Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Step Eight: Making Our List and Becoming Willing

We Made a List of All Persons We Had Harmed and Became Willing to Make Amends to Them All
List the people I've harmed and the specific ways I harmed each one.
-My Mom; I've stolen and borrowed countless dollars from her
-Tristan; I misled him, even though I didn't mean to, and it led to an ugly situation
-Misty; I broke her and Tristan up. Though Tristan was largely to blame as well, I played my part.
-John; I broke him and Alisha up. Alisha definitely had her part in it, but I did nothing to stop it.
-Bill; I stole a handful of pills from him a while back.
-Peter; I should have said a lot more than I did to save our marriage.
-Dave; Even though breathing down my neck pushed me away, I could have handled his concern a lot better.
-Doug; He hurt me the most, but my negligence caused it.
-Blythe; she was the first to call me on my shit, and died very angry with me.
-Airian; I pushed her away a little too readily

Why is saying "I'm sorry" alone not sufficient to repair the damage I have caused? Words are cheap, especially from someone who has hurt you.

Why is only changing my behavior not sufficient to repair the damage I have caused? No one will gain closure from this. If there is one thing in my life that I crave the most, it's closure.

Do I have financial amends that I don't want to make? A few, I'm still dealing with National Grid down my throat, so that's ongoing.

What would my life be like if I had already made these amends? I wouldn't feel bad about spending money.

Do I owe amends to people who have also harmed me? You betcha.

What have I done to become willing to make these amends? Swallowed my pride, even in some situations that were only partially my fault.  Pride is that thing that gets in the way of my forgiveness. Me and forgiveness have a bumpy road together...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Step Eight: Preparing to Work Step Eight

We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all

Am I hesitating in any way about working the Eighth Step? Why? There are so many unsaid things to the people who used to be my family, and since Blythe is dead, there is nothing I CAN say to her.  That whole situation was a clusterfuck, and I don't want to reopen the can of worms...

Do I realize the need to slow down and consult my sponsor before making amends? I did rush in the past, and as a result Dave told me in short to fuck off.  I did it too soon, and didn't word it right.  I may never speak with him again, but I think I did my part and apologized for my part in the situation.

Have I created more harm in any situation by rushing out to make amends before I was ready?  How?  I shouldn't have put in that clause "you owe me an apology too, but I'll man up and apologize first."  That was arrogant of me, even though I fully believe it's the truth.  I was told to not even pray for him and his kids.  I fucked it up, and he'll never be a part of my life again.  Part of me is glad, but there is still a part of me that still mourns the loss.

List the resentments that are in the way of my willingness to make amends.

-Dave was entirely out of line in his disregard for my need for space, and held it against me
-Doug acted on a selfish impulse, and refused to try and make it work
-Blythe is now some kind of martyr, even though she was partially at fault herself
-Michelle is a crazy bitch who was responsible for a lot of grief for two months strait.  I can't stand to be in the same room as her.

Can I let these resentments go now?  If not, can I muster the willingness to add these names to my list anyway, and worry about becoming willing later? I'm getting better at letting things go, so the more recent offenses are easier to forgive.  Michelle for instance.  She is sick.  I have no desire to "help" her like the Big Book says, but I can see that her offense was a direct result of her disease.  I'm going to have to get over what my old family did to me if I ever want to get over it.

Are there any people to whom I owe amends who may be a threat to my safety or about whom I'm truly concerned in some other way?  What are my fears? If I try to apologize again to Dave or Doug I'm just going to make it worse.  I've said my peace.  No, it's not "fine," but it's time to get on with my life.

I bleed it out, dig it deeper just to throw it away

Friday, March 14, 2014

Step Seven: Moving On

We Humbly Asked Her to Remove Our Shortcomings

Have there been times when I've been able to refrain from acting on a character defect and practice a spiritual principle instead? Do I recognize this as God working in my life? Well I'm not seeing the instinct to overreact slow down quite yet, but I am able to reflect afterward, calm down and talk it out with an apology.  I can set my pride aside and admit that I'm wrong.  I was a jerk.  I was wrong, and I'll try to make it right.  I can, however, swing wildly to the other extreme and become a doormat sometimes, so I need to be very careful.  It's so hard to tell where my accountability ends and where theirs begins...
Which shortcomings have been removed from my life or diminished in their power over me? Pride.  Greed. I was so ungrateful before, when had everything I had the nerve to still be miserable and complained loudly.  Now I have nothing, and need to realize that I am entitled to nothing.  I am grateful for a roof, electricity, hot water, heat and a place in my daughter's life.  I'm grateful for toilet paper and clothes on my back.  These are things that some people just don't have in other countries.  I'm the poorest jack in town, and yet I would be living like a king in some third world country.  In place of pride, I have gratitude.  And for that I am thankful.
Why does the Seventh Step foster a sense of serenity?My spirit allies have my back.  Sometimes I take my faults back, but they gently remind me to let them go again.  It sure beats taking the opiates back.  If I let the defects back, it's only a matter of time before I let the other not so good stuff back in too.  I am not alone in this.  I set some time aside for the Lord and Lady every night.  I find peace at least for a few minutes a day, and it's better than nothing.
Mirror, mirror on the wall/ To a place beyond the coast/ You're a damned kind can't you see/that the winds have changed?
~Ghost Out

