I shared my first step work tonight with a men’s group with whom I’m going through the twelve steps in a workshop. The purpose behind the journal writing and sharing is to connect with the progressive nature of our disease and the degree to which we became powerless over our addiction. Our stories show the level of unmanageability in our lives. We also spend some time sharing about how we came to realize the grip addiction had on our lives – when we hit bottom and surrendered.
I’ve done a lot of searching in my past to understand the pattern of my addictive behaviors — starting with sexual obsession and compulsion in my late teens and early twenties, progressing to dangerous and illegal drug use and more alarming sexual acting out at the height of my addiction. With recent work in the last 6-8 months, I’ve begun to understand some deeper events and losses in my middle school through college years. How I responded to these emotionally and spiritually laid the foundation for some patterns of behavior and coping mechanisms which became more and more engrained in my life. In identifying these events, and the unresolved grief, pain, fear and sadness I felt a sense of self-awareness and insight I had never experienced — even with years of therapy, spiritual exploration and more recently, with 12-step self-help work.
I got a lot of good feedback from the group on my sharing. I mediated some before my sharing and asked my Higher Power to help me connect not only with the events and stories, but with the feelings and emotions. I’m seeking to live a life that is more integrated and authentic, knowing that my feelings in fact are a way to identify that which is alive and real inside. The group felt this connection. They also could relate to the progressive nature of my escalating behaviors – the increasing risk and deepening loss of self.
But, the most profound and serious comments came around my self-awareness. The good news is I’ve invested a lot of intellectual energy and time into understanding my past. And in my recent therapy and journaling, I’ve discovered these unresolved events from my past — and I’m learning new ways to feel my way through them, and bring closure. But, the danger in this road to self-awareness is I confuse it with the path to freedom. The path to freedom is nothing of my own doing. Sobriety is a gift from my Higher Power. It’s through the mystery of divine grace that I find freedom – not through human awareness. And for this educated and intellectually inclined addict, with a sense of ego and competitiveness — it will be very easy to confuse the two and fall back on my own efforts, my own sense of strength, my own sense of power.
Therein lies the fallacy. It’s not my power — it’s my powerlessness.
Therein lies the risk. It’s not my will — but my willingness.
Therein lies the mystery. It’s not my strength — but my weakness.
Lest I forget, I wanted to capture the lessons from tonight. The insights are helpful – but the question is not why. In fact, there is no question. This is a program of action, not understanding. I don’t need to understand how it works – I just need to work it.