Hope in a box
All around the mulberry bush The monkey chased the weasel; The monkey thought it was all in fun... Pop! goes the weasel.
This post goes out to all those who recall the terror that was the jack-in-the-box. We never saw it coming. Randomly, the scary clown would pop out of the box in the middle of a pleasant tune. We were caught off guard, and the freight rattled our core. As we developed, we understood what was in the container, and we mentally prepared for its inevitable emergence.
Though the toy’s origin dates back to the 14th century, the lesson it teaches today remains relevant.
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
We have heard it said that “recovery is a process of solid personal growth and enlightenment.” We concur. And, we might add that to get all the solid out, one needs to be all in. Fearless, if you will.
The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are designed so that we can connect to our core to fully understand what is in the box so that we can live a life free of unanticipated surprises. The book (titled “Alcoholics Anonymous“) spells out the specifics, and we are left to decide what level of commitment we will apply to the process. Will we fearlessly search to identify, process, and reposition the inventory of people and events that shape our essence?
When done right, deeply examining one's past is emotionally painful. It is through this discomfort, however, that we experience healing. To be clear, healing doesn't necessarily mean we are free of the hurt, but that we have accepted them for what they are. This is an important distinction.
Identifying fears, points of pride, resentments/angers, self-will and self-pity, guilt/shame, relationships, sex impact, secrets, and assets, etc., are the start of understanding what makes us tick. Reflecting on the events that brought us to where we are today is hard work and takes time, but it is absolutely enlightening and essential to solid sobriety.
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
We have also heard it said that “we are only as sick as our secrets.” Again, we concur.
Our experience of thoroughly (exactly) sharing the pains of our past brought indescribable relief to our wearied spirit.
Note the three components of this suggested stage: we verbally confess to ourselves, to somebody else, and to our understanding of a higher authority. There is power in confession, and nowhere was it more impactful than in the working of this action.
We have found no hard and fast rule about who the other human being should be. We have seen people who have shared with their sponsor, counselor, and clergy. Individually or collectively, the point is to get it out in the light so that we no longer fear what is in the dark.
Continue to take personal inventory.
The real beauty of the AA program is that it is not a one-and-done framework. It is an ongoing system. We can always go back to the past as memories surface and address the present as life unfolds.
Like any efficient business, the key is to keep a keen eye on our inventory. What do we have on hand? To whom do we owe? What are liabilities and assets? What about risk - is there something that can pop up?
In the end, it's all about honesty and accountability. We found that we needed to come to a place of complete understanding of the events that shape us. We needed to detect, dissect, and deal with the pieces of ourselves that make up the whole. We needed to bring ourselves into the light. We had to find ourselves completely. We had to accept ourselves unconditionally, acknowledging each thread that created the fabric that is us.
So, the scary has been outed. We now know of the clown and are ready for its re-entry.
The crank is always turning. Are we ready for the pop?
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast titled #30 "There is a Solution" - Lynda joins for a Deeper Dive” The podcast dropped on 10/27/21. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.