Step 4

What’s wrong with you?

Why won’t you take the time to learn Word Press?

Step Four, made a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves. This is where we list character defects. This is where some people object that I am not defective. In today’s enlightened world, we are are to ask, “What happened to you?” rather than, “What is wrong with you?” I am to ask this of myself. This is where instincts on the rampage balk at investigation.

I have done several formal fourth steps. The idea for me is that I have every character defect to some degree that every other human being has. That these defects have caused all of my problems, the most serious problem being my alcoholism, because that nearly killed me. I have to name what’s wrong (what happened?) before I can effectively address is.

The literature tells me that my instincts have gone astray and overboard. I am, after all, an animal, one that seeks security and comfort and to go on indefinitely. The birds may not worry about obtaining food but they sure will fight for it when I fill the feeder. Where have I demanded more than my fair share? Where has fear crippled me when I’m afraid I won’t have enough?

This past year changed my concept of how vulnerable I can be even as I have had every need filled and more resources than I can ever use.

Now I demand answers, and none or forthcoming. I want a diagnosis and a treatment and a cure for everything that ails me even as I understand I’m privileged as few people have ever been, to reach this age in this health with all the things I bring to it.

And still, the thing that degrades my quality of life that I can control (if I ask god to remove it?) is gluttony. Overeating. Overweight. And fear, of course, and worry.

May 23, 2021 (this day)

My meeting has made masks optional. I do not approve! A few people wear them. The virus continues to go down in my community, so hoping it’s all for the good. We learned that the language of the preamble will change soon. We won’t be “men and women” but “people.” Still a fellowship, though, no sisterhood yet.

I’m struggling still with physical stuff and anxiety about it all (about the physical stuff, the virus, work and…..etc). I’m now seasonally depressed, as the sun is beating and it’s over 80 degrees. My least favorite weather.

I don’t have much to say about any of it, really. I’m continuing to turn it over by going to the doctors and doing what they say. Looking forward to a time when physical stuff and anxiety don’t intrude into every moment.

….we needed to change ourselves…(Step 4 continued)

The sponsors of those who feel they need no inventory are confronted with quite another problem. This is because people who are driven by pride of self unconsciously blind themselves to their liabilities. These newcomers scarcely need comforting. The problem is to help them discover a chink in the walls their ego has built, through which the light of reason can shine.

First off, they can be told that the majority of A.A. members have suffered severely from self-justification during their drinking days. For most of us, self-justification was the maker of excuses: excuses, of course, for drinking, and for all kinds of crazy and damaging conduct. We had made the invention of alibis a fine art. We had to drink because times were hard or times were good. We had to drink because at home we were smothered with love or got none at all. We had to drink because at work we were great successes or dismal failures.. We had to drink because our nation had won a war or lost a peace. And so it went, ad infinitum.

We thought “conditions” drove us to drink, and when we tried to correct those conditions and found that we couldn’t to our entire satisfaction, our drinking went out of hand and we became alcoholics. It never occurred to us that we needed to change ourselves to meet conditions, whatever they were.

It’s the last sentence that I want to focus on as drinking is far behind me, but conditions still abound, and change, and demand that I change myself. And changing myself is still a struggle.

My body is giving my difficulty in a long list of ways. I could do my usual gratitude list around this, and that list is extensive, but I’m going to skip it. My list of conditions I need to meet, however: ears ringing, hearing going, headache, neck ache, chest ache, hips and back ache, knees shot, feet arthritic, high blood pressure, irregular EKG? Overweight. Changing myself: losing weight (actually doing it, must continue), going to doctors, going to PT, starting yoga, monitoring my blood pressure, refraining from monitoring my blood pressure, exercising (a bit), agreeing to talk to a therapist.

I have work stress I won’t get into as it involves other people, some of whom are innocent. Let’s say serving adults who have intellectual and development disabilities, with staff who make $11 an hour, in a pandemic, is a condition I must change myself to meet.

As this is Step Four, which is a personal inventory, let me list a character defect or two that is hindering my personal change to meet conditions. For one, I’m lazy. I DON’T WANT TO MEDITATE. Confessions of an old timer. I have never been good at this. I say I’ll try and I don’t. It’s somehow easier for me to submit to yoga than to meditation. And my old friend fear. All of these conditions are shot through with it, the corroding thread (that’s somewhere in the Big Book).

So, onward. The direction is clear. The instructions are there. Writing this post at 730 in the morning, before work, is a feeble effort on my part to move forward in a more constructive manner. I would have otherwise spent the time engaging my fear around my body and my work.

March 31, 2021 (this day)

I had a companion working from home today.

I have been extremely privileged to be employed and safe through all of this. My program is actually open on a limited basis, but like lots of folks it has been found that I can do some parts better from home.

My meeting has been open for a few weeks. We wear masks and sort of distance. We made it! We’re still zooming meetings also. It amazes me how life goes on and AA goes on. A year ago I really worried about it (character defect, stop the worry). AA found a way.

