There is a Solution. Well, What is it Then?
There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 25)
For those of us who have struggled with the devouring monster that is alcoholism/addiction, these words offer some level of relief. For those around us who care about us or love us this is a glimmer of hope. There is a solution to a seemingly impossible problem. There is some kind of hope where there seems to be absolutely none whatsoever.
Before going on I think it is very important to include those of us who do not see things as that desperate. Those who think; “Yeah, I have a problem, but it’s not that bad.” The kind of person who sits in their forth or fifth recovery program secretly thinking to himself or herself; “I am not as bad as all of these people, I don’t even really need all of this.” For you there is a solution too. If in fact you really are not that far advanced in your using, let’s get you to stop before you are. If you are that advanced and just lying to yourself (which you probably wouldn’t know) then there is a solution that will also deal with lying to yourself.
Here are a few details of what you must be willing to do to get this solution.
- Leveling of your own pride
- Confession of your shortcomings
The first is self-searching. Knowing what is really wrong with you is a key part of the proc
ess (although in and of itself it will not keep you sober).
We did exactly the same thing with our lives. We took stock honestly. First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 64)
The reason behind this is very simple:
Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 64)
So, part of our recovery is to search for the things within ourselves that are problems and to do whatever it takes to be rid of those things. We are to take an honest look at ourselves and be willing to take even the most extreme actions to be rid of the things that are not good.
A big part of doing this is seen in the Fourth Step.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 59)
It is not just a look at yourself that we are talking about, it is a “searching and fearless moral inventory” that we are taking of ourselves. The searching is not just a casual look that never drifts past your comfort level. Look at some of the definitions you find in the Merriam-Webster dictionary for search:
: to look into or over carefully or thoroughly in an effort to find or discover something: as a: to examine in seeking something
: to look or inquire carefully
: to make painstaking investigation or examination
You notice words like carefully, thoroughly, examine carefully, look into or over carefully, painstaking, etc. These are key.
The word fearless is also of great importance. Think of the fears as those things that are hidden behind such thoughts as: “This is stupid”, “Why do we have to look at all of this, my problem is using, not all of this”, “What does this have to do with my recovery”, and other such thoughts. Fear often disguises itself as seemingly logical reasons why you should not take an honest look at yourself.
Stop looking for reason not to take a good look at yourself and take a fearless, careful, thorough, painstaking, examination and investigation of yourself. That is the call to self-searching.
Second comes the level of your pride.
Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 62)
If selfishness and self-centeredness is such a problem than overcoming any pride (be it hidden or obvious) that is in your life is a key task for you. Those who are aggressively selfish probably know this about themselves and their recoveries. Those who are more passively selfish (like codependents and those that otherwise seem giving and selfless but underneath have other selfish motivations/expectations) this may be a bit harder to see about yourself. Again a “searching and fearless” inventory is a good place to clear up all of the mystery.
Last but not least is the third in that list: Confession of your shortcomings. In a basic sense this is broken down into two parts and really two levels in a Twelve Step Program. There is a more personal facing of these things and a more public facing of these things.
The more personal facing of these things takes place from Step 5 up to Step 7, but let’s focus on the Step 5 portion:
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 59)
After inventorying these things we sit with God, ourselves and another person not only to admit these things, but to search out deeper clarity on these things. But, why do I call this the “more personal facing of these things”? Steps 8 and 9 bring the more public facing of these things. Let’s look at Step 9 briefly:
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 59)
We go to every person we have hurt because of these shortcoming (not the least of which being selfishness and self-centeredness) and we confess our problem to each one. Here is the catch: It is probable that if you do not want to do some or all of these amends that you are so busy protecting yourself from discomfort that you have no concern for helping the other person/people feel better, get closure, begin to process etc. That really means you are being selfish and self-centered which, as we read above is a huge part of our problem as alcoholics/addicts. Not wanting to do this means you are stuck in your recovery and not recovering at this point.
Step 10 is really doing all of the things we have just talked about all of the time.
This probably all sounds like a really tall order. This may all seem like too much to do or the more subtle way of saying the same thing “All of this is not worth it.” That is what Steps 1 through 3 are all about (and also why they come first).
The problem is not how hard these tasks are, the real problem is how desperate you are to be better.
Drastic problems often require drastic solutions!
In describing Steps 8 and 9 in the Alcoholics Anonymous book the authors write:
Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 76)
At the beginning of recovery, you must decide that you are ready to “go to any lengths” for recovery. In other words at the beginning, you must believe that your problem is so desperate that you must be willing to do whatever it takes to get better, no matter what that means. That is true recognition of powerlessness and this is the beginning.
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 59)
This is the essence of Step 1 an I think the mindset is best described in one phrase in the Alcoholics Anonymous book:
We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 28)
So; recovery is going to require Self-searching, leveling of your pride and confession of your shortcomings which are very deep and terribly hard to do properly. The reason people do it is because they are so desperate to be recovered that it can only be compared to the desperation that a drowning person has for air. This is recovery for the hopeless variety of alcoholic/addict, but this is not a negative thing as many of us automatically think. The glass is not only half empty!!!
This is hope where there is no hope. This is the life preserver thrown at the drowning person. THERE IS A SOLUTION where there seemed to be none and although it may not be comfortable, it is worth it… GO FOR IT!!!
Stay sober my friends,
- Tolerance, Patience and Good Will (wadehrecoverynetwork.wordpress.com)