Lightening the BurdenThis remains one of the great miracles of the program: that by working the steps the horror of my past has been diminished and has even become a useful tool for helping others. Like so many of us, I had deep, dark secrets that I carried for decades, intending to keep them hidden from view forever.
Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now.... the dark past is... the key to life and happiness for others.Alcoholics Anonymous, p.124
Since I have been sober, I have been healed of many pains: deceiving my partner, deserting my best friend, and spoiling my mother's hopes for my life. In each case someone in the program told me of a similar problem, and I was able to share what happened to me. When my story was told, both of us got up with lighter hearts.
Of course, I knew about them. When I drank, I could momentarily forget them. At the same time, drunk, I was often adding to the list of horrors that I didn't want to face. And when I wasn't drunk, I also knew that God knew.
Today, the guilt and shame are not gone. But they've been greatly diminished, so much so that I've shared the scariest and most disturbing of this history with more than one person (though I try to do so only when it seem called for, not exhibitionistically1): a sponsor, therapists, my wife2 and others. I have to assume this has primarily been a result of working Steps 4, 5, 8 and 9.
It's nice to think that I won't be sharing my coffin with these horrors. ☺
1 Is this really a word? Blogger didn't flag is as misspelled, though I can't find it on Bartleby.com.
2 I'm certainly not recommending this. At times I reget it. At other times, when I reflect on it, I'm happy I did. Be careful, be very, very careful!