Step 10 – We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
I was in the early stages of my recovery process and trying to parent two teenagers. One of them had found his voice, and he was exerting himself more in our interactions when I wanted him to do something for me. Let me admit right now that I was operating out of a very child-like place. Before I entered recovery, I would get so triggered in these unexpected responses that I would hang up the phone on my family members.
One day, my son had borrowed our cell phone, and he hung up on me while we were talking. I was so angry. I wanted to “teach him a lesson.” I drove over to his friend’s house, and told him to give me the cell phone. He gave it to me and asked, “Why?” I told him that he had hung up on me and this was the consequence for that response.
His comment? ”Well, you do it too!”
“No I don’t!” I retorted back to him.
I took the cell phone and proceeded to drive home, got half way home, and realized that he was right. I did have a history of hanging up on my family members when I became angry at their responses.
I felt remorse and shame as I realized he was right. So, I was at a fork in the road. I could take the road of allowing him to experience the consequences of his behavior – this is how I was raised, being taught lessons in punitive ways– or I could take a different road.
The road I took was to turn the car around and drive back to my son’s friend’s house.
“You are right,” I told him. “I do have a history of hanging up on you. I am sorry. It is very disrespectful, not adult behavior, and it will never happen again.”
I then proceeded to give the phone back to my son, a stunned look on his face, while his friend stood there watching.
Could taking the phone away have taught my son something? Absolutely. But the bigger lesson that needed to be conveyed was that his mother made mistakes, and was willing to own them and learn from them. Also, I needed to learn a softer and more respectful way of having dialogue with my son instead of from an authoritarian perspective.
Our relationship began to change that day.
It was the culmination of the process of my doing a daily inventory of examining my own behavior and character flaws (a practice I continue today), of owning my own behavior with my son, and of trying to figure out how to dialogue with him instead of making demands. I am continuing to try to restore relationship with my son, with the Lord’s help, and our relationship is so much better than it used to be.
The process of self-examination is critical for change in recovery. I thank God for the change in my heart and for improving my self-awareness. I also give thanks for the 10th step, and the tool of a daily and spiritual inventory for the change in me, and for the change in my relationships.
“So, if you think that you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! I Corinthians 10:12
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.