Coffee Shop Steps
I’m sitting here at my normal coffee shop – I’ve been working on a list of my assets, which comes immediately after the list of character defects, as part of Step Six. It’s brilliant how we’re asked to do the things we’re asked to do, in the order that we’re asked to do them. From the depressing, to the uplifting. It’s like walking out of the pool because it has become too cold, and stepping into freezing cold air, and then returning to the pool because the water’s temperature is now appreciated. It happens a lot, for me anyway.
As I sat here working away, a couple of things happened to me:
- I was becoming depressed. The list of character defects is a large, granular list. When looking at my resentments and finding the character defects, of which I was sure would be next to nil, I was surprised to see the number grow as large as it did.
How horrible a person I must be!
- I began to realize that the number of assets, which I was doubting realistic, became larger and more certain. I was surprised yet again to see the number grow as large as it did.
I am these awesome things, aren’t I?
The granularity of the two lists would eventually nestle together nicely, drawing a picture of who I really am – the man I’d both feared, as well as the one I revered.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; these steps amaze me. When I was in the treatment center, of the bits and pieces that I can actually recall, one thing that I do remember is telling a counselor that I thought the 12-Steps would be good for anyone, in any walk of life, for anything in life. I don’t recall exactly what the counselor said, but I do remember that she agreed. That was one of the reasons I always wanted to get through the steps – just not with AA. Don’t worry, I’m not going to AA bash; I’m beginning realize where I’ve been wrong in my thoughts and doubts about AA. I wish I had arrived to this conclusion over two years ago.
What I didn’t realize about the steps was how much more I would find when they were properly applied. For this to happen, I needed guidance. At a glance, I could look at the steps, mentally go over them, and know I’d completed everything. It was a cinch! What more was needed?
In my case, it was a spiritual connection, and the aforementioned guidance. The spiritual connection came in the form of meditation, which was preceded by the Native American class where they asked a question in a way that made me STOP! and think.
First, it was Step-3: The Native American 12-step program asked, "Was I willing to make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the God of my understanding?"
Was I willing to give up control, and let something I’d come to believe didn’t exist, run my life? Could I decide to let this “thing” take control of what I could no longer manage and actually stop this madness I had no power over?
It was this line of questioning that began to shake my pillars. Maybe I was not ready to move forward on this step! I didn’t even know if there really was a GOD! How could I decide to turn my life over to nothingness? Was I just supposed to let this imaginary God-Santa-Clause run my life, without me having any control?
But they explained to me, it was not just about God, it was also about being “willing.” I didn't have to do anything else but be willing to decide. After that, all I had to do was simply let go, and allow it to take place.
It’s the AA Meditation meeting that brought me to the next step, or should I say previous step. And yes, it was necessary to be in this order – Step-3, and then:
It was Step-2 – Had I really come to believe that a Power greater than myself could actually restore me to sanity?
Just believe it could restore me? Not know it could or how it could, nor even why; just believe that “something” more Powerful than I – could.
The problem here was that the “God” I knew as a child was angry and pissed off at me, ready to send me to a hell of the most frightful vision, and I was TERRIFIED of going there. Why would this same God give a shit about saving my ass after letting me go through Hell to begin with?
The question to me was actually less, “Is there a God?” It was more like, “Who’s God is the right one?”
One of my great friends, AF, had sent me a meditation one day, followed by the statement, “This is the meditation that changed my life.” I’ve mentioned this before, so again; meditation wasn’t new to me, I’d been doing it for about two years at that point, and I loved it. But I was not ready for what I was about to go through that evening as I sat for an hour, meditating.
When I was a kid, I used to always question how there could be so many different places on earth that would pray, pray with their hearts and souls, to a god that they understood, and yet it was “my God” that was right – so everyone else was going to go to Hell? Just for believing in a different god?! How fair was this?! I didn’t like it! It angered me! This “loving God” that I was told about wanted to send everyone to Hell unless they believed exactly as I did? Even if they didn’t know about my God?!?! None of this made sense!
It was easier to leave God, since I knew I was going to Hell anyway; but I was so scared of going to Hell, I never stopped praying and fearing for my future afterlife.
It was this meditation, Surrender to Love, that put me into spiritual alignment. I would have never become aligned had it not been for the meditation group that AF started. I wouldn’t have questioned it unless the Native American group made me rethink the step work. Believe me, I can trace all of this back now. The meditation reinforced what I had always wanted to believe as a child; any one person that is praying with their heart to a god that they understand to be the creator and life force of the universe, was simply praying to the exact same god as all the rest of us. The God. Not your god, their god, our god, my god. The Mother God, the Universe, the Creator. God. Higher Power. If it is greater than me, then that is where She/He/It is at.
This crumbled my pillars. I'd decided to believe.
Now – what about getting through the steps? Not racing through, but getting through? Thoroughly, completely, and wholeheartedly?
AF and ZJ and other friends in the program have reminded me, on several occasions, that there is a timing that is beyond my control, and that when it is meant to happen, it will happen. Not before. Not after. Only when, and how; both beyond my control entirely.
I had two and a half sponsors before my current one. They each were exactly as I needed them to be at the time they were, just as my counselors were when I needed, as were my treatment center friends, and my activities group friends, and all those different groups, from AA to Buddhist to Native American to Yoga to the treatment center to counseling… I can’t even list them all, and the absolute amount of gratitude that is flowing through me right now is so over whelming, but I don’t care – the people here in the coffee shop can just continue chatting, and I’ll discreetly dry the creek one drop at a time.
I'm actually being guided now, by my current sponsor. This is what I wanted all along, but I was not ready for it until now. Why? That could be an entire blog on its own, so I'll simply say that I just wasn't ready, until now. My sponsor is having me work through these steps, and explaining things to me as I ask. As I ask. Stubborn, "I can do it myself" me, actually asking.
This is where I know that this is real. This is when I understand that things are happening. This is why I realize my life is changing. The 12-Steps.
I have to finish, pack up, and head home now. My brother will be heading to work very soon, and I need to be home to watch my nephew. So until tomorrow, I bid you all a heartfelt, loving, “Aho.”