I am just a traveller through recovery. Last night that was more literal than normal. I'd been asked to speak at a meeting the other side of the county. It was a bit of rush to get there, catch the early train, Mrs F prepared with a meal ready cooked as I arrived in to serve immediately, my kids (kids!!! they are 16 and 21 but still my kids) helping with the washing up as I flew in and out the house like a whirlwind to be able to get to the meeting on time.
I'd been to that meeting some years back at a different venue and with a lady who sadly passed away some time back. I found the new venue easily - if anyone steals my car and thinks using the Sat Nav will provide them with rich pickings from my estate of houses they will be sadly disappointed all they will find is a collection of far flung AA meeting points! The meeting is now housed in a lovely little modern hospital - very comfortable and nice. There were a few familiar faces there, some I'd not seen in a while, others only last week and some faces I didn't know.
It was a Step meeting - they have one a month, so being April Step 4. I will as always advised say "yes" when asked to do a chair unless I really really can't but when I'm then politely told it is a step meeting my heart does I have to say sag a little. I'm not a paragon of any sort of virtue when it comes to the steps. I've had a go, several goes at them all, I live by them in various ways on a daily basis now but if you want an ABC instructional DVD on how to do them, I'm not the guy. But then I think again "To thine own self be true" - indeed and I tell it as it is for me, my experience which has kept me sober up to now.
I first tried step 4 "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves" in rehab, a life story guided by a workbook. I remember in the evenings after group sessions had finished and dinner cleared away but before we could get back into the dorms we would regularly talk about our step work in the workbooks. As I became one of the elders in there people would say "Is this right?" - What is "right" in AA step terms? I have no idea I do earnestly believe every person has to find the answers to the questions the steps pose for themselves. I knew my first effort as I did it was a pastiche as my head was full of madness still and I was really struggling to disentangle the fact from fantasy from rumour from wishful thinking! I had another go about a year later in my recovery, I tried a timeline as well to sort things out - all that showed me were big gaps where I had years where I could remember virtually nothing. I did the columns way in the big book as well looking at resentments and my defects - useful that one. But I hit a wall many have hit I think as well - for a while all the resentments paled into complete insignificance against just one - the one against me. Yes I hated me for what I'd become and done or not done etc. A friend talked about the "inventory" step 4 talks about - if you take inventory in business etc. you are looking at what is good in your inventory and keeping that and "taking stock of it" and identifying what is bad, no use anymore or an impediment to the good health of the business etc. So I needed to not just look at the bad side of myself but my good side too. That took time but I got over that and learnt a huge amount about it.
Recently something hit me that I realised was an issue and I've done a mini Step 4 on that particular issue. I looked at the underlying issues with it, my motives etc. I realised I was lying to myself and that it was clashing with the morals I aspire to live up to and decided to change my actions in that area - work in progress. This to me is how I live the steps, they are not done and dusted, they can't be for me, I work them into my life into the fabric of who I now am. I quoted Glenn Hughes on this where in his autobiography he says "I worked the steps, now the steps work me" - I love that simple statement about the programme. It is something I'll continue to aspire to.
Finally - chairs... like buses they are. I'm off to do another one on Friday again at a meeting I don't normally attend ... that luckily isn't a Step meeting or such a schlep into the sticks so my level of anxiety is less about that one... at the moment :-) I'll just be travelling through again ...