by Rob S

As a Los Angeles taxi driver during the 1980s, many “adventures” took place, calling for immediate use of Step Ten. For instance: Drunks vomiting in the back seat, passengers who take off running to avoid paying. One mentally ill guy announced he had no money but just wanted to go for a ride, which cost me about ten dollars on the meter. A rich family, after a thirty-mile trip to LAX, which included my heavy luggage handling, left no tip. After these sorts of adventures I was naturally experiencing anger. Maybe worse!

Luckily, AA had taught me that repeated thoughts of anger and resentment could threaten my sobriety – but what to do? This is where page 84 from the Big Book came in handy. It said to ask God, at once, to remove my anger and then to discuss my defect/shortcoming with someone. LA has clubhouses galore so “at once” was no problem. Lastly it suggests: ‘We resolutely turned our thoughts to someone we can help.” I think this could be a prayer for someone, or even planning a birthday gift. Bill Wilson’s Oxford Group mentor, Reverend Sam Shoemaker, summed up A.A. as: “Out of self, into God, into others.”

AA has provided the ability to control my mind, to some degree – at least better than before. I like to think before I think! When I feel thoughts of selfishness, dishonesty, resentment or fear coming to consciousness, I go to God for help. A simple statement such as, “Be still and know that I am God,” seems to calm me down enough to stymie destructive thoughts. What freedom!

Anger and resentment could threaten my sobriety

I have learned that when negative emotions begin to take over, Step Ten has taught me what to do. Step Ten is indeed an all-day-long step! Its rewards are beyond belief: “The problem (mental obsession) has been removed. It does not exist for us” (p. 85). That is, so long as I remain in a fit spiritual condition, Step Ten allows this to happen.

clear-cut directions in the Big Book, p. 84

Its rewards are beyond belief

Of course, the clear-cut directions mentioned on page 29, are not laid out on pages 59 and 60 of the Big Book, or on the pull-down “window shades” on the wall. These are only a preview, or a table of contents, if you will, of the Twelve Step process that is explained on the following pages of the Big Book. Bill Wilson tells you what he is going to tell you; then he tells you; then he tells you what he told you.

It was pointed out that there are five clear-cut directions on page 84, and I believe it is important to be aware how I learned how to live them in my life: “Watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear” was from Step Four; “When these crop up, we asked God at once to remove them” was from Steps Six and Seven. “We discuss them with someone immediately” was from Step Five; “Make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone” was from Steps Eight and Nine; “Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help” was in Step Twelve.

Following all this is progress, not perfection, for yours truly. Sometimes I don’t even come close. Yet, I have not had a drink since my first AA meeting. For this I remain eternally grateful.

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