October 2: Step 10

*** Step 10 ***

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting in the middle of page 84. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

As a Catholic, the Tenth Step can feel routine to me. Apologizing for sleights was second nature, to the point where I wondered if my amends had any meaning. But then I realized that I wasn’t going deep enough. It was easy for me to apologize and make amends for the easy stuff (i.e., sorry I didn’t respond to your email more quickly, sorry that I missed your call, sorry that dinner was late, sorry, sorry, sorry). But it took some work to make amends for the harder stuff (e.g., I am so sorry that I was not there when you needed me; I am so sorry that I treated you like an object and not my partner; I am so sorry that my choice had a negative impact on you).

I knew that I was really working my Tenth Step when the people to whom I was trying to make amends either needed some time to process my amends or still have not offered them. Some of the things I did in my drinking days (and even more recently) have really hurt people and as a result, people have drawn boundaries. In the past, those boundaries would have really hurt me and I would have done anything for someone to forgive me. But now I realize that the purpose of the Tenth Step is for me to have an awareness for how my actions impact others and if they have a negative impact, I need to be accountable. For me, the gift of the Tenth Step is that accountability, not whether someone forgives me. I cannot make anyone forgive me -(that’s up to them and their higher power) — but I can strive to be the best person I can be.

I went to confession yesterday and at the end, the priest told me to keep coming back, that the purpose of going to confession on a regular basis was not to achieve perfection but rather to keep on trying to be a better person. There’s a lot of similarities between what he said and the Tenth Step — as recovering alcoholics, we don’t strive for perfection — we try to be better people, one day at a time.

If you are looking for a tool to help you on your Tenth Step journey, check out the “My Spiritual Toolkit” app. I am grateful to my sponsor for introducing this app to me, as it includes nightly and spot check inventories. And yes, these tools have helped me go deep. 🙂