I had been reading my 4th Step for 3 days by now. Every night at 5:00 my Sponsor would roll up the driveway, plow frame clanging. It was winter and the snow was heavy, I'd hear him coming. We'd get down to it right away and wrap up around midnight. Same thing. Prayers, willingness, my 4th Step books open in front of me. And we begin. I read from one book to the other, back and forth. Resentments. Resentments and more resentments. I'm resentful at them usually for some petty reason and the resentment consumes me. I can think of nothing else while those who I am resentful toward are not even aware of it. All in my head, my crazy head. Selfishness, dishonesty, self-seeking motives, control, over and over. I was making it all happen even though I was convinced the world wasn't treating me right. I believed I was the victim. I was convinced they had done me wrong and my resentment was totally justified. Everything was an act of betrayal, everything was personal.
The self-pity was a huge revelation. The power of feeling sorry for myself. The "if only's". I actually believed I could insert a different outcome, a more suitable arrangement to any situation that wasn't going my way. Yeah well, if only I had money, if only I was better looking, went to better schools, lived a healthier lifestyle, if only I was somebody else? Poor me, show me some attention now as I am the fragile sparrow with the tattered wing. Come into my world and understand my plight so I can have control and feel better. Damn! Talk about an emotional vampire! Incapable of coping with reality I create my own and do my best to bring others into it, make them believers? Everything good is bad because I'm bad. Now that it's all about me? Everything bad is good. What a selfish manipulator. Pathetic really. Hey...when the worlds everything and you're nothing? Everybody's everything and you're not? This makes for a lot of self-pity, lots of self delusion. I was full of self-pity everyday! So, I had no idea what was really going on, full flight from reality as the Book said.
Now, there were some big fat justified resentments where I was hurt, blindsided by another who may have been as sick as myself so the resentment did seem justified and it may have been. Hey, life isn't fair right? But when I saw myself in it? How I handled it? It was as if yes they hurt me but then I went ahead and destroyed myself with the resentment. The truth was clear. I could not handle resentment big or small. Coping skills, yeah..I had no coping skills. When I was resentful? I just came apart. I self destructed daily. It was clear by now I had no other options besides heavy alcohol use, I wasn't going to change. I just had to do my best to shut it all off! The resentments consumed me, bound me tight. I swear, I would make them up sometimes, not understanding how the Book referred to "trains of circumstance". I thought I was creating new resentment when really? I was reliving old hurt, old anger and selfish unresolved pain so I could feel the power, the anger, wallow in the self-pity. That's what resentment was. Re-living..
I had a habit of assuming a negative outcome and blaming it on others? I would always assume the worst. Always jockeying for position. Me against them. Others would steal my control, steal my selfishness and leave me empty and afraid. I had to lash out! Fight for what was mine, the power they stole! They had a bb gun I had a 22. They had a 38 I had a nuke. I was an extremist! I see it now! I couldn't escape myself any longer. I really was my own worst enemy...
I mean, I was only writing this stuff, began working these AA Big Book 12 Steps because I was boxed in sober, caught? The booze stopped working and people to use were hard to come by even in AA. This Big Book 12 Steps was just like they said, my way out. I really was beyond human aid. A hopeless failure. Who would have thought there was a Spiritual realm. A place for those like me to see themselves as they are. Get some answers and change. I was getting bursts of gratitude. I was grateful for just being in the day. The self-pity was slipping away.
All this writing and now reading, surrendering. I'd get a tiny inkling that maybe others were sick also. Probably not as whacked out as I was but sick just the same. Everything I resented wasn't some moral issue against me. I saw myself and I saw them too. I began to lighten up. The more I saw myself and my own conduct I was less prone to just blame everyone for anything and everything. As if I had stopped taking hostages. It was clear, I was creating this stuff. It was a relief I had never felt. I began let go of the uniqueness, weird. As if I could see where I was at fault and was relieved? I was becoming somewhat accountable? Responsible? I was becoming less interested in surviving and more interested in just living, being a part of by simply being whoever I was. Where did all the fear go? I surrendered it really, let it go to God. I wasn't some freak. I was living with untreated alcoholism. The self-hate fell off me like a pair of baggy pants. The change was happening. All this work and a change was happening. Resentments, man. The Book said they had the power to kill. They were definitely killing me! Like a loop in which I continue to make myself pay for who I continue to be. Self-will run wild.
