Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession. –Mahatma Gandhi
Hard as it is for me to believe, I am about to embark on step 4 in the 12 steps of recovery. For as long as I have known about the 12 steps, step 4 has always seemed like the most daunting of them all (although step 9, making direct amends to people, doesn’t sound like a joy ride either). But every other step seems feasible… painful and humbling… but within my power to do. The whole concept of writing down an entire inventory of my life seems beyond my personal scope. I can barely remember what happened a half hour ago, how am I supposed to remember my entire life?
And yet, I feel like the very answers I have been searching for my whole life will lie in the pages I am about to write. All my life I have struggled with one addiction or another, ranging from the harmless (computer games), to the destructive (drugs and alcohol), and many more in between. So the $64 question is: why? Everything I know about step work leads me to believe that the inventory in step 4, if done thoroughly and honestly, will demonstrate a pattern of behavior that answers that all-important question.
So, the pressure mounts, and, me being me, I worry about choking under the pressure. Fortunately, I am not in this process alone, and I have a wise and experienced guide who will ensure I am doing it the right way. I will be very excited to share my progress as I make it!
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others – Mahatma Gandhi
The last few days I have been reading and hearing a lot about the importance of service in recovery. As usual, the first few times I disregarded the signs… after all, I am so new to recovery, what could I possibly offer in terms of service? But, God is persistent, and He finally has my attention, so I started reading a bit, and contemplating. As it turns out, I have a lot to offer.
First, because I have more than 90 days clean and sober, I can, and should be, regularly looking to “chair” the meetings I attend, which means I sit at the front of the room and lead the group through the format of the meeting, sharing my thoughts and guiding others to do the same. This is an obvious component to service that I have overlooked.
But there are smaller, simpler ways that I can be of service that my naturally self-deprecating inclinations have caused me to disregard. Yesterday a woman was in the meeting I attended, and she cried through most of the meeting. I did not know her, and did not want to impose myself on her, so I went about my business. I gave a friend a ride home and happened to ask if she knew the woman who was crying. She did not, but she did know that the woman has been chronically relapsing, and was trying to get a handle on the program. I thought about her the rest of the day, and realized that I could have been of great service to her yesterday. I am very familiar with the idea of wanting recovery, but continually falling back into old habits.
Now that I have a few months, there are things I could share, things which would absolutely benefit the newcomer. It is time for me to realize I am not the newest member in the room, and that I have a responsibility to give back what was so freely given to me. This realization is, first, an absolute miracle, and second, an awesome responsibility, one in which I look forward to fulfilling. Stay tuned…