SIXTH STEP

6th stepI am slowly making my way through the steps.  I started AA about a year ago.  It took me quite some time to find a sponsor.  ( I did not know you had to ASK someone, I thought someone would just offer.  FYI to any newbies.)

My year has been complicated to say the least.  We have been up and down the east coast numerous times.  My son moved to Illinois in January, and two weeks later my mother lost her battle with lung cancer.  To say I have been distracted would even cover half of it.

I have been on the precipice of the Sixth Step for months, but every time I started, another distraction would arise, and it would get put on the back burner.

For the past week, I  have allowed my sorrow and depression about my mother to flow through me.  I have done nothing but go to the gym, shower, put my pajamas back on, get in bed and binge watch “Shameless”.  Between episodes I was working on an inventory of my character defects, and contemplating my progress moving through them and working toward spiritual and mental health.

My life is so much better sober.  I am amazed every day at how the things that used to derail my piece of mind are easier to handle.

So here it is what I have done in the past year of clear headed sober thinking.

Letting Go:
I think my biggest accomplishment to date is letting go of all of the emotional junk that I had been carrying around about my mother.  It was freeing to forgive her, and realize that she did the best she could with the limited tools she had.  I have also realized that my perception of our relationship was completely different than anyone else’s.  I never thought she loved me, but talking with my brother and seeing the realtionship through his eyes, I was very wrong.
I am working very hard at letting things go.  This includes arguments with my husband, son, daughter, actually most everyone.  It gives me a sense of lightness.
Perfectionism:
This is an ongoing challenge.  I am making an effort at not being so rigid in having and doing everything MY way.  It was a lot easier in Florida because it was not my house therefore I had no emotional investment in how it appeared.  I am find it more challenging here at home.  I am making small steps.  I have stopped cleaning up after my husband, no matter what mess he leaves.  I just look, shake my head, and walk away.  I am changing up the days that I change the sheets.  I used to always be Saturday, now I am moving it around, I still haven’t gotten beyond a week without new sheets, but baby steps. (This is very uncomfortable).  Wearing mismatched running socks, and not ironing something before I go out.  Taking myself out of my comfort zone as much as I can, just to what I can do and if I can do it.
Criticism and Negativity:
Thinking before I speak.  Big one.  Trying not to pick apart everything and everybody.  When my mind whirls into negative thinking, I drag it back, tell it to shut the fuck up, and remind myself of something good and positive.
Now:
Keeping myself present.  Not worrying about the past or thinking about what might happen.  Again, when I find myself thinking that way, I drag myself back to where I currently am.  I am hoping it will soon become a habit.  It helps that I don’t have as much to worry about anymore.
Higher Power:
This one still amazes me, and causes me wonder.  I am still slightly skeptical, but I am leaning more toward being a believer of some guiding force.  Too many things have happened that I was praying for. My son got a real job before the February move out of the house deadline, and seems happy.  My mom lived to see the Patriots win the Superbowl.  She died quickly and painlessly, just as I had prayed for.  She has sent me two signs that she is okay.
 These two things happened so quickly, and almost simultaneously, and I didn’t drink.  I wanted to when I was moving my son, I actually planned it out.  I was going to drive from Illinois to Tennessee and drink the entire liquour cabinet when I got home.  The 9 hour drive home gave me plenty of time to roll that plan around, and I decided to finish out my day sober, and reconsider it the next day.  A good nights sleep, and seeing things with less emotion the following day erased the thought completely.
Drinking never crossed my mind when my mother died. Not once.  I would suspect it was numbness and shock, my brain wasn’t really functioning with any emotion other than abject grief and shock.  There was no room for booze.
 In fact, since I have been back from Florida, the triggers and cravings seem to have disappeared. I am sure one will come again, but for now, having all this other emotional stuff going on, it is kind of amazing to me I haven’t had the urge to pickup a drink.
Some of the little things, I am working on.  I am learning to sleep with light in the room.  I know that doesn’t seem like a big thing, but for me it is huge. Having suffered insomnia as a child, I have created all these rituals and complete darkness is one of them.
I am relaxing about not exercising every day.  That used to get me very agitated. I am trying not to micromanage my sons life. I make suggestions, but not frequently.  I am not micromanaging my husband as much either. (This one is hard.)  I am leaving dirty dishes in the sink OVERNIGHT!!  And in the month of January I did not buy any shoes, I have had an epic fail since then, 3 pairs in one weekend.
I spent last week in bed every afternoon.  I was upset/depressed about my mother.  I decided on Sunday, enough was enough.  She is still going to be dead, and my lying in bed in my pajamas isn’t going to change that.  I have determined that I am going to get back to my usual routine, and if I get sad, just go with it, not crawl into my hidey hole.
I still have a lot to work on.  When I think about this program, I realize, that we are the only humans walking around that are actively working, every day to be better people.  I still have a lot of work to do.
My associate sponsor asked me to chair a meeting.  So I think I will do that, in two weeks.  That is outside my comfort zone.  I get hives when I have to speak to “large” crowds, but I already have a topic in mind.
 Progress not perfection.