But now we were moving on to fear. To the fear notebook. Ok. I'm ready for fear. I opened it. and began reading aloud to my Sponsor and my God. Just like I had been doing with my resentments. It basically said in the fear directions of my 4th in the Big Book that fear itself was an evil and corroding thread woven through my existence. Self centered fear? Oh boy, holy cow was I full of fear. I was dominated by fear. I had no idea. Actually until now? I didn't know what fear was. I thought fear only applied to sharks or falling or stuff like that, big hairy spiders with teeth. I didn't understand fear was an inside job. My selfishness, my self-centeredness, my fear, it was all connected. It determined how I acted, what I thought, fear controlled me. There was a list of fears I had accumulated from my resentments under the "affects my" column. Each one of these fears were written down and there were questions to be answered for each in the fear notebook. I had maybe a hundred or so fears, answered the questions to each so, it was just about a full notebook. I began reading. Oh boy.. Daddy again! He was first on everything. I had major Daddy issues. I was dangling on a three barbed hook for most if not my entire life believing I would somehow be transformed into somebody worth living if only I would get his approval.. I can still have my moments but that's all they are really, moments. It's more like a catch and release thing than an obsession.
FEARS (1) Daddy doesn't love me.
Why I had it? -
It went back to my first memory. My clear picture, the reoccurring tunnel vision, 4 years old. Covering myself in the corner while Daddy screamed and hit me. This couldn't be the same love my Mother had for me or my Grandmother..Love is supposed to be a good thing? I didn't know either way.
Where did self reliance fail? -
I was sent to my room to wait for him to get home. I was afraid sure but not overwhelmed. I didn't really understand what I did that was so wrong. But when he came in the room blazing. Swinging and screaming? I had never imagined anything like that. I forgot everything I knew about anything. I was completely traumatized. Shut down. Emotionally broken so, no emotion? No love. My self reliance ended with my suitable arrangement. What I thought was more important than how I felt. How I felt was bad.
Where was I cocky? -
From then on and not even realizing it, I kept my distance. Never sure when it would happen again or what I would do to create it. All I knew was I was bad so, I became bad. I was bad at school, I was bad everywhere. So extremely self centered now I hardly did what I was told because I could no longer listen through the fear. Things didn't register properly. As if I was always in a fog and trying to get out, trying to outrun the fog. He didn't talk to me and I didn't listen if he did. I was never the same. Never came home. Ran away a lot. I'll show you! I don't need you! When in fact his opinion of me was my reason for living. Like the Book said" When I was cocky it was worse.
What is the better way?-
Trusting and relying on my God. I have come to believe in the Spiritual. The Higher Power underlying the totality of life. I am a believer. It is a way of courage and strength to face life. I have broken the chain that bound me to him. When he died I went down to his place and cleaned up his mess. I felt it was my job as a son so I did it. When I was cut from the will I was devastated at first at the dysfunction of it all but then realized. Nothing had changed on his end with me. He was never mine and nothing he had was either. I am my own man. I answer to my God, I have broken the chain of selfishness and fear. I have been Spiritually reset. Lost and now found.
So.. the Big Book said... trains of circumstance brought us misfortune we felt we didn't deserve but, did not we ourselves set the ball rolling? Wow.. How one fearful situation can set the stage for a lifetime. I was willing to surrender my fear. My fears fell from me just like the Book said.. I felt the power of the Spirit flow in me. The power of understanding I had lacked. It was good. I had gotten answers, finally gotten some answers.
The thought came over me, how many in AA never know what's in these Big Book 12 Steps. The next thought was it's probably good they don't need to. If you've got options? Any options at all? Take them. It's true what they say, once you do this work, you're not coming back.
I had wrapped up my fear Book. surrendered it in one sitting, ready to move on to the last part, sex. I had my Sex conduct notebook. It was extensive, oh.. not because I was a smooth operator, no. Because I'd do anything with anyone who would like me. Sex, like me so I can like myself. Sex was something I could throw my dysfunctional emotions at and get at least a temporary response in return. But it wasn't taken lightly, I had used sex as a key or multi-pass to using people. More answers. More of me written down in detail, all of me ready to surrender. I was nervous here. I trusted my Sponsor sure, but still? I was nervous. We prayed, opened the books and got down to it. Just like the fear part and the resentments. It's just that here, in my sex conduct I wasn't just letting the cat out of the bag, I was letting everything out. I was a bit worried about where it would all end up after it got out. My Sponsor said it goes to God. I believed him and to this day he was right. That was over 30 years ago at this writing. Nothing has ever come back to me. Everything was in confidence.