The Terrifying Fourth Step

AA Big Book
AA Big Book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Ah, yes. The step I became fearful of simply from others’ talk of it in the rooms. “Oh boy, wait ’til you get to the fourth step!” “You’re gonna do your fourth step? Good luck!”

It took me a while to get the fear of this step. The fourth step was a look at my internal makeup. What made me angry? What made me fearful? Jealous? Insecure? Angry? Hell yeah I wanted to talk about all this crap! Are you kidding? It was about time someone would listen to me!

So I got with my sponsor and we sat down and read the fourth step (out of the Big Book) and then I went home and wrote down in a nice little chart all the people who pissed me off, why they pissed me off and what part of me their behavior effected. Yes! This is why I am the way I am! These are the awful things that people did to me! Of course I was a drunk. How could I not be? You would be a drunk too if you had to put up with all this crap right here on these pieces of paper that I painstakingly wrote on for hours and hours as I wiped the tears away (alcoholics tend to have a flair for the dramatic).

I went back to my sponsor and we went over my fourth step. I felt great! I got to list all the reasons why I was the way I was! This whole getting sober thing was getting better and better. And then came the question I had to answer that made me understand why there was so much anguish around this step. It was the “second part” of Step Four.

What was my part in it? Say what??? My part? There was no way I had a part in the way someone else treated me. Little doe-eyed, innocent Darlene. What could I have possibly done? So we went back through the list. And I have to say, thank the heavens I was blessed with an open mind and an ability to WANT to look at my (emotional) insides (although I’m sure my physical insides are very lovely!).

Because what I found out about my part in the way others had treated me was not fun. Still, it was huge in my recovery. Yes, I had a part in the way my ex-husband treated me. Yes, I had a part in all the broken relationships I was in at some point. Yes, I had a part the degradation I received at my first real office job. All of this “I had a part in it” stuff was difficult to deal with.had been done But I had to deal with it nonetheless.

After I recognized my part in the situations I had been in, the wrong that had been done to me and the pain I had felt throughout my life, I had another road to travel down. I had to travel down the “Know Road.” And we all know, once we know, we can never not know. Surprisingly, recognizing my part in my past helped me. I was able to understand (for starters) what made me tick and why I did the things I did. This would lead me to continue rigorous honesty as I approached Step Five.

The Little Things

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...
This is a “thought bubble”. It is an illustration depicting thought. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There comes a point in sobriety when the pink cloud of perfection and “I got this” dissipates.  Life continues to happen as we settle into our newfound freedom.  We settle back into our old way of thinking if we are not working a good program.

There will always be little things.  Life will happen on life’s terms consistently ( we can bank on that!) and it is up to us to learn a new way of coping to deal with the enigmas of life.

Slogans like, “Live and Let Live” and “Life on Life’s Terms” are important throughout our sobriety.  When we were out there, we let everything bother us. We harbored resentments over a lot of crap.  We were angry at our family, friends, the system and God.  We felt wronged and justified in our anger.

This thought process destroyed us!  It destroyed me for sure.  Some of the things that made me angry were other people, traffic, television, my mate at the time and the weather just to name a few.  It took me years to get it in my head that I was letting people, places and things control me by thinking I could control them.

This makes for one ticked off individual.  And how ridiculous is it being upset over little things we have zero control over. It is the moments of perceived loss of control that the Serenity Prayer comes in handy:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Once we realize the only thing we have control over is the way we think and that the way we think affects the way we feel, we now have a sense of freedom.

Finding Our Higher Power

Cover of "Came to Believe"
Cover of Came to Believe

Step Two: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

It’s true.  When we first get clean and sober, finding something greater than ourselves to depend on is paramount. After all, in the throes of our addiction, it was alcohol and drugs that we served.  And that master/slave relationship almost killed us.  Almost.

Your Higher Power can be anything that helps you.  I choose to call my Higher Power God.  And it was God that I called upon that day in 2006 to restore me to sanity. I had nothing left; no hope, no will… nothing.  I had me and I hoped like hell I had God.

I believed that God could help me.  I believed that God could restore me to sanity.  He could and he did.  My obsession with alcohol and drugs vanished and I felt hope for the first time in many years when I sought God for salvation.

We can quit drinking.  We can stop using drugs, stop gambling, stop being promiscuous but if there is no structure, if there is no program, if there is no power greater than us to restore us to sanity, then we are only practicing abstinence. I’ve seen people do this and it has worked to keep the drink or drug down.  But that’s it. They were still angry, hurt, resentful and sad.

Finding a Higher Power is the stepping stone to a new way of life.  When I chose to believe that my God was a loving God and no longer a punishing one, I felt such a sense of peace. Instead of thinking every bad thing that happened to me or every hurdle I had to jump was because I was evil, I started to think “hey, maybe there is something to be learned here.  Maybe this is just life and I need to learn how to live life on life’s terms.”

Wow!  What a concept.

 

We Admitted We Were Powerless

Image: sabacooperative.org
Image: sabacooperative.org

“Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” This is taken from the Big Book and the Twelve & Twelve.

This is the only step we have to do perfectly.  To have an attitude that we “can drink once in a while” or “take a break” is dangerous.  Of course, this is something we alcoholics find out the hard way.  We have all at one time or another, woken up in the morning (or maybe we hadn’t even been to sleep) and said: Man, I am never doing that again! Only to be right back where we were, less than twenty-four hours later.

