Besides learning a whole lot of about some of the stances on AA, I did want to spend some time talking about things I really did learn so far from my 4th step. I think the most important part for me was looking closer into my fears. For most of my adult life, I have lived in crippling fear. About 90% of that had to do with my drinking and how out of control my life had become. Looking at the here and now, through totally sober eyes, I realize that I still live in quite a bit of fear. Some of what came out on my list wasn't at all surprising to me, while other things just came to mind that I hadn't really given much thought or attention to since I became sober.
At this juncture in my life, I think I fear my expectations the most. I have always held myself to a high standard of living. I have these wonderful role models in my life who devote their lives to helping others. They are highly intellectual people who have achieved higher education, fulfilling careers, families, etc. I look at the people around me and wonder why I got so far off the path. These are all the things I would have liked to achieve but I spent that time of my life in darkness. Now that I am emerging from this darkness, I don't exactly know where to place my expectations. I can't tell you how excited I am to start down the path of grad school in a few months. I believe to that my career aspirations will be met. (I do love being a nurse, when I can be a nurse and not just a paper jocky.) I am on the path of meeting these expectations.
On a very different level, or maybe not, depending on how you want to look at it, I expect myself to always be walking the walk and talking the talk. If I plan to counsel others on getting sober with a particular plan in mind, I better be doing my own plan before I get in their faces about starting. I also expect myself to be competent right away which is pretty dangerous. No matter how much I think I know, there is still a lot to learn. I expect myself to continue to exercise my plans while working and going to school full time. I am expecting total abstinence from mood altering drugs. I expect big things now. I need to be careful though, because I can sabotage my own success by applying to much pressure on myself.
Another piece I was quite surprised at is when I jotted down "Happiness". I fear happiness. Hmmm....Maybe because I think I can only achieve happiness by the things I mentioned above which is scary to hope I can do all of it up to my own expectations (sigh...which is usually perfection). But more so, when I have lived a bulk of my life in paralyzing fear, anxiety and depression, happiness seems like a pipe dream. So, when it is sitting in front of my face, I don't exactly know what to do with it. This is a dangerous place for me also. I am the master of making stuff wrong when their isn't stuff wrong. Mountains out of mole hills, do they say? Yep, I can do that in a heartbeat. Even coming up on 2 years of sobriety, I am a little like a fish out of water when it comes to just being happy. Just being OK with the way the world is today. Enjoying my life and enjoying what I have around me. It's still a bit unfamiliar. I actually experience a little anxiety at times. I feel like I should be worrying about something or doing something....I get restless.
The last fear I would like to comment on would be my fear of making amends and completing the 4-8th steps. These are the steps that get really down and dirty into the soul of an addict. I have the chance to confront my demons, myself and others. A true opportunity to release some serious baggage. It's scary though. For one, I am actually scared to give up my resentments. I believe I spoke about these in a couple of previous blogs. They are comfortable and they can be instantly there when nothing else is wrong. Secondly, I really fear the reaction from other people. I suspect that most people will just be supportive, but I may be surprised at the reaction of some. I hate the person that I was doing the things I did to other people. I suspect that they sorta hated that person too. Even though I sit in front of them, stone-cold sober now, they may not believe my words or be at point of forgiveness. My head is starting to spin at the thought of confrontation like that. I sort of have an extreme need for everyone to approve of everything I do and like me no matter what. Talk about expectations out of whack, huh?
I am really fearful at this point of shutting down for a while. At least I am aware that I might be thinking about it. I am losing my grip with my Higher Power and exercising much more angry willfulness right now than I have in probably about a year. The conversations with my Higher Power are becoming more infrequent. I have no problem saying that once I let my Higher Power back in my life, I was saved from my alcohol obsession. It was the only thing that worked. Again, this is not everyone's experience, but it is certainly mine. Anger is a vicious monster for me. I latch onto it without regard. I let it consume me and dictate my relationships with people. I know I have mentioned before, it feels powerful and righteous. When I am feeling weak or out of control, anger is a motivation for me, right or wrong. I feel like I am walking on a fence right now. I need to stop walking the fence, make my choice about what I am going to do and follow through with it.
I have a whole lot left to learn on this journey. Despite the 4th step starting off on such a bad foot, I know I need to continue to push forward. I just hope I can start wandering back towards the light instead of the darkness that I feel like I am drifting back into. Be patient with me all, this is going to be quite the ride for awhile.