In such states, a good, old-fashioned fear inventory is helpful.
Page 68 of the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous' is where we start. "We reviewed our fears thoroughly."
So I do a stream of consciousness of what I'm scared of.
In this case, it's my own character defects. "Angry, critical, offensive, self-deluded, incorrigible." Then comes the question: "We asked ourselves why we had them." (The fears, not the defects).
You see, the thing that the fear focuses on is rarely what it's really about. It's the network of consequences, conclusions, and inferences that light up every time the fear is touched off, like forked lightning visible for a moment and then gone but burned onto the retina or a nervous system that jangles from tip to toe from an electrical shock and continues to smart for hours afterwards.
This is where the damage is done.
In this case, the fear is that my defects will impact on and influence those around me, with, naturally, devastating effect (I'm that powerful, my ego thinks). That I will bring unhappiness, discord, resentment, and disunity, on a global scale. Ha! And then what?
Find the fleeting thoughts that flash for a moment then rest in darkness, evil and corrosive (cf. p. 67:3).
- that something inside me has irrevocably broken;
- that recovery was only ever a dream;
- that I will cease functioning and cease being useful;
- that beyond the medieval map of the Steps lie dragons, and I'm gonna be chomped;
- that there is no hope;
- that there is no God—or only a cruel, laughing, humiliating God;
- that God is nothing (cf. p. 53:2).
"Wasn't it because self-reliance failed us?"
I have certainly been off-beam, consumed with my own opinions and judgements, about what I want from AA, about what I want AA to be or become (how grand is that?)
This is pure pride, the putting of self in the place of God as the centre and main objective of my life. And from this flows self-reliance, and listening to my own noisy authorities rather than the quiet voice of God.
And the fear that this ultimately engenders when the ego bubble bursts—that God is nothing—is precisely where this all started.
My agnosticism, when it returns, is ultimately self-created: it is the active denial of God that ultimately brings about the terror of Godlessness.
As usual, the fear inventory leads me back to the only solution available to me: that God is everything. And this really is a choice. Because living as though God is nothing is not only possible but temporarily inviting and exhilarating.
My friend Tom says, 'when you fall off your horse, get right back on it.'
Back on the horse: how can I carry the vision of God's will into all my activities? How can I best serve him? His will be done! (P. 85:1)
In communicating this and setting my plan for the rest of the day, my fears have fallen from me (p. 75:2); at once, I have commenced to outgrow fear (p. 68:3).