This is my most important, life-long goal and quest, to rid myself, as much as possible, of my character defects.
Thirty years down the road of sobriety in AA, I hope I have minimized my character defects to an excellently low-level. Humility prevents me from asserting that I have. Regardless of how few and tiny my character defects are, I must continue to chip away at them. I must. I believe it makes me happier, the smaller they get, and that is the motive behind so much of what I do every day. But I also believe that it keeps me interested in and engaged in AA in important ways.
I understand that it’s a severely defective character that will continue to engage in alcoholic drinking despite growing consequences and the ultimate chance such a person takes each and every time he picks up a drink – that he won’t be able to stop, that he’ll injure some innocent bystander, that he’ll injure himself in such a way as to make further choices impossible. I understand mostly because I did it. Also because I talk to people on a regular basis who do it. Another blessing of AA. I can see in them and in my former self the selfishness, childishness, anger, self-pity, and on and on that makes such a drastically bad lifestyle possible. I had to change or die.
But now, the stakes are not so high, the consequences are not too drastic. But it has definitely become a way of life.
Recently, my uncle died, and he had been on the alcoholic down slide for many years. I didn’t try to talk to him about my solution (AA) until it was too late. I called after he was probably dead, and I picture him there, dead, while my voice reaches out over the answering machine. Too late.
I fully realize that even if I’d tried to reach out years ago, it probably wouldn’t have worked. But it might have. I’ve been thinking about what I do wrong for enough years now to know when it hits me hard. I’m shy, I’m introverted, I’m quiet. I don’t like confrontation. I have a solution to the alcohol problem that I’m so quiet, I keep to myself?
So my oldest friend is having trouble with her daughter, and it took me an entire week to almost call her until I finally did. Of course I’m glad I did. Of course that’s the person I want to be.
I know that I have to do the actions that are frightening, uncomfortable, not me (the way I am now) to become the me I can and should be. Just like the drinking me had to stop doing that.
I read my own list of character defects and try to concentrate on one at a time. When I recognize that I’m engaging in it, I stop and take mental or actual note of the circumstances and, if it’s appropriate and not too late, I correct the action. It’s my understanding today that it by acting in the way I know I should act that it will become second nature. Maybe more. It’s first nature to me today not to drink, and that is an incredible miracle. Ask Isabel. She was there.