* We become willing to straighten out the past if we can.
This is the big one! This is what carries us into the rest of the steps.
Because next is sharing our inventories with someone (in the fifth step), which lets us learn a lot more from what we’ve written. And after that comes the willingness to have all our baggage be lifted (step 6) and actually turning it over (step 7)… and then becoming willing to make amends for the harm we’ve caused to anyone, including ourselves. (step 8 — actually doing it is step 9)
A thorough inventory exposes what is harming us, or has harmed us. It also exposes where we have had a hand in that harm, and where that damage has led us (intentionally or unintentionally) to cause harm in the world.
This, again, is SHAME-FREE. Here’s an example: I co-parented a child for eight years out of sheer codependency. Love, too, obviously, but the reason I got involved was because my roommate was detoxing from heroin and trying to deal with memories of child abuse, and asked me to take over her half-time parenting duties while she dealt with all that. Which turned out to be “while she stopped dealing with all that, moved to Santa Cruz, and then moved to Seattle.”
The kid’s birth mom was abusive, and he and I quickly developed a very strong parent-child relationship while he continued living with me half-time (aka while I was trying to “rescue” him). I did a lot to help him feel loved and supported and able to grow, and I also owe him lots of amends, some of which I’m still figuring out. In one example, pre-recovery, when he was maybe 3 years old, his mom asked me to hand him off to her at a local… I don’t know what to call it, like a neighborhood festival, but themed around sex stuff… and I did. I didn’t even see anything wrong with doing that, at the time. (Did I mention I didn’t have any boundaries?)
I had a lot of shame around that for a long time, and it really played into the shame I carried from my own childhood abuse. I hope to be able to make amends to him later this year (when I finally get to see him again) for the times that my COSA stuff led to him being in harmful situations. But thanks to these steps, I can recognize that I harmed him, in ways I would never have wanted to, without exploding into a permanent cloud of shame, and I can hope to help fix it.