When We Were Wrong

There’s no shame or harm in changing your direction. In fact, it’s often absolutely necessary if we are to survive and remain sane! Isn’t that what we are praying for in the Serenity Prayer: courage to change the things I can? Whether it is a minor course correction or a major shift in my life direction, I need to step out of my comfort zone and make those changes. If I am to be happy, joyous and free, then I must be willing to change and do what I must as I trudge the road of happy destiny.

I read a few days ago again that an airplane is off course 90% of the time. Wind is constantly blowing that metal tube about, shifting it’s position. There are often cloud banks and storms the the pilot can avoid by navigating around them. The pilot or autopilot is constantly making subtle changes in order to keep the airplane safe and to bring it back on course to its destination. And though it may seem a miracle, it lands on time and where it was supposed to land.

It’s not a miracle, not really. It’s a result of the constant attention of the flight crew. Those constant course corrections nudge the plane back on course. A constant check to see where it is headed. That’s what Step 10 is all about: course correction. “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” This is our regular measure of where we are and where we are headed.

Especially early on in the program, it is so easy to stray in our thinking. Everything is new: sobriety, sharing, slogans, steps and sponsors are part of a whole new vocabulary in our lives. It seems there is so much to learn and at the same time so much to forget.  The good news for newcomers, as I was told early on, is that you can start to practice any step that has a “1” in it right from the beginning, so steps 10, 11 and 12 can be worked while you’re still on the first step.

It need not be complicated, and you probably already do it to some degree.  At some point in the evening we can go over the day and pick out what went well, and what didn’t.  If we need to, we can talk to our sponsor about it. It may well be that we had acted like a jerk to a friend or coworker and tomorrow we can apologize.  No need to take on the sins of the world here, just a simple, “I’m sorry, I acted like a jerk yesterday.” is all that is needed.  It doesn’t even matter whether the apology is accepted, because forgiveness is not the goal, clearing our conscience is! Keeping our own side of the street clean early in sobriety is a good way to practice the program principles. It helps to keep us true to this new direction we are headed.

And to be honest, even after years of sobriety, a slight variation in thinking can gradually lead to bad decisions that lead back to the bottle, the pipe and the syringe. Meeting rooms are full of people who were absolutely certain they “had” the program before and suddenly they found themselves back where they started, even after more than ten or twenty years sometimes. A spot check inventory helps to keep us in touch with ourselves, our program and our Higher Power. Like any other terminal condition, I must take my medicine which is the practice and the living of all of the 12 steps of our program, every day. I can’t let up; there is no “free” day here.  It’s one day at a time, one day, everyday.

♥  ♥  ♥

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Peace