Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why Is Step Four So Frightening?

Why do so many of us, when facing our first "searching and fearless moral inventory," find the mere idea unnerving? Why is the concept of looking clearly at ourselves, with no justifying, no rationalising, such a daunting prospect?

I heard at a meeting recently, "I'm afraid I'll find out I'm not a nice person."

Isn't that true for most of us? We're terrified that if we dig around within, we will find only rot - extensive decay, and things unrecognisable as human, with a stench powerful enough to peel wallpaper. (Reminds me of a bachelor friend, who, when asked what a questionable container in his fridge held, replied, "Don't throw that out, that's my science project! I'm growing blue fur.")

Aren't we terrified that our core beliefs in our own intrinsic lack of worth, will only be strengthened and proven, if we do a Step 4? Don't we carry a quiet terror that all the horrid verbal abuse heaped upon us over the years may be true, and that this will become evident to "ourselves, to God and to another human being" when we move further along in the process, to Step 5?

We may have been unkind, we may even have said or done that for which we now feel ashamed, but we aren't evil, and we won't find out that we aren't nice people. On the contrary, considering the fear and trembling with which many of us approached our first moral inventory, we come out the other side breathing a huge sigh of alleviation, laughing a bit in giddy relief.

We discover that we've been bound and triggered by our pasts; we've made choices we can now understand, worked against us. We've been impatient, we've been angry, we've been childish, we've been a myriad of character defects, but we've still been only human, with all the attendant human frailties.

Al-Anon is teaching us to love ourselves, in our entirety: not just the small acceptable pieces we are willing to display in the front parlour, where nobody sits, but also the ratty old pieces worn to a fade by years of overuse, on the back porch, where the dog sleeps.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. I have found out that I may not be "perfect" after all. And that's okay because I'll never be perfect. I'm only human with all the character defects. I simply ask God to remove the defects as I work at living a better life.