Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Working The Steps: Step 7

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I am just continuing with my step work at the moment and not really trying to write any other blogs at the moment. I have just really been focused on my life at the moment and I feel in a really good place. Work wise I am trying to focus on work and improving my productivity when I am there. Lateness was an issue for a long time and I am getting in early now and making time which is great and I am sleeping much better at night now. I am working on my patience with my kids, I have started a weekly challenge with my son that I won’t shout at him, unless he is being bad and needs to be shouted at. I had a successful first week in doing it but dramatically came off the rails day 1 of week 2. So the score stands at 1-1. I still attend my meetings regularly and I am still getting so much out of them, they have helped saved my life and turn me into a better person. If you had said to me at the beginning of this year that I would stop betting and actually enjoy my life I would have said you were mad. If you had just said I would have stopped betting I would have said no way. I loved gambling so much but it wasn’t good for me or my family and was only going to get worse and worse so I needed to stop. To be able to not only admit that I have a gambling problem but to accept that I have one and to be willing to try and improve myself and get proper help via G.A and my Problem Gambling group is still hard for me to believe at times, but that is exactly what I have done and will continue to do, one day at a time.

Step 7 is below and as usual anything in bold and or italics is from the work sheet and the rest is my own ramblings.

Step 7: Humbly asked God (of our understand) to remove our shortcomings.

Step 7, Exercise 1

Write about:

How do you interpret your Higher Power’s will for you?

My higher power is my two kids and I try and think what would be best for them when making decisions in my life. I know that they want me to be there with them, present both physically and mentally, interacting with them, which is something I cannot do if I am gambling.  I know that they want me to stay in recovery and to keep progressing as a person because it is clear I am a better Dad because of it. They do not care about how much money I have in the bank, to quote a member from my G.A. meeting, “They don’t want your money they want your love”. I just know if I keep doing the right things today, while focusing on how my behaviour and decisions impacts my kids, then I will get through today without a bet and all the benefits that come with it and that is what my kids want for me.

Do you feel that your life has meaning and purpose?

Absolutely and it is down to my two kids mainly. They are the reason I want to get up in the morning and go to work and they are the reason I want to do the right things that I discussed above. Are they annoying at times? Of course they are, they are 7 years old and 3 years old. Do I lose patience with them at times? I do indeed, more often than I would like to but I am working on that which leads me to my other meaning and purpose in life, recovery. I want to become a better person, I’ll never become a perfect person because I do not believe that exists, but I can strive to be a better person today than I was yesterday and that is down to my recovery program. I’ll also mention my partner who gives my life meaning and purpose and without her standing by me when I admitted my problem I would not be in the position I am in today. My parents are another reason as well, I want to make them proud and the best way to do that is to do right by their grandchildren. I have a meaning and purpose in my G.A. group and Problem Gambling group because when I share in a meeting someone may get something from it that helps them and vice-versa when I go to a meeting and listen I tend to come away with at least something I can apply to my own life. To summarise, in recovery I have beneficial reasons to wake up each morning and face the day, when I was gambling the only reason I woke up was so I could place my next bet and get my fix and continue doing that until the money ran out or I fell asleep, not once did I care about anyone else, that is different now though and it is what drives me forward.

What does the word “humility” mean to you? Has your view of it changed since joining G.A.?

As tends to be the case since I have entered recovery, I find myself reaching for the dictionary (Google) to learn what the actual definition means because I tend to assume I know and usually I am wrong. Before I look it up, to me, humility means not bragging about success and that would have been my view of it before joining G.A.

Humility is the quality of being humble. If you meet one of your heroes and feel nervous and in awe for her, you are experiencing humility. Humility comes from the Latin word humilis, which literally means low. If you feel humility in front of someone, you feel small in the scheme of things – that you are just a simple, insignificant person. Someone who spends his life taking care of others shows humility. Although it’s related to humiliation (which makes you feel low in a bad way), humility is usually used to talk about a lack of ego. – Taken from vocabulary.com

The quality of not being proud because you are aware of your bad qualities. – Taken from Cambridge Dictionary

Freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble. – Taken from Merriam-Webster

So there are a few definitions to work with, all of which are much better than what I thought the meaning was but as I tend to find in recovery, every day is a school day.

How does humility manifest itself in your behaviour and actions today? Give specific examples. How will you keep it in your life as your recovery progresses?

One of the biggest things is I am aware of my bad qualities and not only that I am open and honest about them and I am trying to improve them. A specific example of this is that I talk about my bad qualities when I share at my meetings. I came into recovery with a massive ego and believed that I knew better than everyone else, that no one else had any good ideas except me. Slowly but surely my ego has eroded since I have been in recovery but it is still there to be worked on. I am now much more open to other people’s ideas and opinions and will normally listen and actually take in what they have said. Before I would have been thinking of my response as to why they were wrong while they were still talking. I can also totally relate to feeling small in the scheme of things, before recovery I assumed the world revolved around me and that everyone should accommodate me and what I want, I now know that is not the case. In the grand scheme of things I am on this earth in the blink of an eye and off it again. Things that happen to me are not the end of the world although I had a habit of thinking they were. No matter what happens the world will keep spinning and I am just like everyone else, here for the ride. I will keep humility in my life and also try to build on it during my recovery but continuing to do the right things each day, by continuing to attend meetings and listen and learn from other people. I will also continue to share my story to others in the hope that they can take something away from it.

Step 7, Exercise 2

Write about:

Do you have a one-day-at-a-time plan for asking for help in removing the character defect that you targeted in Step 6? What is it?

To steal from Just for Today, “Just for today I will have a programme, I may not follow it exactly but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests – hurry and indecision”. My plan is as stated above, do the right things each day go to my G.A. meeting on a Monday night, my Problem Gambling meetings on a Wednesday, Friday and if I am feeling super motivated on a Sunday as well. I will talk to my sponsor if I am struggle with my character defects if it is outside of a meeting. I am a solid group of family and friends I can ask for help and advice. My Higher Power also guides me each day when it comes to removing my character defects.

Are you willing to continue to apply Steps 6 and 7 to your other defects? How do you intend to continue the process?

Yes I am and I feel the best way will be to rework Steps 6 and 7 for each defect and really drill down into each one and try and remove them. If removing them completely is not possible then I will try and reduce them as much as possible. I plan to work the 12 steps in their entirety again, either once a year or every other year. I will never be perfect but that isn’t the aim. Progress not perfection.

Are you more honest, tolerant and loving towards yourself and others today? Describe how you will use these qualities to work Step 8.

I am definitely more honest, tolerant and loving towards myself and others today when compared to how I was when I entered recovery. I hated myself when I was gambling, I lied to myself about how I wasn’t doing anything wrong when I was gambling and I lied to those closest to me to borrow money. I hated the world and everyone in it when I was gambling, I thought everyone was at fault for all the bad things happening to me, I believed people were going out of their way to annoy me and frustrate me. It wasn’t an overnight change either, it took time and hard work to become a better person towards myself and others and there is still room to grow. I have put the work in by going to multiple meetings each week and more importantly by listening to what other people are saying in those meetings. Working the steps has also been a massive help and all of these qualities will be used when working on Step 8, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”. One of the biggest differences between me now and then is that I actually enjoy talking to other people and engaging with them. It will be tough working Step 8 but it has been a tough journey so far and it hasn’t stopped me yet.

Russ