I resented my father all my life for his cold and critical treatment of me throughout my life. His name was right at the top of my resentment list during my first fourth step. My ego had me believing my father had a choice — that he didn’t have to treat me the way he did, that he should have treated me with more love. As I discussed my resentment of my father with my sponsor, he pointed out this passage in our book:
“This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too…”
As soon as I fully realized my father was spiritually sick just like me — that he was driven by the same demons that drove me — the resentment began to dissolve. Today, without anger distorting my memory, I can to focus on the things about him which were positive and loving.
Today I see that my father didn’t have a choice. Like me, he carried a lot of unprocessed guilt, shame and fear that created inner turmoil. Like me this inner turmoil trapped him in the madness of his own life. Like me this madness erupted from time to time and caused him to hurt others, especially those closest to him.
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous offers me a way out of my personal madness into an attitude of forgiveness. The good doctor in his opinion called this process an entire psychic change. Attending meetings and hearing truth, doing inventories, reading our literature and other spiritual books, praying and meditating and being of service are all ways I demonstrate my willingness to be changed at depth. In a way, everyday I stay sober is an act of forgiveness of both myself and others.