When we’re new to the program – our first five years or so – we typically have blind spots about how we manage ourselves around other people. In our 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th steps, we gain some insight.
If we stay teachable, this topic, more so than any other, is proof that “more will be revealed.”
The longer we stay sober, the more clarity we have about who we are and what pushes our buttons. Wouldn’t it be great if clarity was all we needed?
It’s not. At least not in my experience and I am anything but new. Knowing better doesn’t always mean doing better. Sometimes we just react – as I did on the day I wrote this.
Today I had a chance to overlook something. But I didn’t. Today I had a chance to pause when irritated. But I didn’t. Today I might have practiced restraint of tongue and pen. But I didn’t. Today I had a chance to remember how it was for me when I came in. I did, but I didn’t care.
The difference between new and now? I knew what I did. I knew my snarky, knee-jerk reaction was inappropriate. Wouldn’t it be great if knowing was all I needed to do? Sigh. It’s not.
To know that I am not God, I must accept the limitations of being human.
The amazing thing about Alcoholics Anonymous is its recognition of our humanity, imperfect and messy as we may be. We can revel in being just another bozo on the bus. We can relax, knowing we don’t have to have all the answers. We can come to grips with the fact that we are going to screw up.
The 7th Step says it very clearly: “The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear – primarily fear that we would lose something we already possessed or fail to get something we demanded.”
This is not just referencing tangible things, like people or money. It’s about pride, ego, insecurity, hurt, rejection. Self-reliance has failed us so many times and yet…
To be human is to err. To be alcoholic is to err often. Abstinence doesn’t fix that. There’s no magic wand. We are reminded that “God will not render us white as snow.”
But there is progress – spiritual progress – as we go along.
To help us become productive human beings, AA provides direction in the 10th Step: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”
One of the first things my sponsor pointed out: It doesn’t say if, it says when. But the longer I stay sober, the more the word “promptly” starts to pop.
That’s how I started my day. From irritation to apology. I don’t need to explain someone else’s part. I don’t need to take responsibility for it either. It really doesn’t matter. I just own mine, acknowledge being wrong, offer an apology and move on.
Making mistakes used to get me upset. Being less than perfect scared me. Not anymore. No human will ever be perfect. So don’t expect yourself to be. Or beat yourself up when you’re not.
How It Works says: “Do not be discouraged. No one among us maintains anything like perfect adherence to these principles.” We don’t get perfect, but we do get better.
How lucky we are to be human. And this time with directions.