Thursday, February 17, 2011

“Step Eight: Love”

(This blog is eighth in a multi-part series, “Thoughts On The Steps”. This series is not a guide on how to work steps; steps can only be worked under the guidance of a sponsor. The twelve-step program is a spiritual program; it teaches us how to live a spiritual life. Working each of the steps gives us the chance to practice a spiritual principle. Whatever your particular fellowship, the Steps are the same, as are the spiritual principles behind them. These are my thoughts on the steps and on those principles.)

Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

We hurt people. Period. You can’t be an addict/alcoholic without hurting others. Actually, now that I write that, I find myself thinking that you can’t be a human being without hurting others. It’s a part of life; it happens. Those of us with the disease might have more extreme examples of it, or we might not. Not all of us are murders, rapists, and thieves. In fact, most of us, the harm we have caused isn’t nearly so dramatic. But that isn’t the point.

Step eight parallels the fourth step in a lot of ways. It’s a step where we make a list. This time, instead of listing out our resentments, we’re listing out specific things we’ve done wrong. Then we ask for our higher power’s help again, practice more Willingness, until we find the strength within ourselves to own up to what we’ve done.

There are lots of different types of Love. Romantic love, love between friends, between family. Step Eight calls on us to practice a type of brotherly Love--a term I hate, by the way, because of its male-specificity--which is a love of your fellow human being. It challenges us, too, to better love ourselves. We have to decide that we are worth it, that our commitment to the program and the rewards it brings are worth the struggle of continuing on and deepening our commitment.

In the Big Book of AA, the Promises come after working the ninth step. That’s not a coincidence. But in order to get to those promises, we have to work step eight first. At this point in the program, we’re practicing all the principles we’ve been learning at once. It takes everything the first seven steps have taught us to do the eighth.

A lot of us don’t want to do the eight step. Some of us block out the ninth, pretending that it doesn’t exist, just in order to make the list required of us in our eighth. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. I try to remember something along the lines of what I tell myself in the fourth step: I’ve already done this; just write it down. I’ve already caused this harm, done these wrongs, just write them down.

We bring ourselves further into alignment with who we really are. We deepen our commitment to Honesty and Integrity, and in so doing we deepen our relationship with our higher power. We continue to look at ourselves, own up to who we have been. It can be so difficult. It takes a LOT of Willingness and a LOT of Humility. But in the end, it’s just one more step towards who we really are as we have been created.

No comments:

Post a Comment