The power of making a list
Dec 11, 2012
Let me start by saying, I am not an expert or an authority on Twelve Step work. This is all just my experience.
The first, second and third step are like the ABC’s of Twelve Step work, the foundation on which all of my subsequent step-work is built. They are the three steps I do daily: I can’t do it. He can. I must give it all over to him. These three seemingly small steps add up and help me face the biggest problems in my life, most of which are revealed in the fourth step — the step where I make a fearless and searching moral inventory about myself.
This is the step that I wanted to do least.
The problem with making a fearless and searching moral inventory about myself is that I am not fearless, and when I first came into a Twelve Step program, I didn’t know which morals I sought. Turns out neither of those things matter because the fourth step is not something to be done alone.
After the first three steps, I knew there were at least two people in my corner: My sponsor and my God.
So, I started as my sponsor suggested, and prayed for God’s guidance. I wrote down a long list of resentments. I got caught up on the bigger, more obvious ones, and often felt like dedicating pages to “telling the truth,” which, in time, was revealed to be lame justifications I used to continue drinking and using.
When I’d get caught up on the big stuff, I’d switch to the fun ones, like women in expensive yoga attire (i.e. Lululemon, the secret yoga store of my dreams), people on bikes when I’m driving or people in cars when I’m on a bike and soon the flow would happen again and the list would continue. I would call my sponsor and say, “OK, I’m done. Let’s read this thing.” She’d laugh and say, “Why don’t you pray on it for a week, and then we can come back to it if nothing else comes up.”
Sure as sea monkeys, something else would come up and the list continued. By the time I finished, I had a seven-page list of people, places, things and institutions that I resented; Bullet points detailing those resentments just like is recommended in our literature. Turns out that’s all there was to this step.
It’s just a list. A simple list.