When I first came to treatment and recovery I was certain I was through. I had beaten myself up so badly that I thought I was absolutely resolved to give up the drinking and drugging life and do whatever I had to do to get well. I came into treatment, was handed my Big Book, and got to work with a sponsor. Yet, there were ideas which persisted in my mind– ideas that I thought at the time were perfectly reasonable. I thought I was intelligent enough and “grown up” enough to know what was best and what was right.
First, I had a profound resentment which I thought was completely justified. This was a personal issue in which I was certain I was the one who had been done wrong, and there was no reason for me to let it go and “accept” things as they were. I was going to keep fighting until I got an acceptable resolution to this battle. As I tried to work the steps with my sponsor he would explain all the relevant passages of the Big Book on acceptance (that famous page 417). We went over the entire fourth step and discussed at length the importance of finding my role in the resentment. But still I persisted in maintaining my position. I was fully justified in holding onto this resentment and I would not let it go.
Second, I almost instantly became caught up in self-pity. I became obsessed with how horrible my situation was; clearly no one had ever sunk as low as I had, and no one could possibly be as lonely. Over a short time, because I refused to see what I was doing and listen to my sponsor, these feeling magnified into bitterness. The Big Book tells us again and again the danger of self-pity and the fact that this is nothing more than an extension of pure self-centered thinking. My ego was still in the forefront of everything I was doing no matter how much I tried to convince myself that I was on the road to recovery.
The point of all of this is that no matter how much I believed I was ready to cease fighting anyone or anything, no matter my professed desire to surrender, I simply did not follow through with the simple instructions I was given. Little by little, these feeling wore away at me and within six months I picked up again with the predictable disastrous results. Thankfully, I made it back to recovery in less than three months and have been on track ever since. But those little reservations I held, not so little reservations in hindsight, became the sores that withered my resolve. It is not resolve alone that gets us sober. It is that willingness to do whatever the 12 steps demand of us. It is a spiritual program and those reservations, resentments, and selfish and self-centered ideas we cling to become poison to the spirit and will destroy our recover. We begin our recovery and we regain our dignity only after we truly cease fighting anyone or anything.