Please enjoy Mary Pearl T's thoughts on Step 7, “Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.”
Upcoming topics include “acronyms and alliterations”. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your favorite Al-Anon acronym, such as QTIP (quit taking it personally), or an alliteration such as the 3 C's (didn't cause it, can't cure it, can't control it).
What trauma has alcoholism brought into your life? How are you healing from it?
I didn’t realize it, but by the time I came to Al-Anon, I had been traumatized by the disease of alcoholism. Al-Anon is helping me to heal from this trauma. I recognized recently that it’s not over, even almost 16 years later.
Recently, I heard of 3 simple steps that can help us to heal from traumatic stress. (Simple, not easy!) I have to admit that I don’t completely understand how to apply them, but what I know is that my progress in Al-Anon has followed these 3 steps. They are:
I came to Al-Anon. I wasn’t sure why I came, except that I didn’t know what else to do.
I kept on coming, just because each time I felt a little better.
I listened and identified with what members said in meetings.
I read Al-Anon literature (this was huge for me in reducing anxiety and enabling me to sleep.)
Act with others.
I can’t do it all by myself. That is the essence of Steps 2 and 3:
Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
I asked another member to be my sponsor. This was my first step to acting with others. I didn’t use my sponsor very effectively, but I did call when I didn’t know how to act or deal in a situation.
I met with other members and formed a step study group (AWOL = A Way Of Life). We met weekly for about 2 years, working through the 12 steps together.
Working through Step 4, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”, with others helped me to see that I am not uniquely broken, and that other people have suffered similar trauma.
Step 5, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”, has been essential in healing my guilt and shame over my past actions. Until I open up to another person, I am not relieved of my pain. In this way, Acting with another is essential to my recovery.
Act from your wise mind.
The concept of “wise mind” comes from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). It has been described as the combination of intellectual thought and emotional thought. OK. What’s that mean for me?
One way I see this action in my program is in Steps 6 and 7. In working Step 6, I try to reach a fullness of understanding and acceptance of my “shortcomings”. Some shortcomings are easy to accept intellectually — I can see the negative effects of my procrastination — but hard to accept emotionally — I am somehow driven to procrastinate but I don’t really know why. Practicing mindfulness can help here. By letting my thoughts just pass by, I start to find acceptance of what is true rather than what I want to be true.
Other shortcomings are obvious emotionally but not so much intellectually. My fear of financial insecurity is/was one of these. I knew I was afraid, but I didn’t know what I could do about it. I couldn’t get out of it by reasoning. In fact, my reasoning mind told me that I should just do the things I was afraid of: check the bank balance, pay the bills on time, make a budget. I had to bring the emotion and the reason together to accept that I needed to ask for help.
When I have reached intellectual and emotional acceptance of a shortcoming, then I am entirely ready to have it removed, and I can move on to Step 7 where I ask for just that.
Many of the components of the Al-Anon program help me to act from my wise mind, by reaching understanding and acceptance of what is true.
The disease concept of alcoholism was foreign to me and I rejected it at first. I had to learn about how addiction affects the brain, and I had to listen to lots of other people’s experiences to really accept it. (From both alcoholics and Al-Anon members.)
I came to see that I truly could not “fix” my loved one. By “accepting the things I could not change”, I could seek “the wisdom to know the difference” and the “courage to change the things I can.” When I kept on trying to do the impossible, I did not see what I could change to make my life better.
Tools and slogans that help me to “act” rather than “react”.
I recently heard a story of a person who was working to make change in their life. It was hard, and most days they weren’t sure they could do it. On the way home each day, they would walk through a park. In the park was a bench, and sometimes they were so overwhelmed that they would just sit on the bench and cry. After a time, they found the energy and the will to get up and continue the journey home. Until the next day…
I’ve been on that bench at times in my life. When I said to myself “I can’t and yet I must”. And I just cried from the seeming impossibility of my task.
Al-Anon helped me to get up from the bench, to start to act for myself. Other members shared their experience, strength, and hope with me. And also shared their pain, so I could know that I was not alone. They showed me how they had found the strength to get up from the bench, and I saw that I could do the same thing. If only for an hour or a day. And that was enough for then.
So if you’re sitting on the bench, crying, not knowing how to heal your trauma, come to us. Act. We will welcome you into our fellowship. Act with us, and start to find your wise mind. You are not alone. Al-Anon is a community where we don’t have to pretend everything is ok. You can find healing, but you must act. You can take one small step and reach out for help.
Upcoming topics include freedom and parenting. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Mary Pearl is open and honest, with a wonderful sense of humor. This is part of a longer talk, so it starts in the middle of an anecdote. She talks here about Steps 6, “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”, 7, “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings”, 8, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all,” and 9, “Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Her talk is full of stories from her own life, which make me grin, make me think, and make me cry.
On Step 8: “I had hurt nearly everyone that I had ever come in contact with that I had allowed to care for me.”
She ends with her understanding of the promises.
Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
What is the difference between humility and humiliation?
Some have compared humility to teachability. How do you understand this statement?
How does humility help keep me from trying to control people and situations?
How Al-Anon Works says “True humility is based upon letting go of self-will and relying instead upon the will of our Higher Power.”
In the “Lois’s Story” chapter in How Al-Anon Works, she writes, “‘Humbly’ was a word I never fully understood. It used to seem servile to me. Today it means seeing myself in true relation to my fellow man and to God.”
What is the connection between anonymity, as we practice it, and humility?
How is humility part of taking care of ourselves, rather than taking care of others?
How do you feel when you say that? How do you feel when you hear it?!
What is the power that confession has for us in Step 5? (Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.) How does the inventory and self-examination of Step 4 make it possible to honestly make that confession? (Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.) How do these combine to give us ownership of our own faults, so that we are ready to change? (Step 6, Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.) And to ask for help in changing ourselves? (Step 7, Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.) Is it possible to truly “make it right” with those we hurt without having first made confession from the depth of our being? (Steps 8 and 9, Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.) Confession, in Steps 5 and 9, is a cornerstone of recovery, and makes it possible to find redemption and forgiveness.
Our topic for next week is either serenity or shame. Both start with the letter “s” but are otherwise pretty much unrelated. (How) have you found serenity? What does it mean to you? Or… Does shame still dominate your life? How has recovery helped you to move into and through your shame? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here. Continue reading “Confession, Redemption, and Forgiveness – Episode 166”