July 31, 2022 (this day)

When I first began to understand the steps, and especially Step 6, I thought I would never, ever be able to “take” it because I would never, ever, speak to my mother’s husband again. I understood that this was symptomatic of a character defect of mine, but I also understood that I would never, ever, ask God to remove it. It was honestly my first thought about the matter.

My father died from alcoholism when he was 33 and I was 6. I’m an only child possibly because he was too sick to have more. My mother remarried when I was 9, and I stopped speaking to her husband when I was 10. He was 45, but that is beside the point.

We could analyze and quibble and I’m sure there’s a very lengthly story there, but just to be accurate here I will say there was no abuse of me, physical or psychological, thought he did psychologically abuse his son who lived with us, and that was hard to grow up around. Mostly he was a loud, obnoxious, vexatious person and one night while I was in the hospital with a dislocated knee, and he was complaining about being there in the middle of the night, I told him he didn’t have to come and he said he was done talking to me. This was 50 years and he’s kept his word.

Now I’m 60 and he’s 95 and he’s failing and in some crazy twist of fate I’m looking at assisted living places for him to live in. Near me. In a city very far from where he’s ever lived and where I’m sure he never wanted to go (see John 21). He also has lots of money, much more than I have, and two adult children who have much more than I have, one of them living near him. Twist of fate.

It’s of course because my mother is still very much in the picture. She didn’t expect him to live this long and had thought she’d be able to move to be near me some time ago.

I can’t imagine how he and I will maintain our not talking through this next little while.

But looking back on my distress about this situation – I was worried it would prevent my sobriety over 40 years ago. I’ve gotten and stayed sober and maintained my silence. I still feel like a fraud over it, because it wouldn’t take a deep dive into AA to know I shouldn’t have gone on like this for all this time. But it did not prevent my sobriety. Maybe it falls into the category of “maybe some day” like the 12 and 12 describes, but those days are dwindling.

Other character defects are being triggered by the situation, including resentment toward his children who aren’t helping and the fact that they will inherit his wealth although not only am I doing this now, but I also had to suffer growing up with him and they did not. The part about him being 45 while I was 10 and of course my mother’s role in all of this.

My AA given objective is to lessen those resentments and meanwhile not to let them know I’m feeling resentful. To be continued.

Let’s Ponder the Need for a List (Step Four continued)

Now let’s ponder the need for a list of the more glaring personality defects all of us have in varying degrees. To those having religious training, such a list would set forth serious violations of moral principles. Some others will think of this list as defects of character. Still others will call it an index of maladjustments. Some will become quite annoyed if there is talk about immorality, let alone sin. But all who are in the least reasonable will agree upon one point: that there is plenty wrong with us alcoholics about which plenty will have to be done if we are to expect sobriety, progress, and any real ability to cope with life.

Two things. First, I was at a meeting this very morning where the topic was resentment, and someone complained about the term “character defect.” She said, “We’re not defective!” And, by the way, I’m glad that “character defects” caught on rather than index of maladjustments.

Second, I belong to small group of close AA friends who frequently, when someone shares a manifestation of a character defect, remark, “That’s OK! You’re only human! We have to be easy on ourselves!”

This paragraph says that anyone who is in the least reasonable will agree that there’s plenty wrong with us, and that plenty will have to done about it.

So, by degrees. The woman who made the first comment about not being defective has two years of sobriety. The women who say we’re only human have considerably more. I always think about, and I started writing because to me, there is no much different in later sobriety than in beginning sobriety. Sure, as an active alcoholic I had plenty wrong with me. I was actually a menace. It was, to my understanding, a major defect that tried to kill me and risked innocent bystanders too. Now, after decades of sobriety, I’ve lived in many ways a “good” life and have helped some people along the way.

I feel like I still need this list, and like it isn’t all taken care of in Step 10. I believe the 12 and 12, and it says that we all have all these defects in varying degrees. I believe that. At this point I believe that I can still have sobriety, make progress, and increase (or at least slow the decline) of my real ability to cope with life. These are things I want. Here’s the way, the map, the directions.