Friday, February 21, 2014

Step 10: Daily Accountability
Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.

Step 10 Reading

So, here I am in step 10 now and as I said in this post, this is where we start speeding it up so we work all the steps every day immediately.  It's where we start taking a daily inventory.  Taking steps 4 and 5 every day for every day.  It is no longer about looking back because we have already taken care of everything in the past and let it go.  It's about now.

In step 10 we start watching ourselves carefully throughout every day, taking any negative thought or feeling to Heavenly Father immediately.  Our desire has changed from holding on to the negative to desiring peace.  The goal is to have an open heart and a mind focused on the Saviors teachings all the time.

I used to think that when I got to this point in the steps I would be fixed and no longer be making mistakes anymore, but that is not what step 10 is about.

It says in the reading "You will continue to make mistakes as you interact with others, but a commitment to step 10 is a commitment to take responsibility for mistakes."

I am not perfect and I am not going to be made perfect in this life.  I will continue to mess up.  I will make the same mistakes over and over because of my weaknesses.  But the difference now is that I am more aware of my triggers and I am more aware of how to stop my mistakes from building up and becoming overwhelming.  I can take responsibility immediately and regain peace.

An important part about daily inventories is journaling.  Now, I still haven't bought a new journal, but I have began using a notebook because I have just. got. to. write.  I'm sure I'll get a nice fancy one again sometime soon.  For now I'm dealing with it.

Here's the plan:
Morning prayer consists of motives examined and a daily goal.  Something like to keep my temper that day or to follow the spirit.  Something like "today I will accomplish these tasks and maintain a positive attitude."

Then throughout the day, I am constantly checking myself.  Am I maintaining balance?  Do I still feel serenity in my day?  Am I avoiding negativity?  If I find a trigger, acknowledge it and immediately take a time out to apply the tools in the steps and regain my peace.

At the end of the day I have an evening prayer where I examine my day and hold a council with the Lord about where I've fallen short and what I have accomplished.  What have I achieved?  What can I do better at tomorrow?

If we take accountability like this daily, it no longer builds to threaten our abstinence.  One question the reading presents that goes really well with this is here: "Am I true?"  We must maintain complete honest with these questions and make self-corrections.

Another favorite part of the reading for me is this: "You will learn to value progress and to forgive imperfections in yourself and others."

Progress.  This is most important.  No one is expecting perfection.  Just progress.

I had a conversation with my husband recently (Yay!  He's progressing!) and we talked about how when we are making real progress we have a way to catch ourselves before the temptations can overpower us.  As we have been working the steps, we are getting to know ourselves and our weaknesses enough to recognize our triggers.  We can stop ourselves in the very thought process before temptation even begins.  At that time, we can do whatever helps curb us from the negativity escalating, whether it be calling a sponsor, another support person or friend, or doing something to keep busy and productive in a positive way (jogging, writing, praying, cleaning, creating art, playing with kids, etc. etc.).

At this point is where we see how the steps really work!  This is why we take the steps in the order we do.  This is why we must be patient with the steps seemingly slow progress.  Because in the end there IS hope.  Incredibly, there is a way to someday be able to pin down those little incremental things that lead up to the slips or relapses.  Now we can find hope in knowing there is another more healthy way to deal with triggers.  It is possible.  Don't give up.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Filling Up My Journal, Missing a Meeting, and in a Rut


My journal is full.

And I need a new one really REALLY bad.

Journaling is so important to recovery progress.  I can attest that my thinking is broadened and deepened when I am writing things down as I ponder spiritually about things.  So with the steps, I always write down my thoughts as they come.  Re-read my thoughts, and write down more thoughts.  Thus, I fill up my journals.

Using the little places in the Recovery book works too but for me there isn't enough space.  I need lots more space!

My husband?  He writes one sentence in response to each question and can't think of anything else, moves on, and then gets frustrated because he isn't really making progress.  That's because you really have to deeply think about your personal application for each question.  Don't just give the Sunday School answer to the questions.  Apply them to your life, your past, your present, your everyday habits.

I also missed group this week.  *sobs*  I really need to learn how to be more assertive!

