Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Conversing Sisters: Step 6, Removing All These Defects

Lisa & Me, circa 2013

This post is part of a series of writings I did with my sister Lisa, in 2012. Our thoughts and perspectives reflect a moment in time. They may or may not have changed in the passing years.

Step 6: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Lisa's Thoughts  

Step 6 is truly the step that separates the men from the boys. This is where I learned how I often seek comfort rather than character building. Previous to working this step, I often found myself in a state of reactivity. Without thought, I responded to situations in my life quickly and often harshly never considering that I had a choice in the matter. After working this step, I have come to know that there is a choice in everything I do.

There have been many uncomfortable moments in my life where I have chosen to be comfortable rather than stand in my truth and build my character. I first had to take a look at the big things - drinking, for example. I had to decide moment to moment whether or not I was going to live and stay sober or drink and die.

In the beginning, it was moment by moment, second by second. I would not drink for just that moment and somehow the moments become hours, the hours become days, the days become weeks and so on. This is how I have chosen to become entirely ready to have God remove my defects of character with action. It’s with every response- do I respond in love or in fear every time, moment to moment? At the end of a relationship, I am not ready to let go of, do I sit in it alone with God and heal? Or do I enter immediately into another relationship, so I won’t have to feel the loneliness and rejection?

You see, for me, this step is what I do next with whatever I am presented with. I haven’t always worked this step perfectly and, fortunately, later on down the road there is a step that helps with that too. However, I am aware today that I have choice.

I often laugh at the things I used to get all worked up about. How I would spend days and weeks festering over one little thing, reacting over and over. I have found such peace and joy in this step. Every time I am able to behave differently, even just once, I feel I am conquering myself a little more each and every day. There is such power in this step, and the more I rely upon it to work in my life the more miraculous my relationships become by simply doing one thing different.

Liz’s Response 


I want more!!  Love you!

Liz's Thoughts  

This step marks the halfway point in this writing project on the twelve steps and the halfway point for any alcoholic working the steps towards recovery.  It is significant then that a willingness, ability and desire (perhaps this is what is meant by “ready”) to allow God to work his miracle in your life happens at this point in the journey. I’ve experienced the first five steps as an awareness of who I am, where I come from, and the actions I have made that have led me to this moment in my life. It is suggested that by engaging in this level of awareness and accountability that I would be ready to have the defects of my character removed.

This is the first step that overwhelmed me, gave me pause and, for which, I had a physical response (a tightening in my chest). In reading this step, I came to really know and understand that the AA program is not playing around; it is playing for keeps.

I don’t always want to give up my defects of character. They are familiar to me, which gives me comfort because I know my place in the world with them. I have engaged with my family, friends, co-works and humanity with these foibles. I know how others respond to them and how to cope with that response. This has given me a level of stasis that I know I can survive in.

However, I don’t merely want to survive this existence. I want to thrive.

Therefore, I must we willing to lean into the discomfort of the unknown, to risk growth and progression.

In pondering this, I hear the words of actor and activist, Ruby Dee...

I find change really comes down to comfort. I will contemplate, intend and plan on change, but until I’m pushed out of my comfort zone, I will not engage in it with any real intent or vigor.  It is at these times of great discomfort I’m am able and willing to let go of my familiar friends.

Our Cousin Angela (therapist) advises me, in these moments, to treat the character defeat as a friend. I invite this friend over for tea, we have a chat, and then I ask it to leave. This approach works for me because sometimes my defects of character are also my coping mechanisms –coping mechanisms that have literal and figuratively saved my life.

It is a painful day when you realize the very behavior that has saved you in the past is the very behavior that is preventing you from further growth.

That is why it is beneficial to take a moment and honor the place it has held in your life (having a chat over tea) and then turn it over to God. I suspect if I have truly worked the prior steps, though this action may be terrifying and painful, with it comes great peace and space to grow into what you are becoming.

Lisa's Response


Yes Yes Yes!!!! Alcoholics share all the time about how their character defects were exactly what previously saved their lives, literally. I can so relate!! I had to manipulate, to an extreme, to get myself out of many life and death situations. It is still one of the ones I can’t seem to let go of.

I love that you shared that quote by Ruby Dee! It is so perfect for this step.
Thank you for all you do! I have so enjoyed this process.

Although, I do need to talk to you and get honest about some things I am struggling with…

I hate that I am not perfect sometimes or that my judgment is still that of an addict.

I love you!

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