Sometimes a simple question can change you. In answering it, my life was transformed. It was like seeing my world with a new pair of glasses.
For me the most radical changes that occurred in my stepwork was the 4th Step: “made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
It forced me to stare unblinkingly at the suffering my own diseased thinking had caused me and all those involved in my life.
With that insight, I was able to rebuild my life, not from my own blueprint but from the one my Higher Power drafted for my life. This rebuilt engine has powered me through the best years of my life. Just recently I celebrated 10 years of sobriety thanks to God and AA.
As I cast my mind back to the first few months of my sobriety, images appear that are as clear as yesterday. One of those images involved the step work my sponsor guided me through.
My 4th Step was fraught with illusion, but I still see clearly my sponsor and me sitting in his apartment going over my 4th Step Inventory sheet. I had no problem coming up with people I resented. I came up with six people and many situations that had caused me resentment.
Sponsor: You did a good job filling out all the columns of the sheet. It’s real thorough. All except for the last column. There’s nothing written for any of these people.
RJ: You mean the column about “Where Was I to Blame”?
Sponsor: That’s it.
RJ: A stock form doesn’t work for everybody. That column doesn’t apply for me.
RJ: Because these are the people who pissed ME off. Why should I blame myself for their bad behavior?
Sponsor: You have here that you resent your boss because you think she is incompetent?
Sponsor: Did you talk to her about it?
RJ: No, I didn’t think I should have to. I did talk about her to my colleagues who I trusted.
Sponsor: So you bad-mouthed her behind her back?
RJ: Well, I guess. Yeah.
Sponsor: Could it be that one or two of them told her what you said?
RJ: Maybe. That’s possible.
Sponsor: If you didn’t like the way she led, why didn’t you just find another job?
Sponsor: Yeah, maybe you would have found a job with a boss you could get along with.
I was struck silent. New light dawned.
Bill W. talks about the insanity of our thinking when we were in our cups.
I sat dumbfounded in my chair. I had been miserable for three years working under that woman. Why the hell didn’t I think of that solution? I could have just applied for another job! It would have been that easy. Instead, I remained in that job suffering and causing my colleagues to suffer because of my own issues with my boss.
Although this would seem to be a minor revelation to non-addicts, it was like the heavens opened and God spoke to me a colossal truth.
Aware of the magnitude of the moment, my sponsor turned to page 133 of the BB and read: “We made our own misery.”
New light was cast into the corners of my life. I thanked my sponsor for this revelation and set off determined to re-examine my 4th Step Inventory and to find the part I played in my own misery for each resentment.
That moment changed my life. In fact, it is one of the most important shifts I have made in my 10 years of sobriety. It rewired my brain and changed the way I respond to life.
It is incredibly liberating to take responsibility, even if my part is only 1 percent, for the people and events in my life that have caused me to feel resentment. As long as I blame others for the wrongs I perceive they have done to me, I do not have to change. But to grow, I must change. The snake that cannot shed its skin will die. And I will die if I do not follow this Big Book truth: that any disturbance I feel is because there is something wrong with me—something that needs to change.
Thank God for this lesson!
If you’d like to be free of your addiction, please contact me at ValuesBasedRecovery@gmail.com. I work with people who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction as well as behavioral addictions such as food, porn, and gambling. I work with clients in person or on the Zoom live video platform.
RJ Handley, Addiction Recovery Coach