Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 8 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"
October 8, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Going to meetings, as often as is necessary, as often as I feel able to get there, I feel like I belong somewhere in this world. And then, by being in meetings, I learn to keep on listening in a world where listening appears to be a very difficult skill. Or is it that people hear, maybe one word and then make great assumptions?
I do listen very carefully, especially in meetings. And strangely last night, listening intently to everyone, when I got home, switching on the TV, I'm sure I was watching something interesting, and yet I have no memory of the TV programme this morning and every memory of what was said as people shared their experience, strength and hope last night. Sometimes it's the other way round, I can hear nothing in the meeting because my mind is elsewhere and then go home, watch a TV programme and then have total recall of it. Progress not perfect! Step 10 note to self: HALT, be aware when I'm hungry, angry, lonely, tired and any combination of these four things which impact on my mood. I am pleased I got there last night, to listen and identify with all the words spoken by many people.
I like the reminders at the end of the meeting with the yellow card, "I can say I was here but I cannot share about anyone else who was there." And in a general way, this keeps people safe. I was reminded about myself in early recovery, full of fear; and pride and ego stopped me from sharing the deep pain I had felt over the years about loss, being broken hearted and unable to cope. Fear of being found out, when we are new to recovery might seem strange thing to say, but I did not want to look bad in the eyes of other people. Showing weakness over the years, it was never safe to show any vulnerability in any aspect of my life. And so the wounds remained fresh for a long while and no healing until I realised it was okay to be broken and in the repair shop of life.
What are the risks that I considered in telling the truth in the Fellowship of AA? Same risks as anywhere else is my experience. If people knew my vulnerability it could be exploited against me. And yet I knew that telling the truth would liberate me from the bondage of self. It was obvious, once I told the truth, and I could start to learn again, and I could work on my emotional and spiritual life whatever it might turn out to be. Telling the truth, it meant that the right people would likely stick around to help me, and anyone else who could not help or had prejudice against my experiences and me, would leave me alone. The loss of people who do not want to help me; now that I regard as an asset today. And I continue to get my freedom to learn life one day at a time.
I don't imagine for a second that "everybody" is on my side, that is an unrealistic expectation. Indeed, everyone in recovery is doing the best they can in the moment of now. Some people are good, some people are bad and some people are downright ugly. Some people are looking for something else other than recovery, a return back to the old life and what they thought was normal. The old life actually was not normal, fuelled by addiction to whatever substance or behaviour, often, so we could fit in and hope for the best or actually hopeful some pipedream might be achieved when in reality, it would be impossible.
And we don't have to try be the best "anything" in recovery. A good day is making progress in whatever endeavour we choose. And the first freedom is in telling the truth, spilling the beans, not knowing the answers, and a willingness to try new ways to live. We learn how to cherish life, we learn how superficial and indifferent we might have been ourselves, and we learn about those who can cherish us, and we start to learn how to cherish ourselves so we are worthy people. And we stop making the mistake, that all people are on our side, and we stop trying to be everything to everybody else. We learn to cope with the truth; the can-do cannot do and learn the wisdom of what a full life feels like in the moment of now. And we also learn that we often need time out to get healthy emotionally and spiritually, so that when others need our help we can and we do, making progress each day.
Something I have learned over the years, if we can tell the truth and share openly, the right people come along who may be able to help, and also the wrong people come along, full of sayings, full of their own ideas for you or me and full of good intent. The problem with good intent is it is not enough. The road to hell is paved with good intent, so don't be a good intent person who has no knowledge, no experience. Doing good often means we start from scratch because we do not know the answers, we simply learn the answers to our current life situation, or help another person find the answers which are right for them.
When we bump into people outside of meetings, we often get a snapshot of what is troubling if a person is sensitive and quite a deep feeling individual. Or we get a snapshot of someone who prefers to look right rather than feel right about their situation. Either way it is a good indicator of what we can and cannot do. We can help person dig deep into what is troubling them if we are the appropriate person. And equally we can be the wrong person, because each person has their preferences. I shared time with a friend recently, watching the world go by and I feel we made some progress in helping understand to do next with a particular problem. And then ambling along, another who we know, still living the pipedream rather than the reality, a particularly unpleasant individual exploiting and undermining the serenity of other people, not me anymore. They are an acquaintance, neither friend nor foe and knowing this is all part of forgiving everyone everything in the moment of now, or I will be stuck back in pride ego and fear intending to fix the impossible. Because I have learned that if I do not know what is right for me, I certainly don't know what is right for other people especially if I have no common ground, and find them unpleasant in their outlook and actions today. And of course they can change, never say never in recovery!
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