The 6th Step of AA says, "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."
With the start of the sixth step, we begin to move into action. The first three steps laid the foundation. Steps four and five we began seeing how self-centered we had become and we began to find a sense of humility and letting go of our false pride.
Step six did not place the burden of removing my defects of character – it only asked that I be entirely ready to have my Higher Power remove them for me. But it would involve more work then just asking. Steps four and five pointed out these defects in all their gory details. In my drinking days I seldom prepared for anything except my next drink.
Now I was preparing to change my whole life. To throw away every little trick, story and lie that had kept me alive for so many years. While every step gave me strength, step six would be the first time I would accept my spiritual strength. It would be the first time that I accepted the fact that everything had to change.
At first glance the step seems relatively easy, especially after completing the fourth and fifth step. But in reality, it is the first step into the present. By preparing for the removal of our shortcomings, we’re acknowledging that we have no control over anything, even the way we act.
You may think that this is a logical step on our journey; a step filled with hope, and yes, dreams. But the reality is the sixth step can be filled with despair and nightmares. Think about it, you’re ready to throw away everything you were, everything you are, and start a new life.
There will be people in your life that won’t or can’t accept this change. No matter what you do or how much you change, these people will always see you as a violent, destructive drunk. Are you prepared for that?
When I was thinking about how I would present the sixth step this month, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to proceed. But within the span of two days my answers came to me. The answers came from two different sources. The first one came from step-daughter.
We were having a conversation about alcoholism and how it can affect the body physically. She didn’t want to believe me when I said, “It’s the voice of experience, I’m an alcoholic, I know.”
She quickly shot back, “A recovering alcoholic.”
“I’m still an alcoholic.”
We went back and forth like this for quite awhile. She has never seen me drunk. She couldn’t comprehend that the person she knew would classify himself as an alcoholic. She’s only known me as the person I am now. She associated the alcoholic with an unpredictable person. Until that conversation, she has never associated me with being that type of person.
The second part of my answer came from an e-mail. From a person who saw me at my worse. Who saw me the last time I was drunk. We have not had much contact since I quit drinking. I made my amends, they weren’t accepted and I moved on. Out of the blue, an e-mail appeared and the same anger was there that was present well over 12 years ago.
After all this time, they can’t separate the drunk from the person. They still visualize me as a sick violent out of control drunk. I’ve accepted the fact, that to some people I will always be a drunken scum of the earth. No matter how long I’m sober their feelings toward me may never change. It’s painful and it hurts, even after 12 years. But there is nothing I can do to change their feelings.
Every step we take has its unique challenges. Not only will your own defects leave, but sadly, some relationships will end. For your own serenity, you need to accept the fact, that some of the people you hurt along the way will never accept the changes in you.