Step Four of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
I can invade characters and become them. I can leave them just as quickly and see them from the viewpoint of another character.
In order to complete Step Four I practiced doing that with myself.
Step Four is a bear!
Step Four had to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s not easy to look at yourself and see all your sins, let alone make a list of them. I winced the whole time I wrote my list – and it went on for pages and pages.
The next several steps in AA concern asking for forgiveness for those things you’ve done wrong to other people. In other words, all the things you figured out in the moral inventory. The AA steps never come out and say this, but I think we need to forgive ourselves as well. I think I’m harder on me than I am anyone else.
The great things about Step Four:
- You don’t have to wait until your death bed to look back over your life. It’s right there, front and center.
- You can’t lie to yourself. The minute I screw up, I apologize.
- A common saying in AA: you don’t have the right to take anyone else’s inventory. I have a little birdie who sits on my shoulder and shakes his head the minute I start becoming judgmental. However, the birdie sometimes takes a vacation and I get snarky about someone instead of a situation. I’m a work in progress.
An oil change for my character
For me, it’s important that I do a Step Four checkup frequently. By the grace of God I haven’t had a drink in decades now, but I never take anything for granted. I live one day at a time. Doing my checkup is like an oil change on my character.
The other day I received an email from someone I hadn’t talked to in twenty years. It was the perfect opportunity for me to apologize for the way I acted the last time we talked. The odd part is that he was in my thoughts only a few days ago. You know, one of those vignettes of memory we all have. Having him email me was a gift. The minute I wrote him, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
I have never talked publicly about being an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic or whatever the label is this year. Bottom line, I don’t drink. For the last two months I’ve felt as if I were being nudged to write this post. Maybe someone out there needs to hear it. Or maybe I just needed to say it.