One post on Step 3?  Yuuup!  That’s how it works. We make a decision and then we IMMEDIATELY get into action.)

So anyway, thanks to the University of Texas and the dear lord’s will for me…I spent the last several days penning out some pretty juicy inventory, and since we’re on Step 4, it’s a perfect time for me to share it with you.

Inventory (4th or 10th step) is meant to keep my house in order. That means that I don’t just shove down all the crappy things I’m feeling right now about getting rejected from yet another graduate program.  If it’s burning me up inside, I have to take it to the paper. The pen is a mighty tool.

I always start inventory with a fear list, and I always do my fear lists the same way. At the top of a blank page I write, Dear God please help me be honest. Then I start writing, I fear (fill in the blank.) And I write I fear again and again until nothing else comes out. Here’s what it looks like:

  • I fear I will never find a professional home for my writing voice, and therefore, I will never be a successful ($$$) writer.
  • I fear that I will be an esthetician, doing facials on people who really don’t deserve to be touched by me, for the rest of my freaking life. (Note: I said, help me be completely honest, so don’t hold my grandiosity against me.)
  • I fear the future.
  • I fear that I will never find real financial security.
  • I fear that I’m not really as great of a writer as I think I am.
  • I fear that I am not enough.
  • I fear that whatever comes next will be scary.
  • I fear God’s will for me.
  • I fear being 40!
  • I fear dying.
  • I fear that JM will get a graduate degree before I do, and that he’ll be more successful than I am!!!
  • I fear failing, and that makes me fear trying.
  • I fear that God is busy and isn’t really paying attention to what’s happening in my world, and therefore, has maybe permanently screwed up my chances to be more educated.

Ok, that’s good for now. I start with a fear list because  I am a human being who is driven, motivated, manipulated and eaten alive by fear. I need to get that on paper before I go one step further. When I’ve emptied that out, I start the inventory. I start it the same way I start a fear list. Dear God, please help me be honest. I’m resentful at (fill in the blank until nothing else comes out.)

Resentment actually comes from a Latin root meaning re-sentiment. So anything (negative) that I feel over and over again is a resentment and is worth looking it.

  • I’m resentful @ UT for not accepting me to their graduate program.
  • I’m resentful that I’m almost 40 and I don’t feel like I’ve found a professional home.
  • I’m resentful that I still, 11 years into my sobriety, feel like my worth is attached to what I do, what I earn, how I look, ect.
  • I’m resentful at myself for waiting until 6 weeks before the deadline to consider applying for a fully funded graduate program.
  • I’m resentful that figuring out my life feels like so much work sometimes.

This will be more than enough to demonstrate the power of the process. Here we go:

1. I’m resentful @ UT

Affects my self-esteem (I’m not good enough? Did they even bother to read my paper? Have they seen my recovery blog?) Affects my security (now that I did not get into grad school, I will definitely probably be homeless at some point, probably when I’m 70 and have no teeth left and can’t even get a job at HEB.)  Affects my ambition (Uh, hello, do you know one famous [non-fiction] writer who doesn’t have an advanced degree?)


This is a very important question. This is how I look at my part in things. I don’t always have to have done something to have a part. Sometimes my part is how I react to everything else when something happens in my life.

Well, God would have to remove my grandiosity for one thing. Also, my fear of financial insecurity and of the future. God would have to remove me thinking I know what’s best for me. God would have to remove my stubborn resistance to his (her, it’s) plan for my life. God would have to remove my tendency to turn everything into a big drama (homeless @ 70…a little dramatic please.) And most important, God would have to remove my fear of trusting God and myself.

Defects: grandiosity, fear, stubbornness, resistance, control, UNSS (unwilling to see that UT is just a spiritually sick organization, just like me, and that if there’s no hope for them, there’s none for me…bahahaaha! Just kidding, UNSS doesn’t apply to this resentment, but there are lots of resentments it does apply to!)

2. I’m resentful that I’m almost 40…

Affects: self-esteem, security, ambition


Well… God would have to remove the grueling sense of urgency I feel about everything I do. God would have to remove the picture I have in my head of what 40 is supposed to look like. God would have to remove me thinking I know what god’s plan is for me, and how to best achieve it. God would have to remove my lack of gratitude for all the amazing things I have accomplished in life. God would have to remove the part of me that is exacting, demanding, harsh, derogatory and downright know why, because those same attitudes I apply to myself get applied to everyone I love and care about, and I never want the people I love to feel judged in the way I am judging myself.

Defects: Grandiosity, unrealistic expectations, people pleasing (I would be so much more respected if I had a Ph.D) control, lack of gratitude, lack of humility, lack of compassion (for myself and others.)

3. I’m resentful that I still attach my value to what I do, what I have…

Affects: Personal relationships, sexual relationships, ambitions, security, self-esteem (that’s what we call a 5-bagger!)


Oh dear lord, now we’re getting to the meat of it. God would have to remove that terrible hole in me that thinks it can only be filled, I can only be enough, if I have enough, do enough, accomplish enough. It’s that fucking race inside of me that keeps me like a rat in a cage, constantly striving for others approval and recognition, and I’m here to tell you (and myself) it ruins every good thing in your life.  God would have to remove my inability to just be a human among humans, my self-centeredness, my rigidity, my fear god and of life and of you and of me. God would have to remove my people-pleasing, my manipulation, my martyrdom. God would have to remove that little tiny seed way down deep inside that keeps telling me, you are not enough, you are not enough, fuck you, you are not enough.

Defects: lack of humility (being the right size), lack of knowing my worth, self-centered fear, people-pleasing, manipulation, martyrdom, ect.

See how it works? I won’t bore you with the rest of my inventory, but I will say that nothing is more important that this process. Because I’m alcoholic, I have to get down to causes and conditions. These were things I drank and used over. I don’t have that solution as an option anymore, so I need a new way to stay comfortable in my skin, and this is it.

When I’m done with this process, I have a list of defects, but what I really have is a better idea of who I am, and what I’m working with. And that’s really important, because an alcoholic, I’m packing a little something extra. This stuff I wrote down here is what lives inside my head, if not consciously, at a sub-conscious level where thrums steadily through my life, and it can inspire me to make some very bad choices. I can easily get lost in it.

I have a long and torrid history with both my mother and my now dead father.  One of the things my mother must have said to me a million times in my life was, “you just don’t care.” In sobriety, as I wrote and wrote inventory, I was able to finally see that she was wrong. I am someone who cares very deeply (to a fault sometimes) about myself, others, and life in general.  When you know who you are, you don’t have to own whatever else it is someone thinks of you. It’s a powerful gift.

Be kind to yourself today. If you’re full of junk inside, write an inventory.