A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Working The 10th Step

I've begun the practice of working this Step recently.  I posted in my last blog entry a version of it that I found on the internet, a list of 34 questions to answer before going to sleep.  I'm not yet doing it every night yet have still managed to do it for most of the week these last few weeks.   Ideally, a person should go through the 9 previous Steps to get to this one, but I have not done that yet and think that it is good to review my day and see where I have been getting stuck and where I've been getting freer and more confident.  This can be gratifying in that many of the questions show that I am in recovery fairly strongly, but also frustrating because I see more clearly where I am having difficulty every day I take the inventory and it's the same issues over and over again.

So for a few moments I feel badly about what I didn't do during the day.  Then I realize that those tough problems I need to turn over to God and trust that if I stay open and willing to learn that good changes will come.  But reviewing these problems most nights keeps the work I need to do in my awareness.  The discomfort of that is a part of growth.  I can do nothing unless I am aware of the problem, willing to acknowledge it as a problem, pray on it and let it go till the time comes when I can approach it and diminish it or remove it.

When I take this Step I am holding myself accountable to myself, to God and to other people.  I'm aspiring to be as good a person as I can be on most days of the week.  The most basic way to be a "good" person, a healthy person, is to practice rigorous self honesty.  When I am honest with myself I accomplish a number of things:  I stay aware in the present moment, I make myself vulnerable before the Higher Power allowing that Power to point me in a good direction, I reinforce a sense of personal integrity and responsibility or put more simply, I follow a spiritual path.  Self honesty for me is really the first step.  I can't admit to powerlessness or any of my weaknesses if I can't remain honest.  Honesty is the bottom line practice for me.  When you practice honesty, you can literally feel when dishonesty is creeping into your mind and relations with other people.  That discomfort can stop you cold and help you to return to the healing path.  Honesty safeguards your spiritual health.

Taking the 10th Step you respect yourself by acknowledging just what you did and didn't do that day, assessing what your thoughts and feelings were that day and seeing if you reached out to others to help them as a way to help yourself, too.  It is a self diagnostic test you freely take to build a better relationship with yourself and God and all the people you encounter.  Answering some of the questions will feel real good and others will feel bad.  The bad feelings are meant to raise your awareness level in order to prepare you for change in your life.  Positive change can happen when you learn to feel your feelings.  I have trouble with feeling my feelings, but this Step eases me into it, both the joy and the sadness of being human.

Before you can admit to being wrong in some action towards another, you have to first admit it to yourself, and when you do finally do that you simultaneously admit it to the Higher Power thereby getting the strength to admit the fault openly to the wronged person.  And when you open your mouth and apologize you become strengthened again by taking on responsibility for your actions and that is the core of making an amend.  It is not about being forgiven, though that is always a welcome response, it is about honoring your ability to recognize the truth and speak it regardless of the response.  It takes courage.  It is a discipline of love for self and others.

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