Friday, 23 April 2010

Step Eight

I've always had a problem identifying with a chunk of the alcoholic image. I have no problem with the "one is too many and a hundred are too few" bit - you should see me with a Diam Milka bar right now: it's open and it's going to get finished in this sitting. I have a problem with the rampant ego bit, where the alcoholic needs to reduce the size of their ego and seek humility. I simply never reached the point where I got physically tired of booze, I'm not even sure I had a rock-bottom. Those involve a loss of dignity and control, and a while of sordid and revolting behaviour that I never quite reached. I'm not a primary alcoholic, I wound up with a drinking problem because a lot of ACoA's do, on account of inheriting the gene.

Step Eight was for me an exercise in acquiring some self-respect. I discovered, not without a lot of psychological turmoil so intense it left me unable to see for a moment or two, that I was not a bad person, had ruined no-one's life, though at times I had been a bit of a jerk and may have pissed some people off now and again. Let's get this clear: Step Eight-sized sins are not about upsetting people, but about paying back the money you stole and apologising for the black eyes you gave them. I may have spoiled a couple of evenings, but I didn't ruin anyone's life.

If you want to make your way in this world, you are going to step on a few toes and if you want your snout in the trough, someone else won't have their's in it. I didn't always have to make way for other people or feel guilty if I didn't. (I was a very fucked-up not so young man.) There is nothing wrong with ambition and material well-being and even a little luxury: what is wrong is trampling on, using and discarding, lying to and exploiting, other people to get those things.

For many alkies Step Eight is a big shock, as they discover just who they have to be ready to make amends to. Step Nine isn't about saying "sorry", it's about making amends, and apologies are not always enough of an amend. A parent in recovery can never apologise enough to their spouse or children, but they can make amends - by staying sober and being the parent they should have been in the past. A noisy former flatmate can apologise but isn't really in a position to make amends. My Step Eight was not about amends or apologies, it was about learning to stand up and start behaving like a mensch. I'm still working on that.

No comments:

Post a Comment