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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

HUMILITY

One of the very foundations of a 12 Step program is that of “humility”. Many think “anonymous” to us just means the same as “confidential”. Actually this is but a small part of a very deep spiritual principle. “Anonymous” is defined by the dictionary in part as “a state of bearing no name”. When we as individuals come into this program, we become part of the group. This group is part of a “power greater” than ourselves. When we “bear no name” it's because we are no longer Jody, or Paige, or Becky or John. We become “anonymi”, or individual members of the group like spokes on a wheel, where we can then tap into an even great energy than ourselves collectively. A wheel can travel much farther than a spoke alone.

This also is why we don't have “female” groups or “transgender” groups. We make no distinctions between our members because there are no “female” members vs. “male” members because NO member is either “above” nor “below” nor “different”. The MINUTE we make any “distinctions” between our members for any reason, whether that be about age, race, sexual identity, or for any reason whatsoever, is the minute we allow “division” into our group. This “division” is what blocks us from the realization in God's eyes we'll all His children. We often fight this because to realize we're “all God's children” puts us on the same level in our minds as those who have abused and harmed us.

I used to look at it this way – you can go into a supermarket and see before you aisles of different sodas ranging from diet, diet caffeine free, sugar free, dye free, and so on and so on. You can also realize that no matter what the differences are though they each are just “soda”. We don't want to all be “just soda” however because then the nasty “sugar free, caffeine free, dye free” then becomes the same as all soda – putting us on the same level as those who did great harm to us in some cases. No better, no less than puts others on level with us that can make us truly uncomfortable.

This is why we insist our meetings are open to anyone regardless of their gender, sexual identity, or even what they did in the sex industry itself. Who is to say that someone who was a pimp or madam can't come to our program when they too share the common desire to “leave the sex industry and find recovery”?

Do we say because they were “predators” or “exploited others” they don't belong here? Who among us has the right to judge this line of distinction? Are we saying that the prostitute who robbed their “johns” or knowingly exposed them to an HIV/AIDS virus by taking more money not to have protected sex, or who recruited a juvenile into the industry with us because it made us more money, is any “less” of a predator simply because they called themselves a “prostitute”? What about those of us who were forced to recruit others into the industry by force or fear? Is it any better or worse if the fear was that of starvation than of a gun? Again, who is to decide where these lines are when we know the only one who can truly judge our hearts at the end of the day is not man. This is why we have “one requirement for membership” only. No one is going to stand at the door blocking some over others because their past is viewed as “different” than any other in the rooms. We're all the same once we cross the threshold into our meeting as “anonymous” members.

It's said you can't recover without the “H.O.W.” of this program which is “honesty, open-mindedness and willingness”. But again the very foundation of this program is that it's an “anonymous” one. It's important therefore to yes be “honest, open-minded and willing” but it means nothing if you're viewing yourself as different from other members for any reason. The Steps are there to walk you through how to deal with whatever it is you're “powerless” over.

But even this was challenged when the first African-Americans started coming to Alcoholics Anonymous back when segregation was actually still upheld and legal. There was legitimate concerns allowing some of them to attend meetings could result in some meeting halls, or even homes, being burned down by racists. To address this, the Traditions were developed on how we “play with others”, and society at large. Looking back it's probably one of the reasons why not only AA is still growing strong, but why the process still continues to create miracles because of how it's created a “system” where one can tap into a Higher Power when all man made efforts have failed. Even Jesus himself was attacked when he taught God loved “everyone” whether Jewish or Gentile. So the idea we are “all the same” is truly still a revolutionary one.

Which is why we want to address the very important fact not only must we understand that as an “anonymous” program there are no distinctions among us in our rooms such as “male”, “female”, “white”, “black”, or even “prostitute” vs. “pimp” or “madam”. There is only ONE requirement for membership, and so long as you meet that requirement you're welcome here. But we can't welcome anyone, even ourselves, into recovery if we don't first get the concept of “humility”. For some of us, this means we also need to get off the “victim” podium and start realizing we did some things worthy of an “amends” ourselves.

In Alcoholics Anonymous they say the number one reason for relapse is “resentment”. What we've seen over and over again is the number one reason why someone doesn't get out, or find recovery, in our program is the lack of “humility”. This includes feeling our pain is somehow bigger than anyone else's too. We also tend to have strange ideas something of what we're “proud” of as well coming into the program.

We come from a strange place when we find it less “humbling” to give someone a blow job in a back alley or back seat of a car than we do to simply ask others for help or to do an “honest day's work”. This is how twisted up our disease has got us when we're doing things over people would consider truly “humiliating” but yet we take pride in just that same action. Remember while some of us are putting down that mother of three who is working at that fast food restaurant for minimum wage, she would rather work two of those jobs than to do the things we're doing. Because the truth is money has nothing to do with “humility” or “value”. This same mother is trying to reach her children “values” which is more important to her than the dollar amount she's bringing into the house. In other words, she has “pride” in her choices and wants to teach her children some things just aren't for sale.

Which is why we have a 4th step to help us sort out all those differences between where “pride” can be harming or saving us. To understand the differences between “humble” and “humiliation”. Something many of us have great confusion about being we're coming out of a world where everything's been all twisted upside down for us. The alcoholic has some instances where alcohol can be viewed as a social event taken for a celebration. The addict sees some drugs are used to save lives. But there's no instance we can see where the sex industry is something positive for anyone involved. Therefore to justify our actions, we've had to twist things all upside down even between “right” and “wrong”.

Once we had a woman call the hotline from a motel room. She'd paid for the night but didn't have money for another night while not having a job yet. She was in the motel in the first place she said because she'd decided to quit prostitution, and as a result had also been evicted out of her apartment. The last cash she had went into the motel room and she was calling us asking to help her pay for the room.