So I have Relief Society tonight, and so I wasn't going to go to my usual Support Group meeting.  Instead I was going to drive yesterday to attend the Addiction Support Group a little farther away.  But I had a visitor over yesterday and when the time came that I needed to go or choose to miss, I wasn't assertive enough to tell my visitor it was time to go home.  Instead I let her stay for pizza with my family.  This little visitor of mine is a young girl and her mom texted me asking if she could come home but I didn't read the text until an HOUR later!!!  She had texted me just before I had decided I would miss the meeting.  If I had read the text it would have given me an excuse to send her home right away and get a move on to my meeting!  But no.

But with or without that text I should have been assertive enough to say I had a place to be.  This morning I wake up regretting that decision and missing out on that meeting.  Maybe I'll call and find out from my sponsor how the meeting went last night.  I know it isn't the same.

Part of me wants to just go to tonights meeting and miss Relief Society, but I have already told others I am going to be there.

Again, though, this is my excuse: "Someone else needs/wants me somewhere else."

Why do I always give in to what I feel others expect from me?  I honestly believe people would not be offended if I were to stand up and do what I need for ME!  Because it's the healthy thing to do.  I can't only do what other people want me to do all the time.

I really must learn how to do what's best for me sometimes.

I've read about this before.

"When people with a compulsive disorder do whatever it is they are compelled to do, they are not saying they don't love you - they are saying they don't love themselves." Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

Then added to that by Melody's The Language of Letting Go, "Yes, at times we need to be firm, assertive: ...when we need to convince others and ourselves we have rights. ...Help me find the balance between assertive action taken in my own best interests, and love for others.  Help me understand that at times those two ideas are one.  Help me find the right path for me."

I read that only a few days ago and now here I am.

I feel like my lesser addiction, to media, is also giving me a run for my money.  I've given in and sat around to watch some dumb tv show that is pointless instead of doing more important things.  And of course I don't feel any better.  If anything I feel worse because I just wasted that time being idol and lazy.  It puts me in a rut because then I don't feel the enthusiasm to do anything and the cycle just begins again.  More media.  More wasted time.  More guilt and self-loathing.  More discontent.  More media.

I have to break the cycle and choose to do something better instead of turning again to media.

I think maybe I just need to choose a big project to tackle and focus on to win back my productivity.

I DID send out a couple letters for my Step 9, to make reconciliation to a couple people.  That felt pretty good.  I'm hoping things will go well with that.  But, since I've done that I really need to get on my Step 10 now.  Which will probably boost my Daily Accountability.  Which is what I need right now, when it comes to this rut I've gotten myself into.  Daily Accountability will help me to go moment by moment again and choose the best things and not just the good or ok things for me to be doing.  Priorities.

But I need a new journal!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Step 9: Restitution and Reconciliation

Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.

Step 9 Reading

When it comes to taking the step to reach out to other people with your apologies, it's important to remember not to be impulsive but not to procrastinate either.  Personally, I have a tendency to jump into things too quickly because if I'm going to do something I usually feel like I just have to go do it before I forget or put it off too long.  So I'm naturally the type of person who jumps right into things.  Because of this, in my past I have usually dug up dirt a lot more then necessary with people.  I've apologized, then apologized again.  I think people get sick of hearing it from me.

So for the first couple times I've done this step I was really not changing much about my usual habits except for trying to pray a little more about how to talk to people about things that were still bothering me.

In one way, this was good.  But this time as I approached step 9 I had a realization that hit me hard.

I looked back at the list of people and the little notes I wrote to them but to myself, and I realized that most of them had already heard me tell them these very things.  Why was I still bringing this stuff up?  Do they really need to hear from me about this stuff again?

Realization #1: I need to forgive myself for these things.
Instead of approaching these people again, I decided to write another letter to myself with these events particularly mentioned so I could put it behind me.  I needed to let these things go.

Realization #2: I wasn't forgiving other people.
As I began Step 9 another person's name came to me and as I added them to the list, the fear of approaching this person was stronger.  I found myself asking myself why I was feeling the need to apologize, and REALLY asking.  I felt the figurative curtain being pulled back from my underlying motivations and realized that all my life I have actually used apologies as a tool to get an apology back.  I recalled times in my younger years when I would use just the right words to get the other person to feel guilty or sympathetic towards me so they would cave and apologize to me or at least show me pity.  I was disgusted with myself.

Realizing this made me realize I hadn't been forgiving these people.  Step 8 comes before Step 9 for a reason, and that is to forgive others FIRST before going to them to apologize.  Because if I have really forgiven these people already, then when I'm apologizing I have no other motivation then to just apologize to them.  I've already forgiven them, so I don't need them to apologize to me.  I don't even need to tell them, "I forgive you for..." because that is only digging things up again.  I can keep that part to myself.

So after thinking about this for a while I returned to my list of people, and began taking names off as I began forgiving myself.  After doing that my list only had a couple names left and so now I'm going to approach only those ones.

The Lord has His own timing for this stuff.  Sometimes you might feel like things have taken way too long for you to let them go, but it might just be the exact time for Heavenly Father's plan.  Things happen the way they do because if they did not, something wouldn't be right.  I truly do believe that the Lord puts things in our path when we are ready for them.  He gives us countless opportunities to do things and if we take those opportunities we are blessed.  If we don't take those opportunities, he gives the opportunity to someone else.  But that doesn't mean we don't get another opportunity later on.  I believe that the steps really give me an opportunity for more perspective.

Maybe the steps aren't for everybody.  I've recently read a post where a wife of an addict talked about how she didn't feel the steps were for her.  I respect how she feels.  You should do what works for you.  However, I know without a shadow of a doubt that the steps can work in some way for EVERYBODY.  This woman said she thought maybe the steps aren't for her because she is already doing these things every day.  She's already repenting and using the atonement in her life.  Great!  I felt the same way when I started the steps.  But the steps bring in a new way to contemplate the atonement.  It provides little areas where we can each do a little bit better.  And to me, that's worth a try.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Purpose of the Steps

As I work on Step 8, I noticed it is like another inventory, similar to step 4, but instead of an inventory of my inner self, I'm making an inventory of things outside of myself.  "Making a thorough inventory of our resentments & acknowledging them to our Savior."  It's about honestly letting go of offenses that have made me embarrassed, uncomfortable, or ashamed in any way.

I used to get a little confused with what the difference was between steps 4 and 5 and steps 8 and 9.  This time around I'm actually seeing how they are a little different but they are also the same for a reason.  As I contemplated the wisdom in taking the steps in order, I began to realize the main goal that we reach for when taking these steps.

The steps work from the inside out, much like that quote from Step 6: "The Lord works from the inside out.  The world works from the outside in.  The world would take people out of the slums.  Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums.  The world would mold men by changing their environment.  Christ changes men, who then change their environment.  The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature...May we be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, choose to follow Him, be changed for Him, captained by Him, consumed by Him, and born again." (Ezra Taft Benson in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 5-6; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6-7).

In Steps 1, 2, and 3, we are internally submitting to the Lord and making personal decisions with the Lord to trust and follow Him.  Step 4 is my self evaluation where I examine my internal attitudes and intents, and Step 5 puts that into greater light by bringing it out where someone else can see it.  Step 6 and 7 are about reviewing steps 1, 2, and 3 at a deeper and even more personal and life-changing level.  Submitting even more to the Lord's will and changing our hearts so we are really becoming His.  Then in steps 8 and 9, we are evaluating the external effects from my behaviors or how others have been impacted, then bringing that into greater light for other people to see and forgive.

Then we get to the fun part.  Step 10 takes all of Steps 1-9, wraps them up and says "Do this every day."  PHEW!
Then Step 11 adds the Lord's guidance and direction in again, to keep you always following His will every day.
And Step 12 is the continuation of the process with the addition of sharing testimony to support and guide others' efforts and be a missionary to bring others to the Savior in this life-changing way.

For the first time, I am completely grasping the goal from using the steps: To incorporate the repentance process into our daily lives in a genuine and heartfelt way so we then no longer take weeks to go through these baby steps, but can develop this as a new-found habit to turn to the Savior immediately, take responsibility for our actions, and return to His way.

That really does take a complete change of heart.  That is why these steps work.  That is why after we have taken steps 1-12 truly to heart and really applied these things to our lives, we have had a spiritual awakening, and can completely heal and change into a true disciple of Christ.  The steps work.