Last night, after posting about my emotions at the quilt gig, I found myself suddenly in a big argument with my husband over something that happened 4 years ago and still festers. We've hashed IT over several times, always thinking we've understood, forgiven and accepted each other again.
Well, last night, IT reared up again and got really ugly for a while. We were both angry and upset, although we show it in different ways. He seethes, while I explode. Once again we aired the wrongs of the other person. Once again we were full of resentment and frustration.
Was there anything different for me? Yes, maybe a little. I cooled down more quickly and was able to identify some of my own faults regarding the situation. I was also able to apologize for my angry outburst and for my mistakes. This cooled him down and opened him to join me in the problem solving mode. We went to bed, finally, feeling better about each other and with some plans in place for dealing with a similar situation which is looming ahead of us next month (which triggered the old stuff in the first place).
I never would have thought of the small changes, the awareness of my own mistakes, my own responsibility for the problem, and my willingness to apologize as "working OA's 12-step program," except for the surprising email I received this morning.
One of the members in my small OA group had read yesterday's post about the quilt gig. Below are excerpts from the email:
My name is _____, and I'm a compulsive overeater; and I'm so proud of you.You are such an inspiration!
Many with our disease would have given up and gone into a full-blown binge that might have lasted anywhere from days to weeks or months. Instead, you looked at your part in the situation and made a list and then faced the emotions you had felt.
Many with our disease then would have punished themselves by following the diet mentality of turning to a more strict food plan. Instead, you realized that the issues were emotional and had nothing to do with the quality of your food plan. You then looked at where you had not followed your food plan and used your spiritual tools to move back to your current food plan.
Many with our disease would have given up again and declared, "You see? OA doesn't work any better than any of the other gazillion programs I've tried." Instead, you said, "I'm making progress, but am not perfect. So I'm choosing to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again."
Now here's the coolest part: Whether you realized it or not, you worked the steps.
Step 1: Oh darn, I'm still powerless over food and my life at the quilting event was unmanageable and food at home wasn't wonderful either.
Step 2: I remember from my OA meeting that there is a power greater than myself. I just forgot to ask that Higher Power for help this time.
Step 3: I think I'll ask HP to help me now.
Step 4: Here's an inventory of the events and emotions that brought about my behavior, here's how it affected me, here are the other people who were affected, here are the defects of character that led to me falling off my food plan, and here is how it all affected my self-esteem and fears.
Step 5: Okay, blog followers (including my current sponsor), here's what happened. Oh, and by the way, I'm putting this out there for you to see as well, HP.
Step 6: Here are the defects of character that I exhibited and I'm thinking about them.
Step 7: And since HP already knows what those defects are from step 5, I'm considering being willing for HP to remove them.
Step 8: I know the people I affected, and I'm thinking about whether I did them any harm in case I need to make amends and move on to step 9.
Step 9: Regardless what I decide about other people in step 8, I know that I hurt myself by dealing poorly with my emotions and self-esteem, and I will make amends by starting over again and trying to use my tools more consistently.
Isn't that amazing? Isn't it astounding how the program works? Again, I'm so very proud of you. You are such an inspiration!
Wow! Thank you, _____!!!!
I'm so blown away by this message... I just had to add it to my journal. It helps me in so many ways, besides the obvious way of being very supportive and encouraging. It helps me most of all to have a more clear idea of how to work the steps or of how to apply them to daily situations. I love it and am so grateful, because this part of OA was still quite a mystery to me. I couldn't see anyway for me to consider anything but Step 1 and possibly Step 2.
Although I can't really take any credit for working Steps 6 and 7 in yesterday's events, the rest of it rings surprisingly true. Makes me feel good.
Plus, thanks to the email, I now look at my part in last night's argument and see some progress toward working Steps 6, 8 and 9, unconscious though it was. This is good. Never too old to change!