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Step Seven: Spiritual Principles

We Humbly Asked Her to Remove Our Shortcomings

Have I accepted my powerlessness over my shortcomings as well as my addiction? Expand on this. I suppose the gamut of all of this is that if you cannot practice something in moderation, don't practice it at all.  Powerless is not helpless.  Nor is it an excuse to act on these shortcomings.  If I keep thinking the way I have been, I am doomed to relapse.  If nothing changes, nothing changes.  I have to change the mode in which things are perceived, which is a shortcoming in and of itself, and once I challenge that, everything else falls into place.  I cannot change anything by using old modes of thought.  I am not helpless to take another path however.

How has my surrender deepened?I'll say.  Trust in my Higher Power has come leaps and bounds.  I feel I have been put through a lot these past four and a half years in order to show me that playing with fire will get you burned.  I have to trust that things will pan out, with or without me.  I can participate and influence things in my favor, or run away and let the path of least resistance prevail.  Oftentimes, that path gets very dark. The fool learns from his mistakes.  The wise man learns from others' mistakes.  But who, in the end... is truly wiser?

Do I believe that my Higher Power will remove my shortcomings or grant me freedom from the compulsion to act on them? Do I believe that I’ll be a better person as a result of working this step? If I have learned anything from meetings, it is that She will remove them on her own time.  Sometimes it helps to recognize a shortcoming and maneuver around it.  This grants better understanding of the self and the situation at hand.  She'll take them if I let her.  And if I find them cropping back up, it is because I haven't let them go fully.  I'm ready to grow, so yes, I will be a better person for it.

How does my faith in the God of my understanding become stronger as a result of working this step? You can't give yourself completely to something without trusting it implicitly.  Trust is a rather large issue for me, and learning to do so -- getting burned or not -- is a process.  The first of which, is of course, the Goddess and the God.  To trust Them is to surrender.  To surrender is to be free.

Where have I had opportunities for growth lately? What did I make of them? Peter is trying to take my little girl away from me.  I thought I had until she was at least 18 in order to find a reason to do this for myself.  If not for me, then for her, right?  Wrong.  I need to do this for me now, and do so before I am forced to.

Do I believe that only my Higher Power can remove my shortcomings? Or have I been trying to do it myself? I'm queen of solitary confinement.  I don't need help.  I don't want help.  Fuck off if you offer.  But little by little, bit by bit, I know that I cannot do this alone. And to have a little faith means being humble enough to admit a need for help.  There are ample opportunities my Higher Power throws at me.  She can lead me to water, but she cannot make me drink.  I need to know when I'm put in a situation that may be painful, but necessary.  The more I try to control it, the more it squirms out of my grasp.  Minimal force needed.  Let it happen while not standing idly by.  A tough balance to strike, but mastery warrants happiness.

Have I become impatient that my shortcomings haven’t been removed right away, as soon as I asked? Or am I confident that they will be removed in God’s time? Confident is not a word I'm familiar with on the regular, but it comes down to trust.  I'm already seeing my humbleness in droves, and that I am capable of that is inspiring.  What else am I capable of? I am inclined to question.  And I intend to find out.  Patience.

Has my sense of perspective been out of proportion lately? Have I begun thinking of myself as more significant or more powerful than I really am? I wish.  If I want to power back, I can always take it, and all the weight that comes with it.  Each step makes my burden a little lighter.  I am not the center of the universe.  Not everybody is out to get me (only a select, deranged few).  There is no conspiracy.  I'm a drop in the bucket, wanting to be the drop that makes the bucket overflow.

Look what you had to start, why all the change of heart? you need to play your part
~Ghosty with the mosty

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Step Seven: Getting Out of the Way

We Humbly Asked Her to Remove Our Shortcomings

How does the spiritual principle of surrender apply to getting out of the way so a Higher Power can work in our lives? I was told at a meeting once that you can either let go and let it happen or hang on and get dragged along.  Also if you are not moving forward (or at least sideways), you are sliding backwards.  I have done nothing a lot and caused a lot of damage just by standing still.  Like stubbornly crossing my arms and saying, "nope, you can't make me."  Pride and stubbornness were my downfalls.  The Serenity Prayer has been my saving grace lately.  I must change the things I can, but not rage at things I cannot in a futile fight.
If things were meant to happen, things will happen.  But I have to participate in my life, not idly watch it go by.

