I am shamed and disgusted that my neighourhood has come to this. I am dismissive of them, intolerant, impatient and arrogant towards them. My step 4 showed me this is the unhealthy fruit of my greed, gluttony, my lust, my sloth. My dismissiveness and my arrogance are parts of defence mechanism against rejection, they guard my inherent sense of shame. I am full of shame, more so than fear, although these two overlap. I grew up in a family that did not express emotions like the ones I had mentioned. We reacted via anger and put downs hence I have grown up to be dismissive. The years of recovery reveal many different things, some of them not so palatable. Anger responses are modeled and learned in some families. The anger response is more comfortable than feeling the shame for some individuals.
When I am in fear and shame the same pattern of negative reactions entrap my heart in its’ poisonous grip and I react in a way I would not choose to, if more reasonable. These are all parts of my emotionally entangled web that is spun when I react to some sense of rejection. My past constantly assailed me emotionally, randomly attacking my mind. When I was doing my step four inventory as part of my 12 spiritual malady meaning step programme of recovery I did it pretty much as suggested in the Big Book. My emotions became wedded in time to being undifferentiated arousal states that prompted me to seek an external way to deal with these troubling emotional/arousal states. I do not necessarily have to react to my feelings of negativity about myself, someone else does not need to experience the consequence of my resentments.
What is Alcoholism? Am I an Alcoholic?
Nobody wants to be out of control, to be teetering on the verge of the next disaster, the next moving of home, the next calling of the police, the next swirling carousel of unmanageabiilty. When things had died down and calm restored I spent the evening not in my fear or shame but in empathy and compassion. For example, this family have just moved into my neighbourhood, they seem wild and out of control. We are far from being Saints but have a solution Saints would approve and achieve a kind of transient sanctity in this 12 step solution of letting go and letting God. I also impressed upon him that mostly I can manage this emotional dysfunction but often I fail to and get into a resentful anger. I would have had empathy for where the newcomer “was at in his recovery” as I had been there once too.
Once turning to substances many of these people struggle to maintain the same focus on the other priorities they had. To conclude, it’s not my body — my allergic reaction to alcohol — that’s going to take me back to drinking. It’s really not my mind — the mental obsession — that is the underlying root of what will take me back to drinking. It’s the “spiritual malady”, as manifested by my EGO (selfishness-self-centeredness), Sober Home that can eventually lead me back to drinking or sometimes even suicide. “Many believe that addiction not only affects individuals physically and mentally, but spiritually as well. Alcoholics Anonymous calls alcoholism a ‘spiritual malady.’ Subsequently, many have found that spirituality can play a fundamental role in addiction recovery. Spirituality is difficult to define, and in many respects is subjective in nature.
How Do 12 Step Fellowships Define “Addiction” and “Alcoholism”?
The magic of the the steps is that they seem to reveal the patterns of behaviour that our actions have prompted over the course of our lives. It helps us see ourselves and our condition of alcoholism and how it effects us and others. The spiritual principles of AA and the 12 steps in particular were drawn from the 4 absolutes of the Oxford group, via initially the 6 steps and the idea of a spiritual malady is also borrowed from the Oxford group. By sin I mean negative emotions that cause distress to me and others. The bottom line, a true alcoholic or addict has no power to stop, avoid, or control their drinking. Addiction and alcoholism are both a 3 fold disease, meaning there are three distinct areas that alcoholism affects and the reason you cannot stop drinking and using.
They oversimplify our problem and solution and can send the wrong information. Finally, someone explained to me that those things are not the insanity that the Big Book talks about; nor are those things why the alcoholic’s life becomes unmanageable. Conveniently, I overlooked the words ‘God as you understand Him (or Her’) ingeniously included in the steps. Spiritual Dick transcends physical form and is directly linked to the soul. The bigger one’s Spiritual Dick is means their energy is more powerful and they are true to themselves.
What Does a Spiritual Malady Feel Like?
The reason for this is because addiction is at its core a spiritual malady. Yes, there are genetic, behavioral, and psychological components to the illness, but attempting to combat any one of these fronts without overcoming the spiritual malady is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound and usually won’t have lasting results. For a long time I thought my life was unmanageable because of all the crazy insane things I did while drinking — like the car accidents, hurting people when I didn’t mean to, failed relationships, loss of jobs, family dysfunction, jails, asylums, etc. I’ve struggled with a consistent practice of steps with now 19 yrs of sobriety.