Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Practice Four (& Five)--Part I

"Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves (paying particular attention to our fears, our wounds, our sources of comfort and vexation, and our failures to love.)"

"Admitting to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the contents of our inventory."
Prepare to start getting somewhere. That's what I feel as I start thinking and writing for step/practice four---the inventory of . . . me. Since I'm putting some of the inventory on this blog, and giving the rest to others, I'm also into practice five. Before anyone gets up in arms about only posting "some" of my inventory here, let me just say that I've debated with myself a lot about how much to put on the blog. For now, I've decided to at least apply the limitation that restricts making amends, namely, to refrain when going forward would injure others. Let me add here too that my "sponsor" in this process made a recommendation to include assets as well as liabilities in the inventory. I think I see the wisdom in that, but I'm not going to start with the assets, and I don't know when I'll get there.

As I look at it now, it's easier to start with my "sources"--the things that I use to manage/comfort myself--and to work backwards from them to the motives, and, then I think my failures to love will be obvious. So, some of my "solutions" to life:
  1. Procrastination. This is a big way for me to avoid life in general or specific tasks that scare me somehow. Just put them off. Of course, the more I put them off, the more I want to avoid them. This is one of the things I use to comfort myself instead of the comfort provided by God. I've definitely given away a lot of time and money by running from good things to do. I also get angry by the suggestion that I do something that I'm avoiding, as if it's Kim's (my wife's) fault that X or Y is something I need to do.
  2. Food. Yep. I definitely use food to avoid stuff or just make life about me for a spell.
  3. TV, movies, the internet, books, etc. Distraction is great. I've heard that it's the primary tactic of Satan in America. Well, I guess I'm just another lemming.
I know there are more, but I just realized something: Part of my plan for staying numb to whatever I'm running from is diversification. If I became a heavy user of just one of the above, both the addiction and the fact that I have built my world around myself would be harder to hide (from myself and others). But if I diversify, I can appear to be "normal", maybe even godly with just occasional 'outbursts' of selfishness. It makes denial much easier. Wow. I'm not kidding, that plan was really down in there somewhere. So, for me I imagine that any socially acceptable distraction from life will do. Alcohol doesn't fit because of my personal history, and there are others that I have a genuine hatred for, but you get the picture of what I go to and why.

I'm still working on finding out (with God) what exactly makes me want to use the above things, and here's what I have so far, in no particular order:
  1. Fear. Fear of screwing up someone's stuff. I work as a lawyer so the idea of making a mistake that effects someone else in a big way (much more than it effects me) is a daily concern. I remember on the first day of law school, I think the dean said to all us first-years, "Welcome--you'll never have a good night's sleep again." There's a sense in which that's true for me, just from feelings of responsibility.
  2. Selfishness. Whether it's work, or God, or my daughter or my wife, the selfish part of me only wants to do things it considers "fun" or enjoyable (like sleep). Sometimes, maybe all the time, I'm just all about me feeling good, and if you get in the way of that, you're in the way.
  3. Fear (again). Fear of God, in a bad way. In a way of avoiding the light that sees every part of me--parts I don't want to acknowledge. Fear of shame, of failure. Fear of reality because I don't seem to do well there. Fear of actual life, of participating in the real thing, because I don't trust myself with the consequences.
I imagine there are more, but the above seem to hit, as I look at them, the positive side (desire) and the negative side (fear) of selfishness. All the above have serving me in common.

Well, as I suspected when I started, my failures to love are fairly obvious. I'll get into particular people later, along with some of my wounds. God bless you in your journey of life.