I've been working on that eighth step list; that list of people to whom I owe amends. It has me thinking about the work I've done so far, and how it has compared to my expectations.
In our early days in recovery, many of us look at step four and freak out a little bit. The whole idea of making a "fearless and searching moral inventory" is frightening. It forces us to look at all the shit we've done that we probably feel a lot of guilt and shame about. Many people express fear about going into this step, and I can absolutely understand this fear.
However, I didn't feel all that much fear about doing an inventory. I may have balked at the word "moral", but that's about my ideas of morality and my rebellion at the way certain interest groups try and legislate morality. Doing a fourth step, for me, was more like cleaning out the closet. I had done the shit, and for the most part I just wanted to be done WITH the shit. (I also admit that a sick part of me took some pride in some of my behaviours, but that's a post for another day.)
The step that scared me wasn't four, or even five (sharing with god, myself, and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs). It was the combination of six and seven. Character defects and shortcomings.
When I first found myself in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, I was a giant ball of character defects and shortcomings; and there was this part of me that was absolutely terrified that if all of my defects and shortcomings were removed, there would be nothing left but an empty shell.
I am grateful that this hasn't proved true. I am also grateful that the steps are in order for a reason. In working steps one through three, I developed a faith in something greater than myself, and some understanding that I had a disease--not a moral failing. In working steps four and five, I learned that I did have good qualities and I began to understand the exact nature of my wrongs (and how they stemmed from the self-centered nature of the disease of addiction).
In working the steps, I have begun the journey from a giant ball of character defects to whole human being. I am grateful that not only did I not turn out to NOT be an empty shell, I actually began making room for the good qualities to blossom by cleaning out the closet and becoming ready to have my defects and shortcomings removed.
My expectations are constantly being overturned in Narcotics Anonymous. That's a good thing. Had I listed my expectations when I first got clean, I would have sold my seven-year-clean self short. At times, the addict in me fears the consequences of working the steps; thank heaven the recovery in me knows that expectations are bullshit and life is a delightful adventure.