Monday, June 9, 2008

touchstone

Last Thursday, I wrote about the role of pain in working steps 6 and 7. At the end of the post I stated: "Hmmmm. I wonder how much pain it takes to get there. I'm sure I'm going to find out."

Yesterday, I suppose, was an educational day. My spouse and I kept on butting heads, all day long. (I'm sure her version is very different than mine.) We had tried several times talking through a problem we were having and it always ended up the same. She walks away mad and my resentments are building even bigger. By late afternoon, we agreed just not to talk. Much safer that way.

Let me tell you that I felt very justified in what I was trying to say. My resentments were showing me that I was in the right. That we needed to work through this issue. I wasn't about to bend. My sponsors words kept going through my head, "Do you want to be right or happy." I kept on ignoring him. (It does amaze me how his words keep coming up in my head, even if I don't look for them.)

I knew I was being a stubborn, self-pitied, ass-hole. I knew my character defects were fully exposed, in control. The defects were creating problems for me and for my partner. I remember at one point thinking that if I have to accept these defects then so can my partner. That really helped her.

I went to a meeting last night. I was so happy that the topic wasn't steps 6 and 7. I was tired of them, tired of my defects, my powerlessness, my lack of acceptance, my growing resentments. So the topic at this meeting (which I rarely attend, since it's a long drive) was step 10. And what did we read there?

"It is the spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us."

"But in other instances only the closest scrutiny will reveal what our true motives were. There are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified conduct which was really wrong. The temptation here is to imagine that we had good motives and reasons when we really didn't." 12 and 12, step 10

Seeing ones own motives seems to be tricky, elusive thing. I mean, I really did want to resolve this issue between her and I. If I take a long hard look at it, it really was just about me. I want her opinion to be the same as mine. I could not accept and allow our thoughts to be different. I wanted to be right. Plain and simple.

At the meeting last night, there was an old timer there. He's been sober over 50 years. His wife passed away a couple of years ago. He spoke that even with all those years of sobriety, the isms always came up. That in dealing with alcoholism, the home was the most difficult place to practice the program. He spoke of acceptance.

One last quote from step 10 from the 12 and 12:

Even when we have tried hard and failed, we may chalk that up as one of the greatest credits of all. Under these conditions, the pains of failure are converted into assets. Out of them we receive the stimulation we need to go forward. Someone who knew what he was talking about once remarked that pain was the touchstone of all spiritual progress. How heartily we A.A.'s can agree with him, for we know that the pains of drinking had to come before sobriety, and emotional turmoil before serenity.

If you'll excuse me, I have amends to make.

2 comments:

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

You have an amazing way of seeing how the Steps are not just theoretical statements, but real insights on a healthy way that one can choose to live one's life.

What I find most touching, as the spouse of an addict in recovery, is seeing when a bit of enlightenment happens for you and you (almost) seamlessly integrate your new understanding of and appreciation for the hard earned step into the Here and Now of your Life at that exact moment. I am thinking in particular of the boating trip a couple of weeks ago and then this example here. My heart bursts with pride and compassion for you and your journey.

Namaste.

indistinct said...

... giving you the pieces of your heart back ...

Thank you, those were kind words. I find a measure of peace in knowing that the lessons of AA come into my thought stream when I am struggling. They seem to come on their own.

Not that I always listen to them. Struggling is what I seem to like to do, so some lessons take a while.