As an active alcoholic, he found fault in others to feel good about himself. His Fourth Step inventory helped change all that
I can’t complain about my life, growing up. Oh, I drank too much at times, but I was happy with the way it turned out. The same could be said about how I made out as a parent. I had a wife and two kids while working at jobs making the most I could per hour. Most years paying the bills was all I managed to do with proficiency. It was during those years that I spent a lot of time looking for the party that was getting harder and harder to find. After a mutually acceptable divorce and grandchildren now in the picture, I found myself living alone in a one-acre home not far from work. That’s where it finally happened, I miscalculated my Sunday drinking and in a terrified state called off work on Monday morning. That night after coming in and out of consciousness watching shows I had no interest in, I awoke for the last time in this terrified state and realized the booze wasn’t taking it away. That’s when I drove to the ER and admitted I was an alcoholic that didn’t want to drink anymore.
What happened next is my story of recovery, I don’t prescribe it as the path for all to take. It’s just the one I took. After much convincing the ER doctor let me go home with a prescription that had a line in it that read: “Attend AA meetings.” I found a meeting online at an area church that Tuesday at noon. Recovery began after I admitted I was alcoholic, came to believe there was help, and I decided to use that help. After a year or so of doing little more than these three Steps I was ready and willing to move on. I found someone to help me and I started making an inventory. It was a written process where I answered questions about my life from childhood to adulthood. Up to that point I had viewed life as a random set of occurrences, but in this exercise I put all the people and events of my life into an accessible and discernable account. It was as if I had been tasked with organizing a library that had all its books randomly scattered about, and I was treating every book as a resource that needed put on a shelf where it could be accessed in the future. Before claiming I was done, I asked someone to go over it with me and suggest possible changes. All in all, it was a truly rewarding exercise. I gained a lot of clarity unpeeling the many interwoven layers of events and people in my life, and for the first time saw myself as the sum of many pieces rather than as a piece at a time.
Having a bigger picture in hand and an experience that gave me reason to continue, I began the process of improving my character by striving towards higher principles. The character changes I made provided a sense of self-worth that enabled me to make amends to those I had harmed. It also gave a reason to take future daily self-evaluations that with prayer and meditation sustain me.
I believe I have had a spiritual experience by following the suggestions offered in AA. A spiritual experience that gives me the privilege of carrying a message of what I experienced to those who still suffered when I least expect. These come at meetings, in phone calls, and in random encounters I have as I deal with my other affairs. Today, it’s a matter of looking for how I can be of service, a matter of how I can give back, and it is not about finding faults in others. You see, I remember where I came from. A time when as an active alcoholic I needed to find fault in others in order to feel good about myself.