STEPS SEVEN, EIGHT, AND NINE
Hi, I’m an ACA old timer. I’ve been a sober member of AA since 1975, but I was always a primary ACA. I learned Inner Child reparenting tools and explored using them with the Steps in 1984 to find and replace my “hook” to smoking cigarettes: tobacco-free since July 1984!
Here’s what my Inner Child says about Steps 7, 8 and 9:
“Humility” isn’t being small and compliant. It’s being courageous enough to tell the truth. It’s taking off whatever masks we’ve worn to please or to defy those “other people” out there and letting my HP have me, undefended, curious, enthusiastic explorer-child with scruffy knees and gentle hands. I look into the mirror. It’s a quiet pool, a forest place with sunlight sparkles on the water, wind sounds and a distant clatter of machines. I’m warm and safe!
The people who were my family of origin didn’t have this program. The harms they did were real. I don’t deny these or gloss over how my Inner Child grew up to be a fearful runner, convinced that my best efforts weren’t enough. In figuring out just how I’ve harmed those other people, then and now, I have to admit my damaged trust, my sense of being hopelessly outnumbered, my sullen attitudes. I sulk and sneer, give up. Before I found this program—twelve step recovery—I was powerless over all these “quirks,” my Laundry List, and I blamed my parents for the ways that I was stuck. That’s how I harmed them. And as long as I stayed stuck, my Laundry List suspicions, phobias, and distrusts got passed along, projected on the people in my life. That’s what I did. I didn’t have a program, so I didn’t have a way to change—but now I do!
Once I get this—that recovery gives me the freedom to change my outlook and let go of those old patterns—I feel compassion for those people I have blamed, because, just as I was stuck before I found recovery, I realize those people didn’t have a way to change!
This insight has been, for me, an end to codependency. If I’m not a victim anymore, I don’t have to blame those people. I see them as I was—lost, confused, defensive, fearful—and I forgive them, just as I forgive myself for all the stupid, shortsighted errors and mistakes I’ve made. Step Eight isn’t an effort, it’s a splash or healing light; it washes over how I see my world.
“I love you!” is the root of all amends, whatever the old injury or lack might be. “I used to misunderstand (fill in the blank), so I did/didn’t (fill in the behavior or belief), but now I want to heal this injury, as best I can.” I may not say these words out loud, but this is how I undertake to change how I behave. So far, so good!
Kathleen S., CA1312