Fearless and Thorough
Before I had come into the rooms of AA the words fearless and thorough did not hold much meaning for me. For as long as I could remember I was the person who had all the gear and no idea. I would take up an interest, hobby or sport, usually the latest craze, and read all of the books, throw myself into it with 110% enthusiasm often to the point of obsession. Soon enough however, I would lose interest, maybe realising that most things took effort and often realising that there were people better than me so I gave up, couldn’t be bothered and the latest interest would be forgotten about.
It was a shock then to come into the rooms of AA and encouraged to be ‘fearless and thorough’: "With all the earnestness at our command we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start" (BB 69. Chapter 5 How it works). It is only now looking back at my progress through the 12 Steps that I really understand the meaning of the words ‘fearless and thorough’ and how with the help of my home group, sponsor and higher power, I have been able to work the steps fearlessly and thoroughly to the best of my ability with relative ease.
When I came into AA and first saw the steps on the wall of what was to become my home group; I tried, like many, to think my way through them, suss them out and get to grips with them in a bid to work out what was wrong with me; and then I’d be ok to leave and drink like a gentleman. Like many I had my reservations about steps 4, 5, 8 and 9, initially. I did harbour the feeling that perhaps I could skip these steps, that they did not apply to me quite so much as others in the rooms.
My sponsor made it clear to me when I embarked on my searching and fearless moral inventory (step 4) that I was to hold nothing back, I was to be fearless and thorough or I may well drink again. After all the big book says if we try to keep to ourselves certain facts about our lives we may not overcome drinking. Even after I had started the process of my inventory I wasn’t entirely sure that I would divulge absolutely everything to myself (step 4 was the first time I had been honest to myself), my sponsor and higher power. There were certain facts about my life and behaviour I thought I would take to the grave.
I know today I took inventory of myself thoroughly, often facing my fears and held nothing back; and I shared it all with my sponsor and higher power (Step 5). I can say that with confidence and sit alone with a peace and ease I’ve never known before.
Like many others I viewed steps 8 and 9 with trepidation. At step 8 I looked at how my actions had harmed others and how exactly I would have felt if someone had behaved in that way towards me. This step was raw, again as in my step 4 and 5 I learned humility and empathy for others, I swallowed some big chunks of truth about myself and my past behaviour. In my step 9 I have the opportunity to make amends to those I had harmed and whilst I have not yet completed all of my amends this has been a humbling yet incredibly rewarding experience with nearly all amends being accepted with grace. Today I have friends back in my life who I haven’t spoken to in years, I have made amends to my family and this time I can mean it and continue to show it in my actions on a daily basis. I still have amends to do however – I pray for the willingness to do these amends and rely on my Higher Power for courage.
In hindsight I don’t believe I realised how much I relied on my step 3 prayer and the beginnings of a relationship with my creator in undertaking steps 4 and 5. Looking back now I know step 3 was fundamental to enabling me to have the courage to be fearless and thorough in this seemingly massive undertaking. Likewise steps 6 and 7 provided me with the faith, courage and fearlessness I needed to undertake steps 8 and 9. I believe today that the antidote to fear is faith and it is this faith that has enabled me to work the steps and this programme to the best of my ability so far.
I call on all of the steps today in order for me to try and work my programme to the best of my ability on a daily basis. I know I must remain fearless and thorough in continuing this new design for living that I have learnt through working the 12 steps of AA.
Chris JD, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth