Yet, for others it's clear that alcohol is their primary addiction and for them maintaining sobriety must be a huge challenge. My brother, bless his heart, has been clean and sober for 17 years. And at yesterday's meeting my SIL was awarded her 16-year sobriety pin. Everyone there spoke very highly of her, saying how much they admire and are inspired by her honesty. How great it was to be there, filled with respect for both of them!
Once a person has been sober for a while, feeling whole and sane again, not gripped by the need to drink, their life back on track, it must be easy to slip out of the program. Yesterday's meeting, however, was filled with long-time-sober folks who are working the steps, dealing with character issues that lead them into alcohol addiction, issues that still affect their lives and are always a threat to sobriety. The meeting topic was Step 6, We're entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Ten thoughts I had while listening to others talk:
- Defects of character sounds so horrible, yet I know I have them and can name a number of them.
- Listing my defects of character happens in step 4, which is where I am at the moment in the OA program .
- How can God remove them? Why would God remove them?
- Would I be a genuine, whole person without them?
- I want to fix it myself. I want to identify and then remove my character defects all by myself, no help needed, thank you. I can do this. I think I can, I think I can.
- But I couldn't stop overeating by myself. That is a fact, proven over and over.
- I'd be more accepting of step 6 if it were worded differently, if it said, We're entirely ready to have God help us remove all these defects of character, leaving us somewhat in control of our own destiny.
- To turn it all over to God? Well, that's a concept I resist.
- Not there yet, I'm only working step 4. Maybe by the time I get to step 6, the concept will have grown on me.
- My will be done/Thy will be done.... that is the conflict.
What came to me in the meeting as a certainty is that following a food plan and remaining abstinent from my binge foods is just the tip of the ice berg. Yes, I feel much more sane. Yes, I feel more peaceful and less resentful since I began working the program six months ago. Yes, I've lost weight, am more healthy and more fit. Yes, yes, yes!
Yet, like the alcoholic, my underlying character, my unresolved issues, my lack of faith threaten to undermine progress and send me back to food for solace. I accept the challenge, with a nod to my brother, SIL and other participants in yesterday's meeting, of working the AA/OA steps as best I can, with the realization pointed out by my SIL yesterday that I can work the same steps over and over, each time learning something new, each time finding new levels of peace.