We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. – Step Four
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD” – Lamentations 3:40
I have had this step circled almost since I entered this life of recovery. This one terrified me the most. Not the making amends in Step Nine. Not the sharing my story in Step Five (ok, that one does frighten me). This one. A searching, fearless moral inventory. I have to look at all the parts I have never wanted to see. In detail. Spend quality time with the worst of me. I mean, what could be more fun?
This is foundational work for the rest of my recovery. How do I know what needs to be removed from my life if I don’t examine my character? So I attacked this, like I attack other projects. Time to get organized, so, I started a spreadsheet. I mean of course I did. Who wouldn’t?
Tab one is identify my flaws and examples of how they have materialized in my life. Ok, I really haven’t wanted to face these. However, I am very aware of these now. They stand out. They embarrass me as I start to list them and remember each instance in vivid detail. Wonderful descriptors like arrogant, critical, lying, manipulative. This list just validates what my counselor told my accountability partners…”he will lie to you.” I did that very well. That and manipulate. Those are the two that feel deep, structural, at the heart of this life of deception I have led for so long. They “resonate.” The examples flow too easily. I cringe as each comes to mind. No, not cringe. I am appalled and disgusted. I understand what my sponsor said about not staying with each of these for too long. I feel shame. I identify with these as the crux of my character.
Next I get to list assets and how they materialized in my life. Before recovery, this list was easy. I could just tick them off one after another. Now, this feels laborious. I no longer have false bravado that any of these are truly real. They seem manufactured. A false front. I have to dig deep to truly identify the assets and remind myself that these are truly manifestations of God’s character in my life, not my own.
Third is resentments, what caused them, how they affect my life and what my part in them actually is. If that makes sense. Here is an example. I resent my brother for not looking out for me as a kid. He chose to not be an involved older brother with me but somehow found time to include his girlfriend’s brother who was my same age. I have deep resentment for that action. It affects my self-worth, my sense of security, my ability to be intimate with him and others. Before now, that would have been the depth of my review. Now, I have to take the next step. What are my own mistakes? I didn’t support my brother initially when his wife said she wanted a divorce. I didn’t step up and tell him I was there for him. I let my resentment affect how I felt about him and my actions toward him. The first person to support me after discovery? My brother.
Step Four. More to come. This is hard.