A while back I heard a fellow alcoholic go into great detail regarding step nine. His comments were deep, meaningful, possibly grandiose, and well beyond the scope of anything I ever thought about regarding this program.
Step 10: continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Not that his ideas were crazy or counter intuitive to the program, or in any way impugned the literature or anything the fellowship had to say. It was just that he seem to know it a hell of a lot better than I did. It was as though he was a Dungeon Master, Highest Belt, the guy who studied overseas at the foot of the Enlightened One.
It was as though he was trying to remember all the machinations himself, and in proper order, for fear of forgetting a detail. It was oddly inspiring and humbling, to see someone put in that amount of study.
My initial reaction? The same one I always go with: disdain. Who does this guy think he is, spouting off like the prophet Isaiah? Parsing words and sentences like he’s the Rosetta Stone to sobriety. Nothing worse than an arrogant recovering alcoholic.
But then it hit me: Step 10. What the hell business is it of mine if this guy needs to over think everything in order to stay sober? Maybe his way is to fixate. Maybe he’s been white-knuckling it all morning and now is trying hard to whistle past the graveyard. Who am I to judge that his way is worse than mine? And do I even have a way? Is that why I’m pissed?
Before I went deeper into this guy’s inventory, I needed to stop, sit back, and start listening again. I might not like the tone, the attitude, or the delivery, but I can’t deny the message: that we’re all alcoholics, and that we’ve admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Start with that.