And let’s face it: admitting we are powerless over anything is tough for us humans.  We have this thing called “pride” that whispers in our ear that we can beat anything.  It whispers that giving up is for suckers and wimps. Our egos and pride tell us that people will laugh at us if we admit we cannot drink (or drug) anymore.

We had come to realize that once we put a drink in our bodies, we could not stop. That first drink rendered us helpless every time.

We tried to drink successfully.  We made empty promises (with good intentions!) that we would only drink beer, or that we would only drink on the weekend or that we would stop drinking at 11 pm. It may have worked for a little while, but ultimately it didn’t work at all.

We could not drink successfully.  We could not stop after one drink.  The minute we put that first drink in us, our bodies and minds crave more and we drink until we are either passed out, puking, in jail or in a crazy situation.  And yes, these crazy situations may make great stories (if we live through them) but they leave us with shame and regret.

The unmanageability of our lives may be that we keep showing up late for work (or not showing up at all), we aren’t paying our bills, we are cheating on our spouses or partners, we are getting in fights, driving intoxicated and ending up in jail.  It is one or some or all of these things.  We could not manage our own lives, we could not manage our drinking, we could not manage anything.

Step One is the only step we have to do perfect.  If we do that one step perfectly, we will begin the road to recovery and our lives will begin to change in a positive way.

F.E.A.R.

I was working with one of my sponsors a few weeks ago, and she told me this phrase.  I almost fell out of my chair.  There are a few acronyms for “FEAR” such as: F*ck Everything And Run and Face Everything And Recover.  But… False Evidence Appearing Real is the one that works best for me. I have a lot of fear in everything I do.  Or should I say, everything I don’t do.  Fear holds me back in many decisions.  Is that why I am so damn indecisive?

Umm… definitely.

There have been times I felt the fear and did it anyway.  Like, the first time I rode a motorcycle, or a roller coaster, or stood up for myself in junior high school when I got in a fist fight.  There was definitely a lot of fear in those instances, but I did it anyway.  Ok, maybe getting in a fist fight is not the best example… The point is, I felt the fear and pushed through it.

A lot of us as children were afraid of the dark.  I remember when I was a little girl, I was afraid of my closet.  I swore to everything that there was a monster waiting to eat me.  The false evidence was the creeks from behind the closet door.  The fear appeared real because I believed it.  I would jump up and turn the light on, go look inside the closet and hey… no monster!  Imagine that.  The false evidence had appeared very real.

I am going through a major life change in the next six weeks.  I decided I need to leave my boyfriend.  We met in recovery a couple of months after I got sober.  He has done a lot for me and we have been through some great times.  But I see the big picture and it is pretty blank.  I won’t go into the sordid details (although it would make for some interesting reading).  Let’s just leave it in the “we grew apart” ditch.

Fear is absolutely a healthy emotion in certain situations.

So I have to be out by December 1st! How will I do it? Who the hell knows… I have faith in God, in my program and in myself that I will pull through this.

Have you ever pushed through the fear? How did you overcome? Share your thoughts and stories below! 

Back to Our Regulary Scheduled Programming

Today was  quite a ruckus, eh?  A lot of webpages (including all of my blogs) were blacked out as a protest to the PIPA/SOPA Act. Apparently, we may be moving something along according to this report here.

Way to go protesters!!  Man, how far have we come! We the people of the United States of America don’t even have to get off our asses to protest something… Niiiice.

Hopefully the lot of us have stirred the fire.  And to the lot of you who had no idea what was going on (Facebook updates like: What the hell is up with Wikipedia?) shame on you.

What do you think?  How would you feel if you wanted to share an article or a song with someone on the internet and all of a sudden a steel door slammed over your screen, thereby smashing you fingers into the keyboard because it is FORBIDDEN to share the interesting with a fellow computer friend?  I mean, in this new age, it is all about sharing.  Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Blogger, WordPress… all of these sites share information, pictures, videos, music, blog posts and opinions.

SOPA/PIPA would be like an ugly little gremlin (no offense 80’s Gremlins and car Gremlins) sitting on your screen and blacking out your screen anytime you wanted to view something forbidden.  It would look something like this:

███ ████████ ██████ ██████████ ██ ████ ██ ████ ██████████ ██. ███ ███ This comment has been found in violation of H.R. 3261, S.O.P.A and has been removed.

SERIOUSLY?? It’s almost like Bizarro World.. but, more bizarro-er.  Check out this link here to get updated on all this garb.

Now.  Onto ROW80.

This week is STELLAR so far.  I got a lot of posting done, got a lot of writing done with the help of 750words.com and commented on a slue of blogs.  I slacked on editing my current WIP.  But it’s all good.  I am catching up on it tonight.

This Sunday is the New York Motorcycle Show! Sa-weet! I will be taking loads of pictures and posting mega content on the hottest new bikes and gear for 2012.  So be sure to look for that.

In other news, someone approached me about covering their heavy metal band doing a gig in Trenton, NJ in March.  😀 I am super stoked about that.  Yes, the article will be on my blog.  I am hoping good things will come from this!

GOALS FOR THE WEEK

  • Write
  • Read
  • Comment
  • Blog
  • Exercise

Happy ROWing my wonderful blogger/writer/ROWer peeps!