If all our lives we had more or less fooled ourselves, how could we now be so sure that we weren't still self-deceived? How could we be certain that we had made a true catalog of our defects and had really admitted to them, even to ourselves? Because we were still bothered by fear, self-pity, and hurt feelings, it was probable we couldn't appraise ourselves fairly at all. (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions [AA], page 59)
Later the text says if we've been honest with another person, it confirms we have been honest with ourselves and God. I'm an honest person. I'm an open person, really revealing myself now that I've found OA. I've done 5th step as deeply as I can, and I still don't know how I've fooled myself, just feel like I have. At the suggestion of a trusted mentor I took on to work through the AA 12 and 12. She predicted I'd find my answer in Steps Six and Seven. I'm getting close to those steps, but no closer to really understanding where my current hang-ups, or character defects, rest.
I found this draft, written four days ago, as well as a second, begun two days ago. So I'll work with both and see where they take me.
In the meantime, I have read into Step Six, and I found some of those character defects I was looking for, finding some things in response to statements there that really amazed me. The statement that set me on the course was this, speaking of each of us having an abundance of natural desires:
When they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures than are possible or due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth. That is the measure of our character defects, or, if you wish, of our sins. (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions [AA], page 65)
Okay, when the natural desires driving us are the sex drive, or the desire for things, I understand the logic. But the needs that come to mind when I start listing the natural desires that are most important to me -- that I yearn for more of -- they don't compute very well as character defects. The list I came up with includes to be loved, the directive that a man and woman become one, to be appreciated, to be recognized, to be included. How can those possibly be character defects? They seem, though, to play into what my sponsor told me that rings so very true. That is, in looking at the Fourth Step inventory, to look at these questions to find the fourth column:
1. WHERE WAS I SELFISH? What did I want from this person, institution or principle?
Selfish is not a bad word; this is a terminology. Selfish in this way is not a bad word. It doesn't mean we were a bad person. It just means we weren't getting what we needed or wanted.
2. WHERE WAS I SELF-SEEKING? What behavior did I do to get what I wanted?
3. WHERE WAS I DISHONEST?
a. DIRECT LIE: Not telling the truth. Bold face lie.
b. LIE OF OMISSION: What you needed to say to this person so they knew how you honestly felt about them and the situation but didn't.c. LIE I TOLD MYSELF: Lie you told yourself. (A.) Not good enough. (B.) I am stupid. (C.) Not smart enough. (D.) I am unworthy, etc.
4. WHERE WAS I FEARFUL:
A) Fear of losing what you have.B) Fear of not getting what you want.C) Other peoples' opinion.D) Fear of not getting financial support.
It's a puzzlement. And I'm a word person, but I think I've got a better understanding of it than I can express. Looking at the seven deadly sins that the AA 12 and 12 suggests as a starting place for character defects, and looking at the needs I feel unmet, I think I come up with the combination of these "sins" that are my "needs" and thus the lack of them my "character defects":
- envy (I want what I believe other people have in their relationships with other people, both same sex and opposite.)
- anger (I punish other people for my lack of happiness.)
- pride (anybody who can't see in herself more defects than this suffers from pride.)
- sloth (that one's a given. Look at my office, my house, my car, my "TODO" lists, my unfinished projects.)
- gluttony (I am in OA for a reason!! But it's not limited to food. I want it ALL, though the material doesn't appeal particularly, probably because I've always had "enough" material things for me.)
Two more sentences catch my eye. On page 66, "No matter how far we have progressed, desires will always be found which oppose the grace of God." And on page 68, "So the difference between 'the boys and the men' is the difference between striving for a self-determined objective and for the perfect objective which is of God."
I'm ready, God. You understand this stuff, know where my character defects are and how to put them into words. And how to remove them. I am completely willing for you to remove my character defects, whatever they are.