What might be the benefits of allowing a Higher Power to work in my life? My best thinking landed me here.  We smart addicts think too much, and we get in our own way a lot.  My dad says we're the worst kind.  I couldn't do it on my own.  Time to let someone else guide me.  I'm still in the drivers seat, I just need a different map.  A GPS. Stop and ask for directions.  You'd think I was a man or something (snort). 

How do I feel, knowing that a Higher Power is caring for me and working in my life? A lot of people might say 'relieved' or 'inspired.'  Fuck that.  I'm apprehensive as hell.  I'm so used to being in control that letting go is a very scary thing.  To trust the Higher Power of my understanding is to admit defeat, which is what I essentially did in step one.  If She can get me this far, she can put me in opportunities I never thought possible.  Challenges that are coming at me when I think I'm down and out for the count are forcing me back to my feet in ways I never imagined I could do.  She keeps me on my toes I guess.  I find that introspection for myself is quite difficult, but then again if it were easy, that would be an insult to my intelligence or complexity, wouldn't it? har har har.

I'm running out of places I can hide from this
~Ghost out

Step Seven: Asking to Have Our Shortcomings Removed

Humbly Asked Her To Remove Our Shortcomings

How will I ask the God of my understanding to remove my shortcomings? I had a ritual in mind, involving the seven gates that Innana passed through in her hubris to challenge her sister Ereshkegal, Lady of the Underworld.  At each of these gates, she had to leave something behind.  Ereshkegal struck her down after she was led through naked on her hands and knees and Enki had to come rescue her.  Going back through, she gained aspects of wisdom after a hard lesson learned (her sister pretty much kicked her ass).  This myth is congruent to the challenges of life.  We as humans face an average of seven in our lifetime (though by no means is that number set in stone).  Each time we come back stronger, or at the very least changed.  I want to recover with grace, not be deformed by the very madness that makes me myself.

Can other recovering addicts help me figure out how I’m going to ask? Have I asked them to share their experience, strength, and hope with me? Have I asked my sponsor for guidance?  Elaine is pretty oblivious to Pagan thought, though Camilla might have some insight.  Unfortunately Camilla lives in Millerton, about two hours away, and is very busy caring for her deathly ill partner.  She doesn't return phone calls often, and is one of the only other Wiccans I know within the program.  This may have to be a solitary ritual.  Elaine has offered to help, though her lack of knowledge in the area has proven quite and obstacle.  I can't keep putting this off.  If I have to do it by myself, then so mote it be.

The more we change, everything stays the same

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Step Seven: Preparing to Work Step Seven

We Humbly Asked Her to Remove Our Shortcomings

Which of my attitudes have changed since I’ve been in recovery? Where has the overblown been deflated, and where has the healthy part of me been uncovered? I have acknowledged that not only reality exists, but must be respected, honored and lived.  The pain of life is no different, no less despair inducing and oppressing, but it is not a reason to go running away screaming.  I don't have to so vehemently reject it, fear it and ultimately discard it.  The want in me is slowly being replaced by motivation.

How does humility affect my recovery? HUMILITY: noun, the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance or rank.  Being realistic about my attitudes and beliefs in myself has given way to realistic expectations.  I am not god, but I am not helpless.  I am manipulative, lazy and cruel, but I am also empathetic, passionate and intelligent.  I must use these qualities to healthy ends, though I will not delude myself into thinking that I will use them for purely good.  I am human, and I make mistakes.  Even acts that are selfish or intended to harm don't have to be viewed as mistakes on my part -- simply steps taken in an attempt to live, experience and relate to other human beings.  Once I can be real with myself, I can be real with the world.  Which means facing it, for better or worse.

How does being aware of my own humility help when working this step? Being open to the idea that a Power greater than myself has the wherewithal to remove something from me, anything really, is a humbling thought in and of itself.  Trust comes into play.  How do I know that once I turn these things over that She won't take something else of mine that benefits me? Would it have helped me in the first place? See Step Three.  Faith and Trust are two completely different ideals.  I am dealing with the Faith aspect of the spectrum; having faith that this entity will open avenues for me to follow in order to rid myself of my addictive and harmful qualities.  The opportunity is there.  Now it's up for me to do the legwork.  Well fuck, there goes lazy.

How has my understanding of a Higher Power grown in the previous steps? How has my relationship with that Power developed? Well She has certainly gained a good amount of trust upon answering 'prayers' offered in desperation.  When I remembered, "Oh yeah, what ABOUT God?" things just fell into place, though through my eyes the answer has been tenuous at best.  I still worry about what is going to happen next week.  I still obsess over what happened last week.  They say "one day at a time," and it's beginning to make more and more sense by the hour.

How has my work on the previous steps made me ready to work the Seventh Step? Well step six is being entirely ready, isn't it? Life just keeps getting more ironic by the day.

I memorized the words to the porno movies.  It's the only thing I want to believe.
~Ghost out