As many of you know, I am an alcoholic and I use the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as the pathway to my recovery. And I am currently on the 4th step of this program: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” This step involves the listing of resentments, figuring out the causes, understanding how it affects you and then determining your own role in the resentment. I get it. It cleans your house of all the b.s. in your life.
And I fucking hate it.
The reality is that every time I have attempted this in the past, I have gone back out and took up drinking again. It’s the whole “what’s my role?” in the listing of resentments that begins to piss me off. For example, as you can imagine, I had recently discussed one of my major resentments – probably my biggest resentment – and I have a difficult time seeing how I’m to blame for it. And every time I’ve tried to deal with it, my emotions get so heightened I have chosen to drink over it. I always drank to eliminate my feelings and emotions. I get stuck at this point in my recovery.
But I’m desperate to change myself and fix myself for the better, so I did what makes absolute sense to me – I consulted the internet to figure out how to do my 4th step. I got a lot of ideas, obviously. I even asked the fellowship on people I met on Twitter known as #RecoveryPosse to get the help. A lot had great ideas and I tried following the ideas suggested and I felt like I was making real progress until I spoke to my sponsor about my 4th step. He called and asked how I was doing on it and I told him about all the progress I had made and that it is the furthest I have ever gotten. I expressed how I found a really easy way to do it and had been doing everything except addressing what my role was in each situation. I explained how difficult it was for me and I just wanted to get through it and this seemed like the way.
Then the ball dropped…
He said, “Why do you think you’re doing this?”
I replied, “Ummm…to get sober.”
His response, “Do you think that’s going to happen if you keep avoiding what makes you uncomfortable…?”
In my mind, I replied, “Fuck off!”, but I said, “I hear you…I just don’t see how it’s my fault when I’ve been hit.” To that, he explained that I am not responsible for another person’s actions, but how I respond to them has everything to do with my resentments. It is the thing that I have to look at ways to change my behavior.
And the light went off…
Not everything has to fixed or solved at this moment. This whole thing is a process and I have to make decisions that are principled, designed to lead to a more positive end. Although some things are not my fault, the responsibility of what is in my lap (i.e. what I can control) is always mine – even if I didn’t ask for it. And it’s true, I didn’t ask for this situation in this way, but it’s here. It’s mine. I have to deal with it.
Today is day 99 of my sobriety, and I have faced my fears more than I have in a long time – if ever.