What can make life really hard for us, oftentimes harder than it perhaps needs to be, is us. For me, it would usually begin with negative conversations in myself. The conversations were so fast, so natural, so fluid, that oftentimes I didn't even bother to check in or on thoughts to make sure they were valid.
Besides, who was it that I was talking to as my "self?" Was it the AI of self, known as the ID, that aspect of self that was about survival? Was it my trauma or remembrances of disappointment that made me a defensive driver mentally and emotionally? Was it my anxiety and fear? Was it my addiction-mind that always expected the worst and so intentionally and rebelliously just said "Fuck-it," that magically led me into being recklessly wreckless?
Other things that were problems for me were things like procrastination, perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, and lack of awareness because I wasn't checked in where I was standing in reality. I was caught up in the circus of thoughts in my head, where there was something other than myself as the ringmaster.
Personally, I wanted the circus to stop. I wanted to get out of the circus tent. When I asked my sponsor how to do that, Bly said, "You don't. You're powerless over being in the circus tent. You don't get to get out. But what you can do is stop participating in the circus." Hearing him say that, I was stunned. People, my mom, therapists, psychiatrists, teachers, priests, were always promising that it could "stop" and I would finally have relief from that fucked-up sense of self.
Instead, what Bly, Mason, Larry, and others offered me was a way of befriending myself in such a way that being in the three-ring circus of my head would be as stated in the NA Basic Text: "As we grow spiritually and find a Power greater than ourselves, we begin to realize that as long as our spiritual needs are met, our living problems are reduced to a point of comfort. When we forget where our real strength lies, we quickly become subject to the same patterns of thinking and action that got us to the program in the first place."
Through patience, kindness, generosity, goodwill, and understanding what was and is most important in not only recovery but life, Love with L.O.V.E., everything changed. I wanted what they had to offer. Peace of mind and heart. The ability to smile and know it wasn't fake. That when the thoughts arose in my head to commit suicide, I wanted the experience of not having the follow-up thought about how I might do that. That's what freedom looked like to me in my 18-year-old head.
Step One for me was fully conceding and admitting to what my actual disease was and is. That I'm powerless over the negativity of the mind, and when I go along with it or try to do battle with it, I make my life unmanageable.
Step Two, I came to believe that Love is a power greater than negative thought and I could be restored to soundness of mind, though in truth, I couldn't recall when I actually thought or felt that way about myself.
Step Three was being committed to the principle that I could turn my action towards Spiritual principles such as hope, surrender, acceptance, mindfulness, healthy communication, faith, truth, love, compassion, positive action, sympathy, tolerance, patience, and that by following through, learning to apply those principles, the relationship with myself and others could get better, as long as I didn't abandon them.
Step Four was understanding what my values are. I gotta admit it was weird being 20 years old at the time and admitting I didn't know what my values were.
Step Five was through the objective support and conversations with others on my team of recovery, I could gain clear insight about ways I self-sabotaged and walked away from my values based on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual insecurities.
Step Six then became a deeper level of Step Two by being willing to no longer be divided about the true nature of my core character, that it has and will always be the Universal Identity of Loving Presence.
Step Seven was a deeper level of Step Three. It was having the unconditional love and support of my peers, pointing out when I was out of sync with spiritual principles and my values, and inviting me back into harmony and integrity with them.
Step Eight was understanding how, when I'm overly involved with thoughts and distracted away from my primary purpose to love people with goodwill and creative action, and not physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually present and solid, I can create tears in my relationships.
Step Nine is showing up, owning up, and growing up in my relationships so that I'm a reliable and consistent human, capable of truly growing together with others instead of apart.
Step Ten, for me is a mindfulness practice of constant vigilance and self-monitoring about where I'm located with myself and others. Am I located in my heart or my head? Depending on which is which drastically changes how I am as a person because of the wonderless things that the ID and thinking can and will still do.
Step Eleven has been consciously and intentionally being in conscious contact with my values and sense of Higher Power, a Universal Loving Presence.
Step Twelve is being of selfless service to anyone who is suffering and wants my help when asked, regardless of race, age, gender orientation, creed, religion, lack of religion, economic status, with or without health insurance, just being a stand-up human.
As a result, there is still the circus, as Bly told me at the beginning of my living. What's changed is my relationship to it. It has the appearance of being more dreamlike and small, not the raging monster that was going to annihilate me when I was a kid. It really is being fully whole and wholly free, instead of being selectively whole and partially free. And so, I'm not making my life harder than it already is. That's my experience, and I'm gonna keep it going because, as one of my closest mentors used to say, I love my life, and I want the same for you, whether you have that or not.
一Appreciation and Respect