By this time, at Step Ten, we had begun to get a basis for living, and we keenly realized that we would need to continue taking personal inventory, and that when we were in the wrong we ought to admit it promptly.
I want to tell a story, but it’s a difficult one to tell and not sound, to my own ear, like I’m bragging. I will have to explore talking about successes some time soon, because there are a few things I can’t share without feeling like I’m being very prideful. Sometimes, though, at an AA meeting, or with AA friends, I feel better about sharing successes because I feel that these people are mostly glad for me, glad with me.
And it’s important that I record the good things, because I am trying to be, here, a positive reflection of long time sobriety.
Almost all of my circumstances and details are good, though I know that more of that has to do with luck than with skill or even with sobriety. I was born quite privileged in many ways.
And my children are not perfect, though I don’t write about some of their more harrowing incidents here because although I’m trying to be anonymous, I’m not trying all that hard.
But the story. My son is very bright. He just is. All throughout school, he just showed up and was bright. He played one sport, which is a story in itself, but he didn’t do anything beyond that. His brightness got him excellent grades with little effort. From the time he was small, he had said that he wanted to go to the best college he could get in to. When college time came, he had one elite university in mind, and one second choice. He applied to those schools, and, because (I think because) I asked him to, he applied to several other schools. He applied to the nearest Ivy League (because it’s all about distance for me), to a nearby “New Ivy,” his second choice, and to two lesser but excellent schools.
His first choice did not accept him, I think, because being very bright and showing up is not enough. All the others did accept him, though, and he said he wanted to go to his second choice, the nearby New Ivy.
Well the nearby excellent school offered him a major scholarship, and as he didn’t accept, they upped the offer. The New Ivy offered him lots, but he’d still have to pay a lot to go there. His grandparents had saved some money for his college, but he’d need that and then some for the New Ivy. For the excellent school, he’d come out debt free with the other money still saved for future education. I was also worried a bit about him actually graduating, since I know it’s a long road and not at all certain.
I asked him to consider the excellent school. I asked him to visit the department of his proposed major at the excellent school, and to attend a class and talk to students. He did all of this, I’m sure, because I went with him. Right there is a success that means a lot to me. I would not have done this at his age, for my mother. I absolutely would not have.
After all this he chose the New Ivy, just like he’d said he would.
A year or so into it, he told me that I was right, that he should have attended the excellent school.
I’m still amazed that he admitted this to me.
I don’t know if having a sober mother helped give him the attitude that made it OK for him to express that to me. I also know it’s entirely possible that he expressed a passing thought, and is really glad he went to the New Ivy, and my feeling of success with this is really all wet.
For me there are different levels of the tenth step, with some wrongs being easier to admit promptly than others. I personally feel that it’s likely one of my more glaring defects that I don’t practice this as I should. But it is one of the very most important principles of the program, for me, and I’m very grateful that I have this ideal in my life.