Forgiveness, and Other Heavy Fare

The elevator to Sobriety is out of order.

Please use the Steps.

The topic at my home group last night was “honesty,” although the man who brought it up spoke of having a hard time forgiving his mother. He’s the same one who, at times, says he cannot work the steps because there are people he cannot forgive. Little by slowly, we who see him week to week, or several times a week, see him accept, a painful inch by a painful inch, the principles of the program.

Carole and I also knew him a bit before he came to the program. He and his spouse, actually, came to our wedding three years ago. He’s a really good guy. He’s interesting in many ways, and I feel I can’t really write about them, because to do so might blow his anonymity with people who know me who read this blog. I will say that although he hasn’t come around for a long time, newcomers are often drawn to him, and he gives them help with things like rides to meetings when he can.

I have written here, probably too much, about my mother. I have an OK relationship with her, but it’s not excellent. It never was. Honestly, I feel that my mother really wanted a daughter and appreciated me muchly until I was about nine years old, and wanted to wear jeans rather than Bonwit Teller clothing. I think she made some big mistakes. I don’t think she always did her best. She’s still very, often unnecessarily critical of me. Her drinking and taking drugs while criticizing others for doing so is comical, and sad.

On the other hand, having children myself has shown me that guess what? I don’t always do the best I can for them. The mistakes a mother makes are frequent, and sometimes they are very big and important. My mother does support me and my kids in many ways. She helps when she can. Really, I liked respected what she did with her life so much that I have done something similar, career-wise. She has also given me extremely good values in terms of being liberal, not discriminating, and valuing all people. And loving animals.

So last night I considered what I could say that would summarize the progress I’ve made and maybe help someone else just a step down this difficult path. My turn came up pretty quickly in the discussion, so I didn’t have lots of time to think about it. What came to my mind was a vigorous and thorough working of the steps, beginning at the beginning. As long as I didn’t fully accept my powerlessness over alcohol, I couldn’t even maintain a good sobriety. Forgiveness and difficult, deep concepts like that were out of the question.

But once I grasped powerlessness and unmanageability, I had to become willing to take direction and do many things I didn’t want to do. This comes to mind probably because this man, like I said, rejects most of the principles and only comes around very very slowly to agree to even try to follow the directions. Not drinking, and fellowship of the wonderful people of AA were not enough to help me down the road of really changing my character, deep down. No doubt many people continue on for many years not drinking and going to meetings, making sober friends and not much else. But I don’t believe they will make real progress with their spirit and soul in this way, and that is what my friend last night was talking about. Forgiving your mother is about as deep and fundamental as it gets for human beings.

After the belief that God, or a higher power has better ideas about how to proceed than you do, there comes the necessity of acting on that and really doing things differently. The higher power here can easily be the people of AA. I believe that. The collective people of AA, and especially people who have long, good sobriety, can help a person down the path of forgiveness and other heavy fare. As much as I try these days to steer away from beginning concepts when I share at meetings, last night’s question had no other answer from me than the Steps, especially One, Two and Three.

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