Monday, 7 October 2019

Working The Steps: Step 6

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I have taken a bit of a break from writing a blog and doing step work, much to the annoyance of my sponsor who in turn has been nagging me to restart the steps. To be honest the plan was to take a small break in August and I just got lazy and kept making excuses, that’s character defects for you. Anyways, I have done Step 5 with my Sponsor which is admitting to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs which is pretty much going over Step 4 and a few other bits and pieces. So I am onto Step 6 which you will find below and as normal, anything in italics and bold is from the worksheet and the rest is my own thoughts.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed

Step 6, Exercise 1

Write about the thoughts, tools, resources and actions that help you maintain serenity. You will need to draw on them as you work through Step 6.

The definition of serenity is “the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled,” and there are various things that enable me to enjoy this state most days. When it comes to actions the attendance of my GA Meeting weekly and my Skype Problem Gamblers Group twice a week is a massive help. I tend to come out of those meetings with a massive buzz as they have allowed me to throw my shit on the floor, figuratively of course, and express how I am feeling without fear of being judged. I had a week in the middle of September where I was unable to attend my meetings and I could feel myself in an uncomfortable position, my routine had been disrupted. I still did not gamble and that was down to the thoughts and tools I have learnt in recovery. I am now in a position where if I am struggling with something I am able to reach out to someone close to me and ask for help or advice, before I would have just kept it bottled up and that tended to end in a gambling binge. Learning to take a step back and look at a situation before (over)reacting has also been a very useful tool. Back when I was gambling even the littlest thing that came up I would have made into a huge issue when the truth is there is very little that comes up day to day in my life that requires a massive (over)reaction. Do I still get frustrated and have arguments at home? Of course I do and so do most “normal” people but it’s all about progress not perfection. The bottom line for me is this, gambling is not a solution that will help me maintain serenity and as long as I am aware of that, accept that and continue to do the right things, “One Day At A Time”, then I can arrest this addiction.

Step 6 is best accomplished “One Defect at a Time.” Review your list from Step 4 and choose one defect with which to begin.

Which defect have you chosen? How has it affected your life in the past? What benefits will its removal bring to your life in recovery?

After reviewing my list from Step 4, impatience is listed as my worst defect and one that I have been working hard on trying to improve. In the past if I wanted something I wanted it yesterday and if I wanted something done and it wasn’t done the way I wanted it I would get restless and irritable. People who could not do something as fast as I could or as good as I could frustrated me. The inability of someone to follow a simple instruction was another thing that set me off. This tends to be extra hard when you have children as they are trying to learn how to do things but yet I did not have the patience for them to learn. Improving this behaviour and thinking would be the major benefit in my recovery; it would improve my relationship with my kids even more than recovery has so far. I also feel that it would enable me to be able to relax, to be able to stay calm; basically it would enable me to stay in the state of serenity more often as discussed above. A major part of my impatience I believe is my desire to control a lot of situations which is another character defect that I have. Looking over the list again I feel that if I can remove/improve impatience as a character defect then a lot of other character defects will be much easier to deal with.

Step 6, Exercise 2

Write about:

Has your readiness/intention to remove your character defect made you more aware of it when it surfaces? Have you begun to change your behaviours, choices and actions? How?

I feel like after I completed Step 4 back in August I became more aware of all my character defects, especially when they surface. I have tried to change my behaviours, but when it comes to impatience in particular, I am still very much a work in progress. I try not to go from zero to shouting when dealing with my kids and it is working for the most part, although a three year old will test your patience to the maximum. My main course of action is to make shouting a last resort, I try and take a step back, remain calm, count to 10. All those things have helped me in regards to dealing with my kids. In other aspects, such as asking someone to do something for me and they do not do it, or are delayed, again, it is all about taking that step back and realising that it isn’t a big deal. Maybe they have something going on that I do not know about, maybe they just forgot and need a reminder. Whatever it is, more often than not, it is not the end of the world. I am more conscious that other people have things going on in their lives and I am not the centre of the attention, I am not the most important person in the world.

Are you getting any comments from others regarding your character changes or improvements? Have you received any positive feedback? Have you met with any resistance? How do you feel about it?

I feel like in general I have improved as a person since entering recovery, my partner has told me a few times she has noticed a change in me. I am a much better person to be around at home, we do things as a family without my head being stuck in my phone and purely focused on gambling. We have both been more productive around the house, there is more getting done and there is just a better atmosphere. I have found myself getting into work earlier and going to bed earlier which has helped me feel better. I am slowly getting into the routine of a normal way of thinking and living, before I had all this time to fill, this void left by gambling, but over time other things have filled that void and I am left wondering how I had time to gamble the way I did. The only real resistance I have had is being mocked for my inability to stay awake for the late NFL games by one of my friends but that is all good natured banter.

Regarding your other character defects/defences, are there any with which you find yourself unwilling to part? What’s holding you back?

There are none I would say I am unwilling to part with; it is just that there are so many it will take time to remove them all. I’m not even sure if it is possible to remove them all as that would mean I would be “perfect”. There are also some defects than impact another defect, for example, I need to work on my industriousness but procrastination is holding me back from that, so I need to work on procrastination first. My opinion of the removal of character defects is it is a life long journey like recovery, it cannot be done overnight. This is the sort of exercise I can see myself doing on a regular basis going forward.