We asked her if she wanted us to pay for the room, or show her how to not solve her problems with prostitution. She didn't understand the distinction. To pay for her room was not going to teach her how to get through life, and economic problems, without resorting to prostitution, or turning to other people to take care of her. We assured her when the motel came to her in the morning asking her to leave, she had the legal right to refuse. The motel had to give her a 24 hour lock-out notice legally. During this time frame, we knew of a social services program she could go down to and ask them for help with a voucher which would take care of the motel while she either found work or got into public housing.

She responded she didn't want the “humiliation” of staying over in the motel without paying them in cash. We responded we could show her how to get through this without resorting to going out on the corner to get cash to bail her out of this situation because we'd done this ourselves, and with other members, and knew we could help her get from point a to point b without turning a trick. I had been illegally evicted once myself and literally in this position. I went to the manager and said I would be fighting the eviction while seeking assistance, but assured them they would be paid. They actually agreed to work with me so they got paid and I even stayed there for a few months until I was able to get into another apartment. Everyone won and I didn't relapse. But I would have found it more “humiliating” to have resorted to sex work to solve the problem. I also knew God would find me a solution – as long as I was willing to take that solution.

This woman however cited this was “too embarrassing to her” to go and speak to her motel manager about her situation, and decided to go out on the corner to get the cash rather than to try to ride this out in another manner. In other words, she didn't want the “humiliation” in her mind of telling the motel manager she didn't have the cash to pay them the next morning. We however knew if she would have just “humbled” herself and talked to them like many people have who have found themselves in just such a financial jam, then we could get her through this without her having to resort to relapsing back into prostitution.

Should we have paid her rent? If at the first sign of financial struggle she was willing to go back on the street corner, then this would have been money wasted. We would have been no different than any “john” hearing her sob story and reaching for our wallet. Doing this would have saved her nothing. Because if that was her mind set, then the next time her check was late, she got fired, a client screwed her over on her paycheck, or any other financial crisis hit her that her first response was going to be to think of prostitution as her “back up option” then we saved her from nothing.

We're not here to hand out money. It's not in accordance with our 7th tradition for one and doesn't teach her how to rely upon herself for her solutions. It was her who felt like turning to financial aid and having to tell that manager she didn't have any cash was more “humiliating” than going out to have sex with a strange man for money. No thought being given to how that could be that “last trick” who murdered her, raped her, gave her a lethal disease, or even was an undercover cop who would arrest her.

Should Alcoholics Anonymous offer to pay the rent to every member who drinks up their paycheck and then can't pay their landlord once the binge is over? Who comes crying into the meeting “save me” from their bad decisions? We didn't create the situation this woman was in. She hadn't called us for help when she made up her mind to quit the industry without a plan in place about her rent which got her evicted in the first place. We weren't the ones who put her in a motel when we might have been able to let her stay with a member had she called our hotline sooner. But as long as she's blaming us for her rent not being paid – she's not getting out of “whore mentality” either.

This was clearly her setting up her “self-fulfilling prophecy” many of us do so we can justify to ourselves “well we tried to stop” and then cite off why it didn't work as to why they returned. This is no different in our minds than the addict who went back to using because “being clean didn't work”. This thinking is clearly not that of someone who has truly surrendered it doesn't work in the long run and money is the same deception that the high is to an addict that keeps them coming back again and again thinking it “will work this time”. Bailing someone out on their rent is not helping them leave the sex industry behind.

Leaving the sex industry is going to require adjustments which also require humility in order to be able to do them. You might have to move into a cheaper apartment, turn in your car for a cheaper model, buy generics at the market, and make all kinds of adjustments while you're finding your way out. These are the same things everyone else has gone through finding their way through life also. It's only our perceptions which can't make the distinction between being “humble” and being “humiliated”. We can assure you there are many others who feel having another person expend their body fluids onto your body is way more “humiliating” than cleaning a house or walking a dog for a living. We've also learned God will provide us with the “power to carry out His will”. Maybe it's not God's will for us to be wearing a $5,000 designer dress while putting ourselves through school. Maybe instead of stripping to pay for our tuition, maybe we need to be out asking for some grants, loans or scholarships.

All of this comes back to where money can't define us nor be the basis of our self-esteem in this “anonymous” program. Because if we are truly “all the same” around here, than even we can't judge each other based on such external things either. Social acceptability does not equate recovery with us anymore than our bank balance defines our recovery either. If there are no differences between us as “male” or “female” members, then there's also no differences between those of us living on an SSI disability check vs. those of us living in a mansion or making six figures a year in their own company. We're the same around here whether we arrive at the meeting on the bus or driving a Ferrari. Something we've literally seen at our meetings by the way.

The only thing that counts around here is those of us who have had a “spiritual awakening” and are thus reaching out to help others. That we've living the life God is having us surrender to. Once we've had the self-obsession leave us to where we realize we realize we're all connected, that our “personal recovery depends upon SWA unity”, then these are the role models we look up to around here.

Being of service is one of the best ways we know of to learn true “humility”. It's why many treatment programs have new patients going out cleaning the bathroom floors with a toothbrush. We think that's misguided and a form of “humiliation” actually because you're not benefiting the group using an ineffective cleaning method.

There is nothing which can build your value up more than being of service to the group, or those who “still suffer”, because that puts you in a position of “giving” rather than “taking”. So if you need to become more of the group, want to walk a more spiritual road, and fill up that “hole” in your spirit – then ask us how you can be of service. Our “leaders are but trusted servants”. Meaning until you can serve, you aren't ready to lead. The same holds true in all our affairs.



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