Introspection – What do I do Now ???
Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr
It was another glorious day today. Fresh Air and Blue skies…
It was a busy day today running errands and taking care of business here at home. Finances have been tight and the promise of ” fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us” comes to light in such situations. It is good to be UP on financial responsibilities and on top of the bills and home finances.
I was a little late tonight, having to make stops on the way that took longer than I had expected, because they could not find my huge bag filled with pills in the mass of bags that had been filled recently at the pharmacy. I saw new faces behind the wicket so that was the challenge.
It seems the mall is in the final stages of preparation for the BIG REVEAL that is coming very soon now. The spaces on the mezzanine level outside of IGA and Pharmaprix are coming along. The ground floor is still in process as I noticed tonight that they are again working on the floor and other shop spaces that were open are now blocked off and being worked on.
Set up went quickly. And I set out more than enough tables tonight, almost begging God to bring us more folks tonight. I am of the mind that “If you build it, they will come!” and come they did. We sat a fair number tonight.
Most of our guests, aside from the group members who have considerable time, are new to the program. A good sign, that we have work to do and people to work with.
Our chair for the evening spoke to us in opening the floor to discussion with recent events that will translate into a topic.
A number of his sponsees are working their steps, and having transited 4 through 9 – the actual writing and inventory and personal house cleaning they have reached the “MAINTENANCE” steps … 10, 11 and 12.
And the question invariably comes up … “What do I do now?”
We’ve just spent the better part of our sober time working on ourselves and writing the garbage that was our past on to paper and we’ve made lists of character defects and shortcomings, we’ve discussed them with our sponsors and each other, and we step into the final part of recovery.
Most people who get here get the stock answer … “let’s turn to page 84 in the Big Book and let’s read the Tenth Step.”
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it …”
For the women, who really know how to pound the book, would tell us that this is a written step that one does every day. To actually sit down and write a tenth step in order to speak it to our sponsors the next day during our appointed call time. For those of you paying attention … The women are always working on something. And calling every day EVERY DAY, is standard operating procedure.
Most men do not call each other every day or every other day for that matter.
We read from the book, on ten, making that impromptu inventory, we then set it to prayer and meditation (step 11) and we go to meetings and we work with others (step 12).
In the beginning we rely on the book and a good sponsor to guide us into the parts of the book that will, over time, become rote. We learn what it means to work 10, 11 and 12, we read the book, we act it out for ourselves, and each other and we carry the message to others coming up the ranks.
Once we’ve taken the inventory steps and done the work, we know a little about who we were, what happened and we now sit with what we are like now. And in some cases, here is where we get our lives handed back to us to actively work towards building the life we have been promised in the book.
And it is work. But it is not the big, bad and demeaning work, but it is positive and uplifting and enhancing to our sobriety. We have, for some, found a power greater than ourselves that we turn our lives over to every day, for most, it is God, but there are some, as I have said recently, cannot find God, if he came down from heaven and stood in front of them …
But I digress …
On a daily basis now, we take spot inventory during our day. We notice where we might be off and where an amend might be prudent. And I’ve heard it said over and over, if you are having a bad day … You CAN start your day over at any time of the day as needed.
There is also the practice of writing a gratitude list every day, to keep us mindful of all the good things in our lives on a daily basis.
We should, by now, have begun the formation of spiritual practice. Post finding that power greater than yourself we learn how to pray, for those who may not know how to pray or who to pray to, the universe, God or something that brings you peace and comfort.
For me that is God.
A while back a good lady friend of mine gave me a package of prayer cards, 12 in fact. A prayer for each step and a few dropped in here or there. I keep these cards by the computer and I read them every morning and every night before bed. A little help in the prayer department never hurt.
They say that Prayer is the speaking to God bit, but after we’ve spoken our words, we should cultivate “time to listen” for an answer. And that is where meditation comes in. (Step 11)
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him. praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.”
Prayer comes in many forms and can be done throughout the day and night, as we learn how to incorporate this practice into our lives. The serenity prayer is very popular. For the religious members, The Our Father and other assorted prayers come to mind.
And now, we should have, as I have mentioned in the past, built our lives around our meetings, and namely our Home Group. A Home Group is a non-negotiable night. You always attend your home group, because that is where we get connected and we learn to do service.
Because it is in working with others, that we get to practice the 12th Step.
“Having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Nothing guarantees our sobriety like direct work with another alcoholic. If we have read the book, worked with our sponsors and gone to enough meetings, and we have come – we’ve come to – and we’ve been restored to sanity, we get to share our experience with others who come up behind us.
Our lives, our stories, the what, where, who, when and why of our stories is what makes us who we are. And at some point, someone is going to ask you to share/speak at a meeting. I would say that when we speak, we have arrived.
We’ve spent hours, days, weeks and months talking in discussion meetings, We’ve been a numerous speaker meetings, we’ve been to Big Book and Step meetings, and all along, we are working on ourselves.
We have, in essence, been polishing the diamond that is our lives, with a little help from the God of our understanding, and each other.
The final three steps are meant to get us into the practice of actively living and working a sober lifestyle. It is our choice what we do with our lives, once we’ve cleared the wreckage of the past.
The promises state that (in time) we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.
We are not who we were, or what we did or what we have said.
You are WHO you are at this very moment. Right now, as you read this. It was your choice to change and your choice to cultivate the life you are now living.
I have said over and over that there is no greater blessing than to attend the same meetings over the years and watching folks get sober.
Because when they come in they are sad and disillusioned. They come, they come to and they begin the work. And in time, the gem begins to appear and over time that gem gets polished, and in the end it sparkles with the life that has been renewed and that is YOU.
Embrace the 10th, 11th and 12th steps.
They will dictate the person you become, as you work the program.
It was a good night.
Now it is time for dinner. More to come, stay tuned …