Working the Steps: A New Pair of Shoes

At a convention recently, the speaker had a powerful message about comfort and change. Change often feels unnatural. We always revert to what feels comfortable.

Later at home, I realized that I have an old pair of shoes that I really like to wear. That old pair of shoes are ragged, dirty, and falling apart. However, I refuse to throw them away. My wife even bought me another exact pair that I have only worn three times. The old pair are broken in and molded and shaped to my feet. They are COMFORTABLE. But, in fact, they really are not that comfortable anymore. The soles are loose, cold air and water flow through the holes and soles. Yet, I refuse to change into those new shoes.

My addiction was and is exactly the same. My old ideas and habits were comfortable. The grooves in my brains were well-worn paths. When I was tired, I turned to lust for comfort. When I was angry or resentful, I turned to my fantasies to soothe me. When stressed at work, I turned to the internet for someone, somewhere to fix me. When my marriage was falling apart, I might change for a few months, but then turned back to my old, comfortable ways, just as I do with my old shoes.

Then one day my old ways no longer worked for me. The lust, the fantasy, the intrigue were not comfortable anymore. The cold air flowed through, my feet were wet, the soles were coming off. What I thought was comfortable was uncomfortable. “No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self-pity. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. [Lust and fantasy were] my master” (AA 8).

What next? “Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements. Simple, but not easy” (AA 13-14). I had to throw out that old “pair of shoes.” I would have to do the work, suffer the blisters required to break in the “new shoes.” This morning I did Step 11 with meditation and quiet time. During this, I received these words and put them down on paper: I will do my 3rd Step prayer and 7th Step prayer on my knees, I will call my sponsor, I will meet with a sponsee to work on his Step 1. I will do the things that are not yet comfortable.

Simple but not easy. It would be easy (comfortable) to just jump out of bed and go about my day, not connect to a Power greater than me, not answer my sponsee calls. It would be easy (comfortable) to not call my sponsor, turn to lust and fantasy instead of turning to God. Today, just for today, I remember the pain and the cold and the loneliness of that time eleven months ago, and I choose freedom from lust. As we hear at meetings: “Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely” (AA 58). Maybe it is time to throw away that old pair of shoes.

Preston D., USA

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