (or lost it) the first time round. Though I good naturedly chafed against that a bit (busyness/getting things done being my second addiction after alcohol), it was the BEST THING in the world for me. I mention
this because for new folks this would not be the typical path.


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