The Powerful Tool of the 10th Step – Mel H_Oct 2019

I really liked reading the letter last month written by Bill W. about emotional sobriety. I’m grateful AA has evolved to the point where we understand the process not only helps us stay sober, but can help us be happy.
I’ve experienced the phenomenon of being “stark raving sober”. It can feel almost worse than being loaded. I got loaded somewhat to moderate my feelings. Hank W. used to say he drank to drown his feelings, but they learned to swim! When I quit, I was faced with my feelings un-adulterated. It isn’t always pleasant. I think those of us with time in recovery owe it to newcomers to let them know our emotions are going to be raw, sometimes. The good news is we have an outline for living that can help us through it. I try not to go into the gory details during meetings, but I’m grateful to hear others are struggling with life on life’s terms. I imagined people who had been sober a while were some kind of spiritual giants, when I was new. Then a guy shared he was still a burglar, and he was better at it! It was starting to bother him, emotionally. He disappeared shortly after that. I hope he’s doing well somewhere.
I went to a meeting at the Prison for quite a while. I was trying to carry the message, but what impressed me was some of the “old numbers” who had used the program to come to terms with themselves. They were making the best of their situation. Some of them had earned degrees and were trying to help each other. To …this day, I don’t like to play spades. I associate it with sitting around getting loaded, in and out of jail. That was usually along with complaining about our “public pretenders” not doing their jobs.
One aspect of the 10th step I’m talking about in this context is that when I get upset or out of balance, I end up harming myself. In the 12&12 it talks about the first thing I have to do is calm myself. I’ve had situations where I hadn’t really hurt anyone else, but I was still upset or frustrated. When that happens, I owe it to myself to examine what’s going on. That’s the only way I can see which part of the Serenity Prayer I need to plug into the situation. Through the process of personal inventory, I’ve been clearer about some of the decisions I’ve made. This has helped me to live a more happy, joyous and free life.
I wish I could say this comes automatically. I’m definitely a work in progress, but I’m considerably more balanced than before. I’m very grateful for that. I’m grateful we don’t have Graduation Ceremonies in AA. Sometimes I can take my birthdays too seriously. Luckily, I can hear my mind, and know it isn’t always my friend. I can pause when agitated, and try to see what the next right thing would be. I can focus on some of the dysfunction in others, but I need to remember I have a full plate of my own issues. Thank God for the patience of the old timers when I came around. -Mel H.

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