Step 3

There are a few things on my mind (in my worries) that are in and out of my control.

My work is reopening. There are many details that go along with that, but uppermost in my mind is the fact that they expect me to show up. Five days a week. It’s been a while…..

Medical tests. Routine, but I’m older than I’ve ever been. I’m unhealthier than I’ve ever been.

Meetings opening. Visiting possible.

So. Did I make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God? My lengthy sobriety tells me that I did. So I’ll go forward. With the work, with the tests, with the life in the receding shadow of the pandemic. There’s some comfort in the forward motion when I realize it is not initiated or sustained by me.

January 26, 2021 (this day)

I’ve gotten my first dose of the vaccine! I’m grateful, and anxious that my mother hasn’t gotten hers. I hate it that people have to compete to get what they need.

My work place is still not open. My wife and I play hours of Animal Crossing…..

Some meetings have opened back up, but we continue to go to zoom meetings. I’ve gone to more meetings that way than I have in the past ten years, I think. I’ll be very happy if zoom meetings stay after the pandemic is over. I’ve gotten to know people and I’ve hopefully carried the message. I’m very fortunate.

….his case is not strange or different…(Step 4 continued)

At this stage of the inventory proceedings, our sponsors come to the rescue. They can do this, for they are the carriers of A.A.’s tested experience with Step Four. They comfort the melancholy one by first showing him that his case is not strange or different, that his character defects are probably not more numerous or worse than those of anyone else in A.A. This the sponsor promptly proves by talking freely and easily, and without exhibitionism, about his own defects, past and present. This calm, yet realistic, stock-taking is immensely reassuring. The sponsor probably points out that the newcomer has some assets which can be noted along with his liabilities. This tends to clear away morbidity and encourage balance. As soon as he begins to be more objective, the newcomer can fearlessly, rather than fearfully, look at his own defects.

One of the gifts of AA for me has been hearing the stories of so very many so very diverse people. This wide perspective has enriched my life in ways I can’t list or understand. And one of the principles of AA is that I am the same as everyone else. My details can be different, or they can be the same. It’s always a mix of both and I always have what is for me the most important characteristic in common with every alcoholic, and every alcoholic in recovery. This is part of what I understand to be the necessity, for me, of having AA to stay sober. I’m not strange or different. Not in the rooms.

December 20, 2020 (this day)

A friend at a meeting remarked, “In the past, I would have used over this.” In the present, I hear that as, “In the past, I would have killed myself over this.” I have to consider the seriousness of what I’m saying, thinking, feeling. I have to use the program to not reach that level of desperation anymore, not ever again.

Step 2

I was just at a zoom meeting where someone commented that we don’t need to rely on meetings, we need to rely on a higher power.

The higher power daunted me in the beginning, for sure. I still hold it as a very loose concept.

A different zoom meeting I attended read the second step from the 12 and 12 and I was convicted by this part, on page 30:

……we had substituted negative for positive thinking……this trait was an ego-feeding proposition. In belaboring the sins of some religious people, we could feel superior to all of them……..self -righteousness, the very thing we had contemptuously condemned in others, was our besetting evil. This phony form of respectability was our undoing, so far as faith was concerned. But finally, driven to AA, we learned better.

I’d like to think I’ve learned better, and maybe I have in that I can recognize it more easily now. But if I substitute conservative for religious – in belaboring the sins of some conservative people – I feel like I am back at square one.

The paragraph ends there, at “we learned better,” and it doesn’t give instructions for how to learn. Be my right size, I know. Many of the people I view negatively because of their political beliefs are certainly “better” people than I am, doing more good than I do, and possibly not viewing me negatively, the way I view them.

Trudging. The. Road.

December 6, 2020 (this day)

My AA and work life remain the same. Meetings open and close, my work place opens and closes. The virus is worse in my area that at any other time, though more things are open than were in March and April. I haven’t seen my mother in over a year, the longest time apart in my lifetime. I haven’t seen my daughter since July. That may be the longest time apart there as well.

I continue to mostly zoom with a small group of people five nights a week. People join AA who have never been to an in person meeting! This is hard for me to comprehend.

I do have a history with online meetings. I met my wife at one way back in 1996. Back then you took turns typing. It was tedious, but I did it mostly because I had small children. Once they were big enough to stay on their own while I went to a meeting, I stopped going online.

Now I wonder why, a bit. It’s super convenient. I would not attend a meeting five nights a week if I had to drive there, be there, then drive home. There was a time in my life when I was new(ish) to AA and I did that. That time is not now. I hope this online community is something that stays in the future, anyway. It will help as I have old me at home, rather than young children.

Otherwise……..people talk about post traumatic stress but I think we are still in the trauma, aren’t we? Let’s have traumatic stress and save the “post” for another day. Hopefully soon.