Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.
I have always felt that resentment was not my “number one” offender. I think, for me, it’s been fear, and a kind of resentment turned inward. I see resentment and fear and part of the same thing. I do experience resentments though, for sure. Just not quite as often as fear.
This quote, from page 64 of the Big Book, precedes the fourth step inventory. It’s saying to me that if I can dig out my character defects, I can stay sober and live well. And from where I sit, with 34 years of sobriety, I can stay sober, and I do live well. I live at least well enough to stay sober!
The promise that when my spiritual malady is overcome, I will straighten out mentally and physically….well. Again, it is all true and all well as far as it goes.
Although I’m well enough, I’m not all well, and I do believe that the program and the steps still have promise of better living for me. I read this passage, and a bit about it, and then I went to a Quaker meeting and sat silent and still for an hour. I pictured my character defect of fear as a root that does deep within me, that I can dig out and destroy almost entirely. A piece will always be alive, I know, but it can be a very small, tiny piece, one that doesn’t play an important part in any day of mine.
I am not spiritually, mentally, or physically “straight,” or well. In fact physically things are tending to trend downward at my age. But I can still do more to be more straight and well in each of these areas. I hope the fourth step I’m working on will be a step in that direction. This passage spells out that the spiritual comes first, before the mental and physical. I’ll try to keep that consciously in my mind as I go forward, especially when times are tough and I’m having an excess of negative emotion.