“Selfishness and self-centeredness! That, we think, is root of our troubles…We must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! (the Big Book)”
So how does self get rid of self? How can a taker, a user of people, a thief, get rid of selfishness? The AA Big Book says God makes that possible. But how? How can someone as selfish and grandiose as me travel the path of losing myself in the service of others while at the same time finding myself in the pursuit and fulfillment of my dreams? How can I break free from a seemingly endless cycle of beating myself up and then resorting to addictive behaviors in order to numb out?
The answers were locked inside of myself the whole time. Only I couldn’t’t access them without the keys. And YOU were one of the keys. I needed you. I needed other people to help me get out of myself. When I sat and listened to your stories I would lose myself in you. When I tried to help you in any way I could, I was being released from the bondage of self. In other words, when I let you into my heart, the billy club began to disappear. Letting you into my heart has not been an easy process. Carrying the effects of the abuse has colored how I look at the world. And my vision was one of distrust, shame, paranoia–which brings me to another key: suffering.
The way I seem to work is: repeat painful, destructive behaviors until they hurt too much and have destroyed so much that I can’t take it anymore. I smash into the wall over and over and over again, and then, bruised and battered, I ask for help, seek another way—become sick and tired of being sick and tired. Then I change. Backed into a corner—no place else to go—I change. And for the change to stick, I need to replace the destructive behaviors and thought processes with constructive ones, for nature abhors a vacuum. Hence working the steps, hence working with Emmet Fox, hence playing my music, writing my poetry, hence utilizing affirmations and vision boards, hence creating this blog. I move through fear and the billy club disappears a little more.
Of course it is a charmed billy club and can reappear instantly, at the drop of a hat. And the process of being released from the bondage of self has no finish line. Working the 12 steps has taught me to see my part in what I do. They have taught me to clean up my side of the street. And as I began using Emmet Fox’s work as part of my 11th step, things really blossomed inside and out.
To sum it up—self-centeredness and the billy club are inextricably linked. As I move away from one, the other loosens its grip. And for this to happen, I need you, I need a Design For Living, I need to suffer enough to rise up and make a change.
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog