I’d like to report I’ve eliminated most of my character defects, but an honest inventory shows I’ve still have just about every one of them I walked through the door with. They have simply rearranged themselves through the years. I guess I still need them to grow because God hasn’t seen fit to remove them yet. The difference today is I know they are there. Recovery for me is not about smashing my ego into smithereens. It is about having the willingness to learn the truth about myself -- that I’m an imperfect human being and I’ll always be imperfect.

I was working with another member when we were decorating our Alano Club in Shanghai. Dirk is good with his hands and besides, he was the only one of us who had his own tools. We were running out of time before the opening of the club. My need to control came out in a series of petty instructions. Finally I barked at him to do it my way. “You’re an asshole! Dirk said. Without hesitation I said, “I know.” It may not sound like much, but I look to this moment as a major turning point in my recovery. I didn’t get defensive and argue or stomp away in resentment. I simply admitted it was true--that I was acting like an ass. I recover when I have the willingness to look into the mirror when it is handed to me. People hold up mirrors for me every day. Some days I have the willingness to look at myself. Some days I only see the jerk holding the mirror.

The counselor in the treatment center told me that being an alcoholic wasn’t my fault just like it wouldn’t be my fault if I had cancer. Like my alcoholism, My character “defenses” are not my fault either. They developed as my way of trying to be comfortable in my own skin. I’ve learned to be gentle with myself over my character defects. I don’t use the whip of self-hate as much these days. Beating myself up for not being perfect is just one more character defect.

There was a book written in the 1970’s called, “I’m OK, You’re OK. ”I heard a speaker say he would rewrite this book and change the title to “I’m an Ass and You’re an Ass, so what’s the problem?” I’ve got the “you’re an ass” part down pat. It’s the “I’m an ass” part I have trouble with. I’m no saint.