Character or Author?

The origins of 12-step recovery are found in a proto-Christian organization called The Oxford Group. The Oxford Group believed in an 1st Century Christian approach to Christianity, focusing mostly on an experiential, Sermon-on-the-Mound kinda Christianity—pure, unstructured, with an emphasis on the experience of God over the prescription of how one might meet God. One of Oxford’s key principles that carried over to 12-step is the idea of restitution, which informed the 8th and 9th steps: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all,” and, “Made amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
The reasons to do the 8th and 9th step are manifold, but one of the key reasons involves making revisions on the past as we know it to exist. Through directly confronting our pasts and gaining closure as best we can, we are contradicting the objectionable aspects of ourselves. If we stole, for example, and repaid the person or institution we stole from, we are creating a new experience of ourselves—one that might better reflect who we want to be versus who we’ve been.
On the other hand, if we have an outstanding injury to another, we are remain bound to that injury and remain an unrepentant injurer. While this status as injurer may be an active choice in many regards, it’s more often a passive or unconscious choice—we’d just rather not deal with; we’d rather not confront this person or place for fear of reprisal; we’d rather not pay money, find out the full extent of our injuries, or whatever. And yet insofar as we repeatedly shirk conscious reconciliation for unconscious avoidance, we are at the mercy of our past. We cannot write a new future because the last chapter was never completed.
I was discussing these ideas today with some friends and I chimed in to this effect. I said that most likely every situation where there is a negative pattern is reflective of some lack of resolution in the past. I thought about every loose end: books, projects, relationships, and I drew a correlative with my disempowerment with each of those situations: I can’t finish one book because I didn’t finish the other, my project is stalling because I eschewed my previous one, I find myself with the same woman because I had no closure with the previous one.
So the question remains for me: do I want to be a character or a writer in my story? Am I willing to do whatever is necessary to transcend these human problems and move onto something bigger?

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