Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 13 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"
October 13, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." A friend shared about their strict and forbearing parent, who with just a look could instil fear in their child, and if the look did not work, worse punishment could be expected. The expectation of fear, and then shame and guilt is something any adult can instil in a child. Mrs Pitt, my form teacher when I was very young struck me hard across the face. I did not have the words for the emotions back then and they were all mixed up in guilt and shame.
There are so many children who experience violence either physically or emotionally: fear, shame, guilt, anger, rage, depression and worse; psychosis. Either the child takes these feelings and churns them inwardly or they learn to express them on anyone anywhere weaker than them. Or in my case, taught by an angry father: how to be harmful to people bigger than me. My father could deconstruct people with words, and rarely utilised physical means, unless of course we were bad. Running was a good option.
Sometimes we get an insight into the families of other people, children mimic the behaviour of their parents in so many ways. Children do not know if it is bad, they just learn at home, in the playground, in the fields, wherever it happens to be. And in recovery, as we become familiar with the steps, we see our actions rather than our intentions come from way back when. The horror, the shame and guilt of resorting to ingrained old behaviour can make us very angry with ourselves when we see it when we do it and when we step ten, or spot check and see the truth of what we do. Deconstruction and reconstruction were key skills I learned over the years and kept me well paid. Those skills, still available to me I use rarely these days in the deconstructing sense, I prefer reconstruction to help and not hinder anyone anywhere today.
Those memories, when I was six years old, when Mrs Pitt hit me across the face because of the way I was writing out sentences from the blackboard, not in joined up writing as she instructed, I printed because that's what I knew. I did not know that the lesson was all about joined up writing, either I missed hearing it, or just did not understand it. The shame in that moment, and every feeling of being undermined stopped me in my tracks. For years I did not read or write beyond classroom assignments. The good news, around the age of eleven, one book set me off on decades of reading books and devouring them. The written word became essential in the jobs I did, being ill to express myself with words let out the poison of the years in recovery.
In early recovery, all these feelings came rushing back, the shame, the guilt, the anger the rage and everything I had pushed away over the years. Resentment was not a word I understood, in my world which was quite superficial, if things were not working out, I would move on and find places to be successful and people with whom I could work with and many girls who drank like me very often. And romance of some sort flourished. The problem being if we really do not know the emotions that are going on inside us at any time, especially the ones which are seen as negative, we do not find the truth of ourselves or other people. We can have deep feelings and have no words to express them. The deepest feelings were of love lost and then the heartbreak which freezes everything in ice and darkness is the worst feeling without an understanding of how to express the loss.
Something I wanted to share yesterday, to recognise that in every moment, no matter what is going on, this is the best a person can be. Sometimes we see the absolute good of everyone around us in the moment, and equally there will be times when the worst of people's behaviour is bad and ugly. It depends on upbringing, experience, and the quickest reaction that people have without thinking. Anyone stopping long enough with the right experiences may respond and find themselves improving many situations, providing of course we can get the cooperation of others involved. And we do this quite naturally in the blink of an eye?
If people are the best they can be in the moment of now: good, bad or ugly, we need to look at ourselves and what we do when we are good bad or ugly. Step ten, the spotcheck inventory available in any moment, becomes an automatic response to what is going on in the moment. Pausing long enough, being aware of our intentions, what is the best action to take? We can only know in the moment and it is the best we can be right then and often right now. Automatic living: robot? Not really, we surprise ourselves and other people surprise themselves if there is a little understanding in how we include others one day at a time.
A vitally important distinction! Emotions: feeling. Intellect: thinking. Emotions: how am I feeling today? Intellect: how am I thinking today? Emotions: can I describe the feelings I have. Thinking: can I describe the thoughts that I have? Very often we do not know how to express our feelings in words. If we understood how to share our feelings, and understood our feelings, no doubt we would be happier beings. It can seem far easier to use our thinking abilities to make ourselves able to take action without regard to our feelings. The more we are taught to think rather than to feel, the easier it is to ignore our feelings and carry on regardless. Until of course no matter how much we think or what actions we take, we just ache with heartbreak.
I suggested to a friend very recently that they start writing a few words each day under three headings: first heading, how am I feeling right now? Why am I feeling this way? What can I do about these feelings? It is a confusing suggestion to anyone anywhere who has been able to push feelings away in whatever fashion, in my case with a large amount of alcohol for many years. Pushing through the feelings and completing activities was often achieved by switching off with alcohol and finding oblivion. Not only easy, the worst way to cope under adverse conditions. We keep on going to the bitter end of something, which is very bitter indeed and into a world of emotions we just cannot tolerate or understand. Step ten: a universal tool to understanding feelings always impact on our thinking, even when our thinking suggests that thinking is superior to emotional well-being.
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