Though in Some Cases (Step Eight continued)

Though in same cases we cannot make restitution at all, and in some cases action ought to be deferred, we should nevertheless make an accurate and really exhaustive survey of our past life as it has affected other people.  In many instances we shall find that though the harm done others has not been great, the emotional harm we have done ourselves has.  Very deep, sometimes quite forgotten, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness.  At the time of these occurrences, they may actually have given our emotions violent twists which have since discolored our personalities and altered our lives for the worse.

A really exhaustive survey.  I guess I will make a list and check it twice.  Really, it should include every significant person in my life, ever.  In each case I think I know, but I know I should give it more thought, that every character defect of everyone ever has played itself out in my relationships with others.

I don’t walk around screwing with people, I really don’t, and I never have.  Mentally, I just can’t draw any kind of meaningful line.  It seems to me that one of the most important and most painful lessons I have to learn as I go on and get better is that I cannot weigh, prioritize or judge sins of mine and sins of others and say which is worse, which is better, which hardly needs to be counted and which cannot ever be forgiven.  It’s difficult to think about without going overboard on both sides of the pride line, judging myself to be better than most or worse than most and never really getting close to the universal truth of us all being equal.

Things from the bible come to mind.  The plank in my own eye makes me incapable of seeing the splinter in the eye of someone else.  I might burn the wheat with the chaff.  Don’t judge others and I will not be judged.  If my right eye offends me, I should pluck it out.

I’m not a heavy duty Christian, and I recognize that those are one rendition of sort of universal truths.  They are very useful to me because I’ve been exposed to them over a very long period of time.

I think that what I’ll do is attempt a list, keep it as a draft, and see where it goes and what I want to do with it.

I am not looking forward to this AT ALL.  I was just reading a newly begun recovery blog where the author is hoping that after 20 plus years of sobriety, he wouldn’t use this fact as a defining element of his life and self.  I’ve written about it before, but to me part of the miracle of 12 step recovery is when it actually becomes something you do want, that you do value, that you wouldn’t trade for anything.  After 20 plus years of sobriety I have a life worth living and more than I ever could have imagined for myself.  After 20 plus years of sobriety I’m again looking at doing something hard and painful and unpleasant because I have seen the results, and the payoff in my life and in the lives of others.

No pain, no gain.  That’s true, and things that are worth having are worth working for.  And “life ain’t no crystal stair” (Langston Hughes).  And fortunately, or unfortunately, I am driven largely by the pleasure principle, and I would not continue if it wasn’t worth it.  AND each day from May 1, 1984 until now is a gift to me from the program.  I would not have them had I not had it.  And 20 plus years from now I hope it is still the defining factor of my life.

And (note to myself) I need to come back and write about violent emotional twists before I move on.

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