Going through the 12 steps was not only the best thing to happen to me, but the first time I got to truthfully and thoroughly look at myself in all the good and all the bad. Whenever I would go on a drinking spree I would affect the others around me. I would then wake up the next day or so with 10 seconds of peace…followed by the regretful memories of embarrassment and destruction. What instantly followed this was an incessant stream of rationalisations. Rationalise all day to sweep the negative chaotic acts under the carpet and into my subconscious where they belonged. Then all I would do would be to simply try to not think about these regrets and move on, only for the same thing to happen again, again and again.
My ego would not allow me to be honest with myself and others. Humility was brief and apologies were selfish, less about the other person’s feelings and more about my life not being effected too much by my actions. Fleeting non-lasting humility was not enough to change my pattern of behaviour. Self-importance and selfishness always took the driver’s seat, and there I would stay unhappy.
So when I began to attend meetings and hearing the message of recovery I had to accept that my way wasn’t working. A much more happy, real and useful way of life was so blatantly put in front of my eyes. Self-will battled all the way but the actions of the twelve steps worked in spite of my thinking! Having to look at where I harmed others in step 8, at my resentments, fears and sexual conduct in steps 4 and 5, I could truly be honest with this. I could also see where the way I was doing things always led to – pain for me and for others. Steps 5 and 9 forced me into a realisation of other people’s life experiences being real and important. It was no longer all about my own selfish ends, others had come into view more clearly than before.
Thinking of others was something new to me. Had I been asked if I thought of others’ needs as important before, I would have said yes, but my actions said otherwise. So I set about to have other people in mind from now on, especially when sharing in meetings. Sharing the message better each week was an easy idea to have – hearing that my shares and attitude weren’t all that and left a lot to be desired, was a harder thing to realise. That says one thing to me: all my “selfless motives” were driven by ego not humility. If I’m so offended when I hear that I’m not sharing the message effectively then my ego is under attack. Humility had to prevail in order to survive myself. In order to not drink. In order to be useful, in order to stay happy. I had to open up to advice of old timers, listen and truly listen. Be aware of when my ego is jumping to defensiveness and anger, open up to opinions more important and experienced than my own, just like when I first arrived!
I just practise humility in order to form it as a habit. If I don’t there lies dangerous water as resentment is the number one offender. Humility means I tell my sponsor my embarrassing moments and fears, step 10 thoroughly and honestly, be open to change and listen to advice, do service, pray, work, think of others, work with newcomers. Humility’s really needed. Needed to go through the steps and for growth. It was always needed for the life-changing experience of AA. At first I must really force humility it seems through the grace of god of my understanding. I’m given more humility by the actions I take. Being open, happy and free of the self which would have kept me in alcoholic insanity for years or took me to an earlier death. Free of hurting others, free of emotionally abusing my family and friends. I must say it’s still a steep learning curve but through growth my life is more satisfying than ever and I’m grateful for it. The promises say the most satisfactory years of our existence lie ahead after all.
Rationalisation is old behaviour. Listening to the rationalisations and procrastination on correct AA action is old behaviour. It’s arrogance. The rationalisations are still there, but to listen to them, notice them and then “take the action anyway” has been taught to me:
“Get in late and I’m tired I’ll do step 10 tomorrow”- do it anyway.
“I’m busy and don’t feel like I have time to do service” – do it anyway.
“I’m feeling self-centred so I’ll help next time” -do it anyway.
“I’ve meditated so my morning readings are unnecessary”- do it anyway.
“I don’t really get along with that newcomer so I won’t talk to him” -do it anyway.
“My behaviour in meetings isn’t good? “ – change it.
How I feel isn’t as important as the work itself and when the work is done is often the most peaceful and content I will ever feel. Funny how that works.