Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Searching and fearless...

 April is the 4th month, hence a focus on Step 4, the searching and fearless inventory. In the 12x12, on page 52, in a section they must've just added since I don't remember reading it before, Bill suggests we "carefully consider all personal relationships which bring continuous or recurring trouble." Hmmm - that would be all of them pre-recovery and many since! He points out that our insecurities "may arise in any area where instincts are threatened," the old "instincts gone awry." Yes, my instinct for safety and security definitely led to decisions based on self that later placed me in a position to be hurt. 

Lila R, who we follow in our monthly Step Group, believes that with long term recovery, the only person on our yearly inventory should be ourselves. If I'm cleaning up as I go along, there shouldn't be any lingering resentments. Are there certain political figures and positions I dislike? Definitely. People I'd rather not spend time with? Oh yeah. But the beauty of long-term recovery and being true to myself means that I can (usually) choose where I spend my time, and I can balance news that is certain to cause outrage and news that increases my faith in the human race. 

This year, I intend to approach my inventory with a plus and minus column - not just focused on what I do "wrong" but what I feel good about, what I may have accomplished, along with any lurking insecurities and fears, asking if they're realistic or boogey-man fantasies. 

In a recent meeting, someone shared that they write a letter to their fear, naming the what and the why. Years ago, that exercise was suggested at a workshop, with the instruction to write to our fear with our dominant hand and respond with the other. I'd just met my now-husband at the time, and as we grew closer, my fear was that he would go away. I wrote that, sat in silence, then let my non-dominant hand write the reply, which was long the lines of "You know what to do when they leave. What if he stays?" Apparently my fear was pointed in the wrong direction. 

At this stage of life it is all about letting go of the illusion that a) I have some sort of control, b) that I can foresee the future and c) that people (including me) will live forever. I don't need to know the ending of a story before it even begins. I can appreciate those around me, knowing with each passing day, each news of someone else dying (a classmate, a friend's husband, a long-time AA member...) that it can never be too soon to tell someone they matter, but it could very well be too late.

We attended an in-person Speaker Meeting this past weekend - Don L of Bellingham, Washington if you ever get the chance to hear him. Great message, and I'm not sure I'm ready for a full return to the masses. Speaker meetings often remind me that AA itself has different applications, different niches for different people. There are those who go to 1 meeting a week, and those who attend daily; those who work with newcomers and those who are more available to the medium or long-timer; conference regulars and speaker-meeting/circuit speaker groupies - there is room for all of us. 

I tend to vacillate between full-in and allowing space in my program - the old suggestion (Biblical??) to wear the world like a loose garment. I do many spiritual things, things that hold meaning to me, with Program being just one. The important thing for me is that I have a framework from which to meet the world, with the 12 Steps as the foundation.

Brazilian writer and journalist Fernando Sabino (1923-2004) wrote, "In the end, everything will be okay. If it's not okay, it's not yet the end." This sends me back to last week's quote about stories beginning and ending with the word "and." It, this life, is about the flow from one experience to another, big and small. Morning coffee, pre-dawn walk, kid graduating from college, taking a trip, not taking a trip - it is all okay in the end, the beginning and the middle.

My temporary co-workers gave me a gift, flowers and a nice card, along with kind emails from the higher-ups, as I wind my way out of the job. I'll go in a few more days to train the permanent director, wanting to set her up for success. I am grateful for the experience, and am grateful to be (nearly) done. Six months ago I would never have foreseen this brief return-to-work episode, which is yet another reminder that all I really need to do is suit up and show up and pay attention to what is in front of me to do, or not to do. 

Where are you gripping tight to the illusion of control? What might happen if you let go? Are there fears that you might address in a letter? What do you think they'd say back? Are there things going on in your life that you wouldn't have imagined a year ago? How can that knowledge help you surrender your need-to-know today?

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Check out the post from Feb 4 for a sample of the 78-page workbook, "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" now available in PDF or hard copy. Email me at with any questions.  

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