This week’s HTYH is the continuation of a medical doctor’s story: It’s not my responsibility to save anybody’s marriage but it is my privilege, as a sponsor, to share with others the solution I found when I was gutted by that same problem. I’m real clear about what’s written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous because it changed my life. I now have a way to deal with my self-centeredness, dishonesty, resentment and fear. In some treatment centers they’re trying to change thinking into feeling. Some of them have a list of a hundred different feelings. When we crawled through the doors of AA we learned about our character defects of which according to our book there are only four—self-centeredness, dishonesty, resentment and fear—fear of losing something we have or fear that we won’t get what we want. Step four exposes the defects, the fifth step makes me deal with them every day and the 11th step puts them to bed at night. Every thing that’s wrong with us can be boiled down to four basic character defects, self-centeredness, dishonesty, resentment and fear. I no longer have to wallow around in sick feelings wondering what’s wrong with me. I know what’s wrong with me, it’s in the book and our solution is in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn’t have that knowledge the first ten years in AA because I was only working a three–step program. I never took a drink, or a drug, but there’s no doubt that I would’ve if I had not worked the rest of the 12 steps. After a period of sobriety, fear of my defects would’ve waned and I would’ve returned to alcohol and drugs searching for a false sense of ease and comfort. If you’ve been married more than five years you know what I’m talking about when I say waned. The love may grow in a marriage but sex wanes, I went from wanting to do a triple flip from the foot of the bed and landing on top my wife, to laying alone on the couch with the cat, watching late–night television–sex wanes.
The reason the Big Book changed my life was because I believed in its suggestions and the design for living, a sponsor, the fellowship and helping others–to clean up some of my character defects. I made amends to my wife and the nurse I had an affair with and although it tore the heck out of the trust in those relationships, I became less aggressive and much gentler. My relationship with my wife became stronger and more mature. Those of you who heard me speak 33 years ago and are listening today should be able to see the result of allowing God to run my life.
Before my relationship with women could improve, I had to go to a therapist. By then I had been sober for a long time and I knew what the solution was but I still could not identify the problem. After some intense therapy the problem was traced back to my relationship with my mother. She always made me feel special, and after I was married I gave my wife lots of things and expected her to treat me like the king baby–like my mother always did. Whenever I did things for women, I expected something in return and if I didn’t get it–I became more self-seeking, resentful and fearful. I was self-seeking and self-centered in all of my personal relationships–I knew nothing about unconditional giving.
Until we admit that we are powerless over a problem and that our lives have become unmanageable–it cannot be fixed. All of my problems are first step problems and all of my solutions can be found by working the other 12 steps, especially the second step: “Came to believe that a power greater than us could restore us to sanity.” Each morning I must ask myself this question: “Who’s running my life?” Take a good look at your day and notice how many things come up that you try to control? Planning is critical but trying to control the outcome is insanity. Pray about it, write it on paper, inventory it with your sponsor, go to a meeting, help another suffering alcoholic, but above all, leave the outcome to God.