Inventorying Morality

It’s been awhile since I’ve addressed the steps of the Unbroken Path. According to the outline I put together, I’ve been sort of stuck on the Searching Fearless Moral Inventory of the 12 Step program. I’ve been hesitant to address it fully for a couple of reasons, but I figure I’d better get moving on because I’ve got a lot of things to do and really don’t want to get bogged down on it.

I’ve talked to some people who have overcome addictions, and a few of them really scorn the 12 Step program citing that acknowledging one’s self as an addict sets up a pattern whereby we are continually shamed due to the habit’s we have gained as a result of our defense against the insane world we live in. Ok, so I’m paraphrasing that a bit because it sort of represents what I believe. Every time I have labeled myself as an addict, I have felt it to be largely disempowering, and I spent an inordinate amount of energy disparaging myself for my weaknesses, which usually makes me succumb to a fuller onslaught of whatever I feel that I am addicted to.

Although I have struggled with tobacco addiction mostly, and at times have chided myself for being too much of a pothead, I think that my biggest addiction, like most people’s, is my ego. I realize that tobacco, especially industrialized tobacco, has its share of chemically addictive properties, I find that it is often my attachment to the character I’ve played in the past, and his penchant for reckless behavior and selfishness, that most hinders my living up to the character I would most like to be. In other words, I don’t push my weaknesses off on substances, but recognize that I, more often than I’d like to admit, use those substances to keep myself from engaging in more beneficial activities.

For all of the years I have labeled myself as an addict, I beat myself up pretty bad for it, so much so that I have often found myself feeling as if I don’t deserve anything better. But it’s not just the substance abuse that brings this attachment to being less than I am capable of. It is also the remembrance of all of the times I have fallen short, the times I did not do my best, the times I did not live up to my full potential, and the times I have operated out of the lower stages of consciousness. It is the reminder of those times and the fallible human being that has muddled his way through them, that have historically kept me from rising to the heights that I imagine. Basically, I’m addicted to my self, or at least the memory set that I call self.

When I took off to write The Rucksack Letters, and found myself searching for life’s greater meaning, I heard many mention that on an expedition such as mine there is a tendency to succumb to a “Christ complex.” Combined with my evangelical upbringing and the dodgy dogmas and doctrines that compelled me to weed through the religion of my youth, it’s easy for me to admit that I’ve felt a compulsion toward this complex. I’ve even been told on a number of occasions that I resemble Jesus, not only for my long hair and occasional facial hair, but also for my heart.

Being Christlike is scary. Not only because of the way that it ended for the man who inspired the movement, but for the fear of what I might leave behind should I give myself over fully to this higher consciousness. Like most people, I think I freak myself out over both the possibility of missing out on fulfilling some of the fantasies I’ve conjured in my head over the years, and the fear of failing in my endeavor for greatness.

I think sometimes I act like Bill Murray’s character in What About Bob? During his initial interview with Richard Dreyfuss’ psychiatrist, Bob fakes Turrette’s Syndrome and a heart attack under the supposition that if he fakes them, he won’t get them. Sometimes I feel as though I intentionally fall short so that I can own my own failure instead of having it drag me down against my will. Sometimes it feels as though tending to my own addictions is the only control that I have.

As I’ve considered this step over the last couple of months, I’ve felt that, beyond the tempestuous substances that steal the moments that could otherwise be used for peace and productivity, it is this addiction to fear that has done the most detriment, both to myself and to my relationships. Because I have spent so much energy settling for less instead of striving for better, I often find myself caught in this pattern of being less than I am able and giving less than I am capable.

Perhaps it has taken me so long to write about this step because I have not wanted to face the shame for the many people I have let down. For my family, my friends, and whatever celestial beings are hovering around hoping that I would find my way though I continue to wander around in a hazy oblivion of self sabotage, I am deeply sorry for my shortcomings. Recognizing my patterns, I am making a much more concerted effort to realize the vicious cycle when it begins at the point of thought, and stop it with the understanding that we are all deserving of more than we have allowed ourselves in the past.

For those that I’ve hurt in the past, I know that forgiveness is there for me, and perhaps it is that knowledge that has helped to perpetuate my acting upon behaviors that would inspire such forgiveness. However, for forgiveness to truly have power, I realize that I must forgive myself, and with that forgiveness comes the possibility to move beyond the role of wretched sinner I have played upon so many occasions. Although I am most indubitably an addict, I know that it is within me to be an overcomer, and to live a life of much less drama than I have known in times past. Thus, we are all reborn.

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