After sharing my inventory in Step Five, I thought I was ready for Step Six, ‘Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character’. Not that I said it to anyone, but I remember thinking it won't take me long to complete the Twelve Steps. As far as I could see I was halfway through the Steps already and Step Six was only mentioned in one small paragraph in The Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous. I mistakenly thought Step Six was less important than the other steps.
While doing Steps One - Five, I first sensed that my old ideas and attitudes toward myself and others were beginning to change. My trust in this programme of recovery was growing. The binge eating, bulimic behaviours and compulsive exercise had been removed and the obsession with wanting to eat all the time and lose weight were fading. For the first time, I felt hopeful about a Higher Power working in my life. In those early months of sobriety, sitting in meetings my eyes would gravitate to the Twelve Steps displayed on the wall. Most people tend to see Step Four (an inventory) and Step Nine (making amends to others) as the two ‘BIG ones’. I was no exception to this and thought if I could get through those two, well, the rest of the programme would be a cinch.
Step Six was a complete revelation for me
It was by listening to AEA members share their experience of Step Six, that I began to get a better understanding of its true meaning and a greater knowledge of how I had behaved and conducted myself in the world, both in my actions and thoughts. My modus operandi was to not take responsibility for my actions and to see myself as a victim. I felt the world and the people in it had not done ‘enough’ for me. I was full of self-pity at the injustice of it all and blame was my middle name! The Big Book talks about being ‘driven by a hundred forms of fear.’ I had no clue that my character defects of self-seeking, manipulation, jealousy, lust, using people, dishonesty, (to name just a few), were all coming from this mad place of self-centred fear within me.
I remember hearing a member share that the disease of addiction will use absolutely anything that's personal to each of us to get us back addictively eating, drinking alcohol and/or taking pills. How true this is. These negative traits were a constant occurrence and so ingrained in me I found it difficult to imagine ever changing. I knew I wanted to live differently and treat others in a better and more thoughtful way. I just couldn’t imagine it ever happening. Today, with the help of this programme, I find it amazing to watch my life improve and my relationships with others get better. I know I can be useful and I am no longer prey to self-pity and misery.
I’m not, however, completely rid of self-centeredness (unfortunately). I still get caught up in how my little life is going, what people may or may not think of me and trying to control the outcome of my actions and those of others. Yet I definitely have a much greater awareness of myself and a recognition of how those ways of acting are old behaviours that I don't like to live by anymore.
I seek the help of a Higher Power and my defects of character are removed
I have come to believe that I need a Higher Power to relieve me of the bondage of self and remove my fear. Fear that I will lose something I have already got or fear I won't get what I want. When I get consumed by this sort of thinking, I find it a great comfort to talk with another sober member of Addictive Eaters Anonymous and be reminded to trust in a Higher Power and to surrender. Then it is up to me as to how I act. I can choose to ruminate, feel the fear get worse and continue to run with those same old defects of self-will or I can let go entirely and leave the results up to a loving Higher Power. Generally, just making the decision to trust and let go brings about an inner freedom that I can’t quite explain, but allows me to be useful and present to others.
One day at a time, Step Six helps me stay sober from food and all other substances
Early on, I hadn’t quite understood that this is a programme for living and that practising the principles in my everyday life meant that I continually need to be willing to do Step Six on a daily basis. I truly believe that, if left untreated, my character defects will be the very thing that takes me back to addictive eating and abusing other substances.
I have found the Sixth Step is far from a small little paragraph that I once thought it was. For me, it is a gateway to all the other Steps in Addictive Eaters Anonymous and a greater connection with my Higher Power.