Day 199: A Sharp Pencil


That’s pretty much the best word I can find to sum up the day.

As I dove into 4th step wholeheartedly, I dove into the depths of darkness. Even with my morning AA meeting under my belt and a productive and lively yoga workshop, I did not have enough positivity stored up to carry me through the trenches of my old, and plentiful, resentments.

I’ve been dragging my feet too long. I’ve known that for some time. And, I knew that dragging my feet was in order to avoid exactly this…this feeling. It’s like crawling on hands and knees through thick mud, stopping to rest, and then looking ahead only to see more and more muck in front of you.

Page after page of names, resentments, effects, fears, and then, of course, my part in it all. And, as I write where I’ve been wrong, being as thorough as I possibly can, it’s all revealed. All my little, demonic mind games. My inadequacies. My petty strategies to make things right, for me. Me, me, me. My selfish and inconsiderate line of thinking.

And, it occurred to me, how does any one make it through this step without a fucking drink? God, I want to sit down in the middle of my living room floor with a fifth of Jim Beam Black Label, just like the old days, and take swig after swig until all these columns blur into fuzzy gray lines and disappear into the periphery of my drunken darkness. No wonder I drank the way I did. How does anyone look at themselves this candidly without harsh criticism? In theory, seeing and identifying all your blunders, faults, and atrocities seems useful. A learning experience. And, yes, that’s the point. But, that point is like the tip of a freshly sharpened pencil being driven into my hand.

What’s more painful than looking at all these themes, defects, and wrong doings is wondering how much of that person who carried out all this wreckage and pain is still living inside me? How much of that sinister and self centered whore died when I put down the bottle and how much of her is still a part of me, ingrained and thriving just below the surface? What will bring her back? Is it just a glass full of booze, or is there some other catalyst that will send her bubbling up to the surface to re-institute her reign of terror?

Just write. That’s what I’ve been told to do. Try not to think too much about the things you’ve done. The person you were. There are steps designed to alleviate that pain too, but, this step is just the inventory itself. Mere information. A map of the landscape.

But, it’s like a train wreck from which you just can’t look away. It’s an out of body experience where you not only relive your pain, rejection, hurt, jealousy, and vengeance, but, you see just how sinister and systematic it all was when it happened. It’s pure torture.

So, as I struggle through this, I remind myself as I begin to slow down or attempt to distract myself, that this process of pain and suffering will last only as long as I allow it to. If I’m going to move on to the next step, I have to complete this one. So, rather than get up and brew yet another pot of tea to comfort myself, I stay seated and move on to the next name on the list.

It’s about perseverance. Determination. Strength. And, perhaps even courage. Some people will go through their whole lives and never look back and see, acknowledge, or accept where they have been wrong. It is noble to do this. And, I know that when I am done, something in me will be free. And perhaps I will never be free from the curse of what I did or didn’t do, but, I will be free of the weight that all these little, collected secrets and hurts have added to my already heavy load.

Rough. But still, I pull the sharpened pencil up from out of my hand, and write the next name, then the next. And, then, I turn the page and start again.


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