Not an overnight matter

Good meeting last night, though I caught only half an hour of it after my psychology class.  Every meeting is a good one, innit?  R made our tenth step the suggested topic, he read from the 12 and 12, the paragraph from page 91 that talks about restraint of pen and tongue.  Tenth step meetings baffle me.  I guess I’m just baffled in general that our book is so neglected in this program of recovery and that the tenth step is so often seen as a band-aid for f*ck ups.  The directions I am given are clear:

This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.   -A.A. Big Book p.84

It is clear that I begin incorporating this step into my recovery practice once I have taken the other 9 steps.  As I clean up the past (step 9,) I commence with step 10.  My next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness, which includes a nightly review.  I continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear–the very roots of my character defenses–and ask that they be removed when they crop up.  Here is the component that is glossed over time and time again, and a mistake I have made repeatedly (which has caused me spiritual pain in the long run:) We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone.  I don’t run off to set these matters straight without first discussing them with someone.  When I’m alone in my head, I’m in a bad neighborhood.  I have to run that stuff by someone with some distance from the situation before I make a bigger mess of things.  If it is agreed that I owe an amends and I am in the right frame of mind to do so, I make amends quickly.  Then, as is suggested to me ad nauseum throughout my owner’s manual, I resolutely turn my thoughts to someone I can help.  “We must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others.” (p.86.)

I am happy that anyone who is there in the rooms is reaching out for help.  A day sober on the fellowship is better than a day drunk, hands down.  I do know that the quality of my sobriety is infinitely better when I am in the middle of the triangle, that a three legged stool won’t stand without one of the legs.  My sobriety is precarious at best without the solution contained in the first 164 pages of our book, Alcoholics Anonymous.  Call me a thumper, a lawyer or a beater, call me what you will.  I have a reputation in the meetings around here but I think most folks smile when they see me crack the book.  They know that I love this program because it saved my life.  They know that I love them and that I will do anything for my fellow alcoholics.  And hey, they know they can come to me if they need to  know what page the Jaywalker story is on (37!)

I  know that I am rigid, and if anything will ever destroy AA it is rigidity.  I know this is something I need to work on, and I have made progress.  I am chipping away at it, melting the icy protective coating of my severity.  It has served me well in some ways, in others it has kept me from living.  This is, as our book says, not an overnight matter.


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