I was prepared for Step 1 to take a long time, as my sponsor said it would, prepared to be patient, but then I did the writing assignment she gave me: write how my life is unmanageable and how I feel powerless. But first, ask God to put on the page what He wants there, then write and don't edit.
I prayed, wrote, closed the file and didn't read it until the end of the day. Wow. It was ugly. Really ugly, and scary. I was going to share some of it here, but what's the point? It's all self-hatred and fear and...ugliness.
My sponsor read it (actually, I read it to her over the phone because I have kids and seeing her is a logistics issue, on which see below) and said, "Well, you've done Step 1. That is powerlessness all right." I said I thought I was going to be on it awhile, and she said, "You continue to surprise me."
My ego lit up, of course: I was the good sponsee, the best sponsee, the good girl A student I have always been. And of course my ego told me that I'd sail through Steps 2 and 3, too, and get to the meat of it, Step 4. The big one. The scary one. Well, the first of several scary ones anyway.
So in the week that followed I had been praying, really praying for the first time in a long time. I felt like there really was a power higher than me that could save me, or at least there could be. So I meet with my sponsor and she says I'm going to be on Step 2 for a while yet. WTF? It says in The Big Book that you just have to be willing to believe that, and I was willing, god damn it, but she said I wasn't there yet.
She said -- and here's the thing that really pissed me off -- that this week, she wanted me to pray to my Higher Power about what it would look like if I wasn't doing this exhausting logistical dance trying to get to meetings and see her without telling my kids where I was going, which has been hard, since I am a single mom with a demanding job and I was juggling enough before I started trying to fit three AA meetings and a meeting with my sponsor into an already insane schedule.
Of course she's right that it would be easier if I told my kids, and my mom who could watch my kids, but I don't want to because telling them would mean telling my ex as well, and I can face being honest with my kids, but not with my ex or my mother, because both of them are very judgmental people who think therapy is Lola Granola bullshit and
Because my ex has already said, "What kind of mother are you anyway? You're never home. You're always at work." I can just see what he'd say about this. And of course I can't ask my kids to keep something like this from their father.
Because my mother has already called me selfish, said I thought more about myself than I did about my kids. And even though she's not the model of motherhood I want to emulate, and even though I keep telling myself her criticism shouldn't affect me, it does.
Because I am afraid of being vulnerable to these people, who have knocked me down in the past when I dropped my armor and made a conscious decision to trust them and be vulnerable, expose myself to things that trigger my Bad Mother Shame.
Later that day, I got really angry. Angry at my sponsor, because AA is Alcoholics Anonymous. I was supposed to be safe here. I was supposed to be allowed to be anonymous and safe. And here she's telling me to tell the most judgmental people in my life my most painful secret.
Normally I would stuff that anger down and get resentful, but I called her instead, and was honest. Instead of getting defensive, she pointed out that she wasn't telling me to tell them. She was telling me to ask my Higher Power about it. And I said, "Oh, and God's going to tell me to go on being a chickenshit coward and do what I want instead of doing the hard work I need to? We both know there's only one answer to that question."
"And that's why you're not done with Step 2," she said gently. "You were so sure you knew the answer already, you didn't even ask God."
She's right, of course. I didn't. I didn't ask God. I didn't trust God enough to ask Him and hear whatever answer I got, in part because I didn't think I'd be able to tell what was God and what wasn't, but in part because -- oh, God, she so totally nailed it -- I think I know what's in the mind of God already.
So here I am, mired in Step 2. Trying to figure out how to let go of my fear and arrogance and ego enough to really, truly, humbly ask.