Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Exact nature of our wrongs

It has been a full day for me.  I started with going to the gym and working out hard on cardio and free weights.  After that,  I met a fellow I sponsor to continue work on the fourth step.  Then I went to the boat to strip off old varnish and put new coats on the bright work.  Finally, I ended up at a meeting where the topic was about the fifth step. And what a way to end the day.

The fifth step says that I admit to God, myself and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.  The words "exact nature" were not something that I had thought much about before tonight.  When I did my first fifth step,  I told my life story to my sponsor--both the good and the bad, with mostly the bad things dominating.  I wanted this to be a confession.  I wanted to beat myself up, just as I had been doing for most of my life.  Never good enough, never fitting in, never being exactly right.

But my fifth step turned out to be an admission, followed by acceptance that I wasn't as bad as I had thought.  And there was nothing judgmental from my sponsor as he listened to me.  I'm not sure that I differentiated at the time the things that I did from the underlying reasons that I did those things.  I believe that the "exact nature" refers to the causes or reasons that I make up in my mind for why I do what I do.  It is not justifying my behavior or making excuses for the things that keep me stuck in self-defeating behaviors.   Instead, it's about awareness.

I think that it takes honesty, willingness, courage, open-mindedness and humility to look at oneself and understand the "exact nature of our wrongs".  Being aware that fear of rejection has been a huge factor in my life has made me change my reactions when dealing with others.

I understand that I was programmed from an early age to feel rejection.  I don't need to beat myself up over that.  I do know that it has colored a lot of how I view others and deal with relationships.  So that tells me that I need to try some different dynamic in dealing with others.  I don't need to keep doing what didn't work.

But I was also programmed to be willing, to listen and to be open-minded in my dealings with others.  Those are things that are innate to my nature.  And by being aware of them, I have been able to find acceptance for myself and those with whom I interact, and to take actions that are helping me find solutions to every day problems that arise.

“We are all a volume on a shelf of a library, a story unto ourselves, never possibly described with one word or even very accurately with thousands. A person is never as quiet or unrestrained as they seem, or as bad or good, as vulnerable or as strong, as sweet or as fiesty; we are thickly layered, page upon lying page, behind simple covers. And love - it is not the book itself, but the binding. It can rip us apart or hold us together.” ~ Deb Caletti


  1. The Deb Caletti quote is dead on. thanks for sharing it.

  2. So Syd you evil creature of hate and mutilation, how many times did you beat your wife or go into a bar and find some small folks to whip the crap out of just for being there? Oh? Never? Really? Seriously you must have lied cheated and stole your way to being the head of your department then right? Hard work and knowledge never got you anywhere right?

    Oh---I see you only picked on and beat up yourself, while others were kicking you because it was all your fault.

    All the fifth steps in the world won't stop you from whooping your own ass Syd. You know what will though...keeping your mind in the today, where by all accounts your living an honorable life becoming more filled with peace of being and generosity of soul. Today is the only day that matters, yesterday is hell and it is no longer and tomorrow will soon enough be yesterday but today, today is the day you live well.

    Enjoy the moment you draw breath Syd what you were is NOT what you are.

  3. Mark, yep, I get that. Strange that I didn't get it before I became aware--that I was my worst enemy. And you are right--today is what matters. I was shaped by yesterday and my genetic makeup--but am doing pretty well today by not staying stuck in the past. I appreciate your comments!

  4. It IS odd how some of us tend to obsess about the negative within us. The mistakes we've made, not the things we've done right or well.
    Okay. You've given me something else to put in my pocket.
    Thanks, Syd.

  5. That quote was a perfect way to start my day. Thanks, Syd. Have a great Wednesday.

  6. I don't quite get what Wrongs you'd be doing when you're Victim of an alkie and never were a heavy drinker yourself... know what I mean?

  7. Admitting the exact nature of my wrongs. I remember working on my 4th step (I should do this again sometime) and discovering all my character flaws. (so many) Then seeking out the exact nature of all the wrongs I committed. I discovered so much of the negativity in my life circled around my fear. Staying in the moment keeps a lot of fear away. love the quote, too.

  8. Gleds, my wrongs were about how I reacted around others--blame, anger, shame, fear, dishonesty, and many more. I was affected by alcoholism but had to understand how and what I could do about that. Therein, is a path to recovery.

  9. i feel you man...we will def beat ourselves up if we really think about the wrongs we did ...no matter how small or insignificant they may be...learning to let them go and move forward is def a learned behavior...as well

  10. Syd, you said "my wrongs were about how I reacted around others--blame, anger, shame, fear, dishonesty, and many more."

    I am going through that phase right now and can't seem to get off that treadmill - felt like a panic attack - my reaction this morning dealing with an enabler and addict at work.

    The hard part of course is we're related and I don't want to deal with addiction issues in my family (AT ALL) when my own daughter's was ignored. I have trouble watching enabling behaviors and my mouth gets me in trouble.

  11. More is revealed sometimes quickly sometime slowly.
    I began to drink again when I stopped going to meetings. I just knew too much. I have alot of gratitude for my life today.

  12. I would love to have the insight into my character and that you have! Step one is not a problem for me (today, that is tomorrow is another story), but the real self evaluation has yet to happen for me and before I can make the needed changes and learn to correctly deal with my anger, frustration, resentment, ect. I need to find myself. I enjoy your honest daily dose! Keep it up, your my virtual sponsor!! You just didn't know it!

  13. Wonderful post, thank you! I was grateful I found the willingness and honesty for step four and step five, it really opened up a lot of doors for my recovery.

    Love the quote.

  14. SO good.
    It particularly resonated with me the way you said: "I understand that I was programmed from an early age to feel rejection." I want to think about that some more...


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