“The reality – the real reality – is that we are already worthy, there is no test to pass.”
That’s right. Worthiness. Self-worth. Feeling worthy. I battled with this demon for decades. I battle a little less each day and am winning the war. Go me!
Worthiness was all in my mind. I tied my self-worth to people, places and things for years (like a good alcoholic). Even after I got sober, I still did this and could not figure out why I wasn’t feeling any different. Then I started reading my Big Book and a ton of other books.
There is no test to pass! No one is judging me. Okay, maybe some people are (human nature), but you know what? Who cares! In the end I have to stand before me and my Higher Power and that is all I have to live with. If I can get to the end of the day and go through my inventory and know that I did the best I could, recognize where I need improvement and give it to a God of my understanding, I have lived my life as intended.
Do you ever feel unworthy? How do you leap that hurdle?
I noticed something about myself yesterday and it wasn’t one of those, “oh wow, this is so cool! I didn’t know I could do that!” epiphanies. It was more like an, “are you freaking kidding me, why do I do this?” glaring defect.
Sometimes I act a certain way, think a certain way or feel a certain way simply because I think that I THINK this is what I am supposed to do. Like, I really get upset over unmonumental bullcrap. Sincerely. This light bulb went off in my head this morning.
So then I ask myself: “WHY AM I SO DAMN ANGRY?” Like, why do I let my head control me to the point of borderline insanity? I don’t know the answer to this question, but I do know that it drives me batty and I am in the painstaking process of changing the way I think so I can change the way I feel there by changing the way I act.
Did you ever tell someone something and their reaction is along the lines of, “Well, just stop doing that.” or “Think about something else.” or (and this is my favorite) “Get over it.”
Get over it?! Cue bitter resentment teetering on unabated rage. “Nobody tells me to get over it! I’ll get over it when I’m good and ready!” “How dare you tell me that. You don’t know how I feel.”
Yeah, somebody call me the Waaambulance.
So, this morning after much coffee and a bowl of Special K Fruit & Yogurt (okay, two bowls) mature thoughts started to creep in my head (kinda like a black goo, only not as ugly) and I started to think:
I do not have to feel this way!
Anger is a choice and it’s on me if I choose anger (or any one of the subcategories of anger).
I can come back to these ugly thoughts later.
I will feel how I choose to feel today.
Let me repeat that last one: I will feel how I choose to feel today.
And that there is the truth about anger. We choose to feel angry, resentful, jealous, bitter and any of the other byproducts of hate. We also choose to feel many of the byproducts of love. We get to choose how we feel about anything at any moment in any situation. We have that power. That’s some huge stuff right there!
Today I have a choice and so do you. Today I will choose love over anger, confidence over insecurity and acceptance over jealousy.
Step Five: Admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
A couple of days ago, I posted “That Terrifying Fourth Step” and discussed how there is a palpable fear associated with Step Four. I never understood that because Step Four is just writing it all down. Writing down my searching a fearless moral inventory was somewhat unsettling since there are things that come up I never thought were in my head. But I was okay with writing! I mean, I am a writer and writing about myself (an egomaniac with an inferiority complex) was right up my alley.
Step Five is when I shared what I wrote with my Higher Power and another human being. Think about that for a second. I shared with God and another human being (my sponsor) the exact nature of my wrongs. All the people I had harmed, all my character defects, all my fears; all of the anger and sadness inside of me had to come out.
The most rewarding aspect of Step Five was the honesty with myself. I had been lying to myself and justifying behaviors for decades. I never thought that being honest with me would be a stepping stone to freedom.
Sharing my wrongs with God was easy because my perception of my God changed after I entered AA and began work with my sponsor. My God had always been a punishing God and I always felt so dirty after any wrong act or thought I ever did or had because I felt that my God would hate me. Any ill will that came to me was because I was a bad person, did bad things and deserved to be punished.
I talked to my sponsor about my concept of God and she told me I could change my concept of God to what worked for me. My God did not have to be an all-watching eye in the sky bent on punishing me, but could be a loving God capable of forgiveness.
When I had to share my inventory with my sponsor, I was a little apprehensive. I mean, I was a people pleaser! I was who I had to be at any given time; would go to painstaking lengths to achieve the role, no matter how it made me feel. So sharing all the awful things, terrible thoughts and ideals I had been a little unnerving.
Step Five is no walk in the park. But the sense of accomplishment and self-confidence I felt after completing Step Five was amazing. I felt lighter and, believe it or not, loved by my God for my honesty with Him, my sponsor and myself.
Have you ever had to tell on yourself? How did you feel afterwards?
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.
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.”