In the previous post I looked to the Outer sixth stage: Tests, Allies, and Enemies– what Campbell refers to as “The Road of Trials”. Indeed, I was looking at my 12 Step work on a much deeper level– and I eventually cross-referenced the two books (He Did Deliver Me From Bondage and Clean Hands, Pure Heart) a lot.
I figured it appropriate to look more to Vogler’s Inner sixth stage, here: Experimenting with new conditions. I really started to put the Steps through their paces.
I feel it necessary to point out that the 12 Step program has been interpreted many different ways, for people of very different belief systems. “Higher Power” is often substituted for “God”; the founders did use the words “as we understood him”, and I think that’s fair leeway. Anyways, because religion is a touchy subject, I want to be sure that what I say of my own beliefs is just that– my own.
What I should also point out was that Cimmorene walked me through these months and months of posts, and decided to work along in the book with me.
What Phil introduced me to was counseling with Jesus Christ, or God the Son. I had not known that our leadership (even Brigham Young, our second president of our church) had taught the importance of doing so. Perhaps it is easier for me to say that I developed a closer relationship with my Master. It was hard– really hard, because for so many years I had stuffed my emotions and I deemed myself unworthy– “pride from beneath”, as Phil and Colleen put it. It would be easy for me to continue feeling that I would be divinely condemned, but as I worked through these journals, I felt an incredible sense of love, mercy, patience, and understanding.
That became the essence of the sixth step: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character,” and the seventh step: “Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.” The fifth step was hard for me, because it was very easy to write that fifth step inventory and to be too caught up in the shame of the trauma of that. I didn’t realize until many years later (I think it was this year?), attending a meeting with the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, that I was not fair with myself, not counting how I had wronged myself, and that I needed to forgive myself.
I also had glossed over a few details– Clean Hands, Pure Heart wasn’t released at the start of these posts. Phil was still working on publishing the book, so I didn’t start writing about it until September 3, 2004, approximately when I got my physical copy. But he referenced a lot of what was put up online as sample material. I don’t have our e-mail communiqués anymore, but I had saved some of his responses as comments to the posts.
And there were also hints of other changes– weight loss, better physical fitness– that I’m not sure I wrote much about. At one point, I lost 80 pounds. Let me say this: I was concerned about how 12 Step work would affect me overall, not just recovery from sexual addiction. Yes… I guess this is the first time I’ve referenced that, that my support group and 12 Step work had largely to do with sex addiction. This was my way of coping with the abuse, with what for a time seemed like a conflict between my beliefs and my sexual orientation.
There was also more problems with mental illness, more specifically BAD side effects from psychiatric drugs. It’ll take me some time to pick through all of that.
But I made it through. Most of my 15 years of marriage have been swallowed up in that journey, and so, there’s more to come. It’s a slogfest, but I’ll get to the VOX years eventually, the birth of my son, and some REALLY exciting stuff about blogging some life-altering events.