I’ve been reflecting more about my early work on Step 4. I had only a few months of sobriety under my belt, and I had lots of hard thinking to do for that “searching and fearless moral inventory.”
I remember being so scared to try Step 4. Thankfully, I was working on it with a group of people who were all in A.A. Together, we were all thinking about and struggling through that inventory.
One of the really tough things to do was to stop lying. And who was I lying to the most? Myself. In the insanity of drinking and drugging, I made up stories and excuses, I rationalized my behaviour and I lied.
It takes a lot of skill to learn to lie to yourself, but I got really good at it. Don’t admit that you are hanging out with some bad people. Don’t see the scary situations you find yourself in. Don’t think about drinking and driving. Don’t worry about other choices you know you will regret in the morning. Just keep telling yourself it’s all good. That was me. I got so good at lying to myself that I was less and less in touch with the truth, and my masks got so thick that I couldn’t find myself behind them. Talk about insanity!
Working through Step 4 meant looking back at the risks I took for myself, the lack of good care for my true friends, all those bad decisions, and the danger I put other people in when I got on the road after drinking. (I did stop drinking and driving 2 years before I sobered up, finally making the choice that I could drink OR drive, not both.)
As I took inventory, I found it very hard to write down all of the bad things, careless things, foolish things, hurtful things and just plain dangerous things that I did while drinking and drugging. I tell you, my inventory went on for pages and pages!
I remember getting up after a session of taking that first searching and fearless moral inventory. I sobbed really hard as I wrote. At the end of an hour, I was beat … but I was also a bit relieved. It was good to start really confronting all of my insane behaviour, peeling back the layers of lies to find the truth, and in doing that, to find myself.
It would be a journey of days, months, years, but I found myself by doing that inventory, and in bringing the inventory in my life journey. Yes, it was very hard to do, but I could not have found the contentment in myself – and about who I am – without working through Step 4.