“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development…” (p. 83 Alcoholics Anonymous)
Painstaking. It’s a word that’s always stood out to me from the time I first heard it read in the above excerpt, which is taken from the section of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous known as The Promises. It’s also the main word I primarily ignored each time those promises were read in just about every 12 Step meeting I attended. Because of this, it took me a very long time to establish a healthy recovery and life.
The definition of painstaking is “when something is done with or employing great care and thoroughness.” To put it rather bluntly, I rarely did anything with great care and thoroughness for most of my life unless it was pursuing some person, place, or thing to make me happy, i.e. an addiction. But in regards to me placing any great care or thoroughness into the work that always comes with doing the 12 Steps, I balked.
Honestly, doing step work isn’t easy. It forces a person to face themselves and all their messes they created in life. It forces them to see their character defects and all their acts of selfishness and self-centeredness. And it forces them to look at their dishonesty and all their fears as well. Trust me, looking at any of these things is extremely difficult, especially when there’s no immediate payout or benefit to bringing it all to light.
The only reason why I was painstaking in my pursuance of alcohol, drugs, sex, love, shopping, and the like is only for the fact that I was getting something instantly out of each of them. With the 12 Steps though, that’s often not the case. The payout comes in the long run the more one sticks and persists with the work, even when it feels like nothing good is coming out of it.
That’s really what being painstaking is all about when it comes to recovery from an addiction. It’s about trudging through the 12 Steps and taking a good, hard look at one self, even when it feels like crap. It’s about being as thorough as possible, even when one might be totally afraid to fully see their real self.
So while I might not have been painstaking with my recovery in the past, I am today, and because of it, those promises seem to be finally coming true for me and I thank my Higher Power for that…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson