Once again I find myself on a train…this time heading to NYC for the weekend with my daughter. We are going to spend the weekend with her godparents who have an apartment in the city. Shopping, show and super restaurants. Can’t wait.

So while on the train, do I do my fourth step work that my sponsor has assigned me or do I write a blog piece? I guess you can tell which one is winning. Can you say procrastination?   One of the things my sponsor told me to do when I do my fourth step (“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”) is to list some character defects that could be making it hard for me to do my fourth step. To put it into perspective, I’ve been stuck on my fourth step for four years now.

As I’ve said before, the fourth step is known to be one of the hardest steps, if not the hardest, among the twelve. Many people have a very hard time looking at their own character defects and digging into the past, often uncovering numerous demons. I’ve known a few people who never made it past step four because it was just too painful to face. But some of the worksheets that offer guidance on how to go about doing the fourth step remind us that we are taking an inventory. They compare it to a business inventory, where everything is recorded, not just the bad or unnecessary items but also the good and useful. So when an alcoholic looks at their “moral inventory,” we must consider not only our defects but also our assets. For many, this can be hard as well if we have a hard time finding the good qualities in ourselves due to low self-esteem, among other things.

I’m not going to list all my character defects, or my assets, here. But I will say that it’s obvious that procrastination is a big defect of mine. And perhaps when it comes to doing this step, fear. If I knew what exactly I was afraid of, I might be able to deal with it better. But it will take some digging. Some digging that I keep procrastinating on doing. I know that there are many things that led me to drink, and many things that I regret having done when I did drink.   But a big part of this program is forgiveness and moving forward. As they say in the program, “We do not dwell on the past nor wish to close the door on it.” We revisit the past and learn from it what we can, and then move on.

In the past four years of sobriety (I’m coming up on 1,500 days next week, but who’s counting?) I’ve learned so much.   I’ve done a great deal of soul-searching and introspection. There’s a lot that I saw that I didn’t like, but also some that I did. We should all take the time to see our good qualities. My sponsor calls me “AG” for Atta Girl. I’m a firm believer in patting oneself on the back when it’s called for.   In my case, those days and nights I make it through a rough craving without picking up a drink. Or when I have a major breakthrough of understanding or come to a great revelation about myself or my drinking. On some days, I literally give myelf a pat on the back just for getting out of bed.

I’ve had a few reasons lately to be both displeased with myself for some of my actions, but also proud of myself for trying to correct them. Overall, I’m going to give myself and atta girl pat on the back. Sometimes I’m a little slow, but as long as I learn from my stupidity and mistakes it’s not so bad. I’ve also got a few amazing people in my corner who I can always count on for a kick in the head when it is called for instead of a pat on the back. Believe me, often that’s what I need. Everyone should be so lucky to have friends who care enough about them to kick them in the head sometimes.

Not sure if being nostalgic falls into character defect or asset column, but I’m coming up to that part of the train ride when we pass by my old alma mater in Philly. I can see the stadium and high rise buildings and even some of my old haunts as the train passes by.   I was just there a few weeks ago for my 25th college reunion (see my piece called “Once I Was 20 Years Old.”)   My daughter says she would love to go there one day. Raising smart kids—definitely falls in the asset column.   J

For more nostalgia this weekend, I’m going to see one of my oldest and dearest friends tonight.   She and I were actually in incubators next to each other in the hospital when we were born just a few days apart. Really looking forward to seeing her. Keeping in touch with old friends—asset.

And I can’t make a trip to NYC without being hit with the memory of it being the city where I had my last hurrah when it comes to drinking.   Memorial Day weekend, four years ago, my hands shook until I got a drink in me at lunch. Not this time. Sober and happy to be able to remember every minute I get to spend with my daughter and dear friends. Progress—asset.

Now on to my step four work…

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” – Augustine of Hippo