"What is my basic problem...?"
As I continued to pray the 3rd Step prayer, work with my sponsor and attend meetings those things I read in the Big Book, but did not "get" or understand at the beginning, began to come alive and make more sense. Daily as I work the AA program, the text helps me to not only see the truth about myself (self knowledge, counseling, therapy, etc., alone never brought any lasting change for me), but it also taught me the actions I needed to do on a daily basis which would bring about the necessary changes in my life. I think that whether someone is an alcoholic or not, the principles set forth in the Big Book will have a incredible impact on anyone who practiced it in all their affairs. In the writing below I have to give full credit to the Big Book text, because although I am not quoting word for word, and I am adding little personal additions, what follows are selections of the Big Book text which address Step Three.
I never realized it but I have always lived my life by self-propulsion. Now because of working the 12 Steps of AA I am now convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. In the past, I have lived under the delusion that I can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if only I manage it well. But I have learned (and continue to learn) that when I live on that basis I am almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though at time my motives are good. In fact sometimes I may be quite virtuous, kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing, while other times I can mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest, but what I am truly wanting is my way. What I have always wanted in life is for people, places and events be and act how I want them to act or be. Deep down I was convinced that if only people would do as I wished, life would be great. I'm educated, experienced and somewhat smart so I knew, or believed I knew, how life should be and how everyone else should act. But what usually happened? Things, circumstances or situations don't come off very well, people did not act how or do what I thought they should and I begin to think that life didn't treat me right, in fact it down right sucked most of the time. While there were times that I may have admitted I was somewhat at fault, I was sure that other people are more to blame (why didn't they admit I was right?), so I often was self righteous, angry, indignant and full of self pity.
What was/is my basic trouble? I am a self-seeker, even when I am being kind. Even in my best moments, I am a producer of confusion rather than harmony. It's not them...it's me. I am concerned with myself, my resentments and my self pity. Self-centeredness is the root of my troubles. I have been driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity. As such, I step on the toes of other and they retaliate. Yes, sometimes I have been hurt, seemingly without provocation, but I invariably find that at some time in the past I have made decisions based on self which later placed me in a position to be hurt. So my troubles are basically of my own making. They arise out of myself and as an alcoholic I am an extreme example of self-will run riot.
Now that I have learned this about myself, discovered the truth about how I operate in the world and what my basic problem is, what the hell do I do about it? Above everything, I must be rid of my selfishness; I must of it will kill me. But if I could fix myself I would have long ago, but I have clearly seen that my life is unmanageable, I am powerless. I had moral and philosophical conviction galore but I could never live up to them, even when I wanted to or even when I tried my hardest. Neither could I reduce my self-centeredness much by wishing it away or trying on my own power. The Big Book states that God makes it possible, since there is no way of entirely getting rid of self without his aid I had to have God's help.
(Side note, when I was at this point in my program I still hated God. I had sworn that I would never have a thing to do with God, the church, religion or anything that came close to it. I had not yet done a Fourth & Fifth Step, which would/did address my resentments, fear and anger. However, as addressed in my prior posting on Step Three, my sponsor had me begin to pray the 3rd Step prayer long before I could understand or believe. In fact because I hadn't done my 4th Step I didn't totally buy the idea that my basic problem was myself. However, I did have willingness and I did take the action suggested by my sponsor. Despite myself, something or someone began to change my heart and mind.)
As the Big Book points out, the first thing I had to do was stop playing God. It didn't work. Next I had to decide that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be my Director. He is the Principal; I am his agent. He is the father and I am his kid. This concept is the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which I passed to freedom. When I sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things began to happen in my life. I had an new Employer, who was all powerful. He provided what I needed...if I kept close to him I could clearly see that was true. When I stay established on a spiritual footing I become less and less interested in myself, my little plans and designs (well it is progress not perfection to be sure). More and more I become interested in seeing what I can contribute to life and service to others. I have gained a reason to live, get up every morning, go to work, live in a family and stay in a marriage. As I feel a new power flow in, as I enjoyed peace of mind, as I discovered that I could face life successfully, as I became conscious of God's presence, I began to lose my fear of today, tomorrow and the hereafter.
Next I had to launch out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which was a personal housecleaning, which I had never attempted ever let alone in an honest or meaningful way. What I had learned so far could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face and to be rid of the things in myself which were blocking me. My liquor was but a symptom. I had to get down to the causes and conditions and I had to take action towards a spiritual way of life.