Step 6 and 7 I have heard called the "forgotten steps". For me this takes on a whole new meaning as I see each and every character defect working in my life and keeping me sick. I choose to hold onto those old patterns of thinking to keep me safe. When I feel fear I look to control. When I feel bored it's the lack of self care that comes up. If I feel controlled it's the dishonesty or self seeking. These are all feelings which I don't want to feel so I look to the character defects to help me to deal with them. Sounds just like what I used to do with food! So when examining this step my sponsor asked me some really valuable questions which we will review later. The biggest one is "What's the payoff of these behaviours Dawn? Or you wouldn't have held onto them for so many years."
In the review of my Step 5 some major themes jumped out at me. These were: dishonesty, lack of self care, self seeking and control. In each and every part of my Step 4 the themes replayed themselves. I lied in order to be more popular or so I thought. I didn't care for my physical self by putting myself into situations that were dangerous; from driving while eating and bending over to get that last fry that fell in the passenger seat, to sleeping with men who were emotionally unavailable at best and dangerous at worst. I was self seeking in my quest for power and success at work; buying bigger cars and taking more extravagant holiday. I was controlling around my marriage, my work colleagues and my family. I was the centre of the co-dependent, love addicted love triangle my whole life with my father and his new wife.
So what was the payoff? It was familiar. It was "safe". It was easy and not out of my comfort zone. I was a professional at being all those things.
But what was it costing me? My life, my freedom, a healthy body weight and the self respect and love I deserved.
So each and every day I work in these defects of character. Have they all been removed? Am I some miraculous saint? A big loud: No!. But I am a beautiful work in progress and as the OA 12 and 12 page 57 states, "As we had to "hit bottom" with our eating behaviour, so we now need to hit bottom with each of these traits." I have hit a lot of bottoms and I know that I can only do this with my HP's help.
Became entirely ready -
I giggle when I read page 53 of the OA 12 and 12 "Ok God I'm ready". I picture myself hands in the air wearing my best dress on stage acting dramatically. "I'm ready for my close up Mr. Deville"
You see I thought that becoming entirely ready was down to my own ego. By the time I finished Step 5 I thought I deserved to have all these defects removed. I didn't realise it was a whole life change. I had to adopt an attitude of humility and as they say in the readings,"We had to adopt a whole new attitude to life."
Becoming ready for me is not down to when I am ready. It's down to working with others and observing them, adopting an attitude of humility and it becoming painful enough to let go of a defect that is causing me pain. You see after a while all those character defects no longer help me anymore they keep me from a whole living experience and make me very very ill. Sure I can be abstinent and still be a controlling self centred dishonest woman. But wouldn't the world be a better place if I weren't?
To have God Remove
So I've determined that I am powerless over food. I've determined in Step 2 and 3 that there is a force out there that is greater than me that can help me with this stuff. Now I have to go through the same process with these defects? Can my HP really be bothered with a bit of lying now and then? You betcha! You see only God can see all my character traits and loves me for them. My HP wants me to be free of them so I can be closer to him and others. I've tried to swear off lying. (and lie off swearing!) I've tried to be honest. I've bought fancy clothes to cover up my lack of self care. But it never worked. It was only by showing up to meetings, listening to how others work this step in their daily spiritual practice that I realised that they were handing these things over and God was removing them in his time. Not mine.
These defects of character
My sponsor and I don't use the word defect in this step. We call them coping mechanisms. You see I can use this word in this step to keep on eating or practising these traits. That's because I read it like I am defective not that I have coping mechanisms that I used to keep myself safe and they don't work for me anymore.
So in working this part of the Step I examined why I did what I did. Why was I dishonest? Why did I not care for my physical health? Why did I try and control? Each of these things were ways that as a I child I kept myself sane in an INSANE situation. You see my parents, and later the partners I chose were abusive. I needed to be dishonest and lie in order to get attention. I also never had a female role model growing up so learning to take care of my body and love myself was completely alien to me. Why did I control? Because life was out of control at home so I controlled in my adult life to keep safe.
After working this step the why of it all was out on paper for me to see. Self knowledge abounds these days but really it doesn't matter what the reasons were then. Now these coping mechanisms aren't working. I am not defective I just did the best I could.
Once again a gentle set of reminders of how I worked this step that may help you:
l Select a home group (this can be on-line, on email, in person etc.) and attend meetings regularly and share about your step work and your feelings.
l Get some numbers, email addresses of people you can speak to and share with.
l Get a journal and write down your feelings around this step. I am a great procrastinator and tend to put things off. Journaling helps me.
l Think about asking someone to be your sponsor if you don't have one. A sponsor is like a kind older brother or sister. They are a bit further down the road and they have what you want.
l Work with that sponsor on what comes of this step work. They are a great source of inspiration, clarification and support.
Read Step 4 in the OA 12 and 12 page 53-58
Share your feelings around this what you have read with your OA home group(whether on line or in real life), this step group and a trusted friend or sponsor.
Questions Part 1
l What are your fears around doing this step? List them. - recycled from the 5th step but still very relevant!
l On page 53 of the OA 12 and 12 it explains the difference between saying we are ready and being ready. What do you think are the differences?
Working the Step
Ok looking at your 5th step and the Effects My column what are the major character themes you see appearing again and again.
With the help of your sponsor fill in the column in your 4th Step marked Step 6&7 entitled Defect/Coping Mechanism?
NB: Sometimes this step can be a bit of a challenge as there is no "defect" which equates to being abused. No one had a right to hurt us. But often we use coping mechanisms to keep ourselves safe and these follow us through life and appear again and again. My brother is an example above. I have "kept" myself fat for a very long time in order to feel power and never be abused again. This old coping mechanism of control doesn't work for me anymore but it kept me safe when I was a child.
Questions Part 2
l How does fear play a part in your defects of character?
l What is the "pay off" for your character defects?
l What is the cost to your life, relationships, career and abstinence of holding onto them?
l How do your character defects keep you from your higher power?
l Do you think you can remove these defects with a change in behaviour?
l Do you think your higher power can remove those defects?
l What is the key message in Step 6?
NO magic pills or potions here. We have to be willing to have God remove the defects of character even the ones we WANT to keep a hold of.
I will share some hope around this Step. I remember lack of self care being so evident in my step 6 and in my recovery I have really learned how to take care of my body. I wear makeup now and ask for help in dressing appropriately. I also do my hair and nails. I really care for myself and I am learning to be more of a lady everyday. By writing down these examples in my Step 4 I was able to see how powerless I was over this coping mechanism and in God's time become willing to have God remove it.
I love this piece of wisdom from another step study so I will cheat and share it!
"As we work this step, we begin developing a vision of the person we'd like to become. If we have been selfish, we probably have a vision of becoming selfless, maybe by helping another addict find recovery or by some other act of selfless giving. If we've been lazy, we may see ourselves becoming productive and reaping the rewards of our efforts. If we've been dishonest, we may have a dream of the freedom that can be ours when we no longer have to spend so much time worrying about being found out. We want to get from this step a vision of ourselves and a sense of hope that we can attain that vision."
Beautiful huh? So by giving up these defects we are more able to become the person we have always wanted to be.
Ok now we've done this.... let's do a step 3 prayer, the serenity prayer and move onto extra credit.
These questions are gathered from various places but helpful for me:
l What choice character defects would I rather keep?
l What harm is it doing to me to cling to these ways of thinking and acting?
l Do I still believe in the process of recovery? Do I believe I can change? How have I changed so far? What defects do I no longer have to act on?
l For each defect listed: What feelings do I associate with this defect? Am I trying to suppress certain feelings by acting on certain defects?
Walking with you,