Blog Archives

M(3), 10/20: Tabula Rasa

 

I feel inadequate.

As hard as I try, I do not feel like I can ever really convey the camaraderie, the empathy, the shared pain and shared joy that comes out of the simple 60 minute gathering of individuals every Monday morning.  But, of course, I will continue to try…

Today’s meeting focused on the tenth step in our 12-step program:

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

In practical terms, this step asks you to look at your thoughts and behaviors on a regular basis, and correct as needed.  The most common application of this step occurs at bedtime, looking back at the day and seeing what went well, what went wrong, and what needs to be fixed.  Certainly, though, self-examination can occur at any point in a day, as many times a day as needed.  In times of emotional distress, a quick “spot check” can often be the perfect remedy.

Step 10 is my personal favorite, and the regular practice of step 10 has yielded one of the best gifts in my sobriety:  the gift of honest introspection.  One of the simplest ways I put step 10 into regular practice is what I call the common denominator theory:  if I am aggravated with 3 or more people/situations at one time, then I am the common denominator, and therefore I am the problem.   I am also fond of pointing out the common denominator theory when it applies to others (especially my children, and you can imagine how much they love this).

A newer way of looking at step 10 has presented itself to me through a series of events:  the idea of starting in the present and moving forward, rather than feeling like every past situation needs to be resolved before I can find peace.  This is a concept that intrigues and excites me:  imagine if you could just take a relationship that you value but is fractured or filled with resentments, and simply start fresh at this very moment with a clean slate?  All past resentments and issues are wiped clean, and you have nowhere to go but forward?  For an Irish Catholic grudge holder like myself this is a novel concept, and one that will take much effort to put into practice, but the various God moments that have happened for me surrounding it make is a worthwhile project, and I will let you know how it goes for me.

From here the meeting took a number of personal turns:  a woman with a year of sobriety shared her story for the first time at a meeting.  She expected to feel empowered by this; instead she felt insecure and wobbly, and found her thoughts turn to alcohol.  She was so distressed by this thought process, she needed to share it with people who understood, and therefore came to the meeting today to “tell on herself.”  Happily, she was with a group who understands, and had a line of people waiting to speak with her at the meeting’s end.

Another woman, this one with decades of sobriety, has a speaking engagement of her own upcoming, and even after all these years, sharing her story, and public speaking, remains the most terrifying aspect of our 12-step program.  No matter how far along she has come, that negative self-talk rears its ugly head when it comes time to share her experience, strength and hope, and that negative self-talk tells her she has nothing of value to say.  The good news is that she knows what to do with these feelings, and that is to come to a meeting and share them with us, and in shining the spotlight, the dark thoughts are forced into the light and exposed for the fraudulence they are.

From these two stories all the following attendees piggy backed, and talked of the various insecurities they have that relate, and how talking about them helps to dispel the power those insecurities hold.

A few seasoned veterans brought it back to talk of the personal inventory, and reminded all of us to focus not only on what we need to fix, but also on all that we have done right in a given day/week/month.  We are often too quick to look at our mistakes, but what about all the wonderful things we have improved upon in our recovery?

That being said, I will focus on all the great stuff I am able to share with you, rather than bemoan all that I may have missed.  Hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday!

Today’s Miracle:

I promised some pictures of my son’s birthday dinner, and then I got too busy serving and forgot to take any really good shots.  The first two show the set-up of the rooms before the crowds descended, and the last is one puny shot that fails to convey the delicious glory that was fried chicken!  Everyone left with a full belly, and my son had a fantastic birthday weekend!

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