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14 thoughts on “SIXTH STEP

  1. I love this post and can relate to so much in here. I find with the changing of the sheets that I can’t go more than a week either but you know what there is nothing like the feeling of climbing into that clean bed. Well done you the progress you are making is amazing!

  2. I’ll admit that the part about dirty dishes in the sink and not changing the sheets made me cringe. Dirty dishes make me gag and not changing the sheets means no sleep for me. In fact, the most romantic thing my husband does for me is change the sheets on Saturday morning before I get a chance. He could care less but he knows how important it is to me.

    You do what you have to do to grieve your mom. I too found release in forgiveness of my mom. They did the best with what they had.

    Awesome post –
    Sherry

  3. Remember that Steps 6&7 are done quickly after 5 and usually within an hour. Now, having said that, 6&7 are done for our whole lives. They are the “forgotten” steps and yet are the most powerful ones for me. There is a great book called “Drop the Rock” that talks about these two specifically.

    In step 6 all I am doing is just being *willing* to have Him (or Guiding Force – love that one) to remove the char defects. And here’s the thing – the things you *think* are char defects may not be char defects at all! And the things that we think are fine may be the opposite. In Step 7 we humbly ask Him to remove them – and we don’t really get the choice in what He removes! The great thing, and you are already doing this, is to act AS IF the char defects (like perfectionism, etc) have been removed. So we act our way into good thinking.

    Anyway, I think what you are doing is wonderful, and I love this post. Honesty, forthright and positive.

    Thank you for this.

    Paul

  4. I don’t change my sheets every week, I think I do every 2 weeks, but I have a 2 person bed for 1 so I change sides. But I sometimes do change after 4 or 5 days when I have had bad dreams in them and I don’t want to go back there. Not criticizing your decisions here but I don’t see anything wrong with changing sheets every week. But I come from the other side of the spectrum: lazyness when it comes to cleaning is more my thing, so…

    By the way: on Facebook I have a little club of people who answer funny poll questions for me. I did a 12 questions thing on socks, testing peoples ability to wear socks with holes, mismatched socks, wearing left- right socks right-left, ask them how many orphan socks they have…. etc. Some people are very adamant when it comes to sock habits. 🙂 I hear things like: ‘We should not want to wear mismatched socks…’ Ghegheghe :-). (Agreed!) Some people really get tense and a little upset. 🙂

    And that while actually wearing mismatched socks is in fashion again for 2-4 years. You can google it and there are companies that sell mismatched socks. The last time is was in fashion was around 1350 – 1400, the Gothic period with the high waisted dresses, pointy hats like a child would draw a princess. And man in tights – with different coloured legs. That could well be the fashion trend that has taken longest to resurface. 🙂 Asymmetrical trends are always difficult. People don’t like them easily. I think there is something within us that says that it goes against nature. 🙂

    • I am still changing my sheets every week. That is something I will never be able to give up. As far as the Sox thing it was just an anomaly. Not something I will do regularly. I would love to be a part of your funny facebook group. Tell me what the pages that would be interesting. Interesting stuff about the mismatch socks too. Good googling.

      • 🙂 You are very welcome to my facebook group but it is all in Dutch and I guess I will loose my readers when I change to English so that would sort of have a strange effect on the purpose 😦
        Google is good for a lot of things. 🙂

      • Yeah! And I am lucky that I don’t have to throw out a guy when doing that at night ;-). That is a good question for my group though! I sometimes have forgotten about a dream totally and then, when I step into bed the next evening it is there in all its details again. Hmmm… wonder if more people have that.

  5. Big hugs for the loss of your mother. I had the same experience when my dad died. I was stone-cold sober the entire time. The rest of my family left hospice each night to go home and drink. I stayed there with my dad and told him stories late into the night (I’m certain he heard me), and listened to him breathe. I didn’t want to fog it up with booze.
    You are doing great on the perfectionism front! I live alone. OK, not alone, but with three cats. I fear if I had a husband and children, I would have an awfully big list of annoying-things-I-do to work through.

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