Breaking myself down on paper was fun. There’s nothing a depressive, hate-fueled egomaniac loves more than adding up his failings.

 Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I used a legal pad for authenticity, as well as a ruler and felt-tipped marker for the grid. Now we were getting somewhere. No more pie in the sky love and acknowledgement; no more hugs and beliefs. Here was a concrete report of my own making: homework of the soul.

Early on in my drinking career, I flipped the switch in my mind that was concerned about what other people thought. For years I had lived in a bubble of shame and embarrassment, long before I ever took my first sip of alcohol. Other people’s opinions mattered a lot, and at the time, those opinions weren’t good. Then I went to college. And when my freshman roommate declared he hated my guts, I remember the overwhelming freedom that came with telling him, “get in line.”

Of course, I had drunk half his bottle of vodka and replaced it with water. This from a kid who, six months earlier, had never even drank a single beer.

I was proud of my shortcomings: there are certain people on this planet that, if I’m living my life correctly, should absolutely despise me. If everyone liked you, you were an ass-kissing clown with no dignity. And I actively pursued those differences, calling them out and putting others into their appropriate boxes. Done with you, and done with you. Next?

Now, with the columns and rows filled with out-sized behaviors and misguided thoughts, my warehouse was full of fears and resentments harkening back to my pre-drinking days. I was still attempting to prove to those that teased and bullied me how I was completely over it. Look – I can be mean and selfish, too! See, I’m not a pushover anymore; now I do the pushing, and I’ve got eight pages of goldenrod to prove it.

When working Step Four: understand that what’s on those pages aren’t accomplishments.

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