My Inner Civil War

My Inner Civil War

When I was new to the Fellowship, I heard something that made me laugh: “I’m a self-loathing

narcissist.” I thought it was funny, but I also wanted to cry at how true this statement was for me. I’m a sexaholic and have truly earned my seat in these SA rooms. I have a fatal, incurable, progressive disease—a real soul sickness. By an incomprehensible miracle, the Program helped me find my way to a Higher Power who restored me to sanity. Granted, all I have is a daily reprieve contingent on my spiritual condition, but that much is an absolute miracle to me. The other part of my story is that I am also a raging volcano. My self-loathing has led me to near-fatal road rage and some actual suicide attempts.

Four years ago, I had an incident that baffled me. I struggle with an intense sense of inferiority in regard to my brothers-in-law. One of my wife’s brothers came to visit and brought her an
e-reader device. She cherished the e-reader I had given her, but now her brother’s gesture made my gift obsolete. Fearing a violent reaction on my part, my wife was nervous about accepting the gift. When we were alone, I said I thought the gift was very nice. She said, “Aren’t you upset?” I replied in a sincere and calm voice, “Why would I be upset? That would be so immature.”

Both of us were stunned in disbelief! Was I somehow possessed?! My old behavior would have been to smash the gift with a hammer if she had accepted it. Yet somehow, to both of our amazement, I seemed to have been transformed. I thought of the tenth-step promises: “We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically . . . without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.” (AA, 84-85)

I get that it was a miracle, but when did this happen? Careful consideration and reflection led
me back to Step 4. When I last worked this step, a light shone on my soul, and my Higher Power broke past the wall of my ego and reached me. I believe that for the first time, He enabled me to face an inescapable reality trapped deep in my being. At the core of my person, in the center of my soul, there has been a civil war raging.

I’ve heard similar descriptions of this internal conflict, for example, the allegory of the two dogs fighting inside a person where the winner is the one who is fed. In my case, this fight is on a much larger scale and has a sinister slant.

There are two armies at war fighting for dominion over me: Shame and Pride. The Shame army fires a non-stop barrage of destructive missiles called criticism, perfectionism, isolation, and fear. In the heat of battles waged inside of me, the Pride army retaliates with a heavy arsenal of justification, rationalization, anger, and resentment. Standing In the middle of the battlefield of this intense conflict, I’m a defenseless little boy. The abuse that bombards my inner child leads to unpredictable emotional episodes ranging from deep depression to uncontrollable rage and everything in between. The pain is so unbearable that it drives me to my favorite anesthetic: lust.

When I work fearless and thorough inventories, my Higher Power reveals to me the nature of this internal civil war. When I take the action of looking at my shame and pride in light of my
resentments, I begin to see how my inner conflict is driving my lust and rage.

For example, I recently broke the side view mirror of my car while backing into a parking spot.
Unfortunately, I had done this at least four times before. When my wife pointed this out to me, I got mad and made a rude, sarcastic remark. Not too much later, I was surprised that my wife was upset because I didn’t even remember my earlier remark. Once she reminded me, I saw an opportunity to conduct an inventory on the situation.

Who was I resentful toward? My wife. What happened? She looked down on me and overreacted when I was rude to her. It was then that I realized I had been judgmental of her on far too many occasions. If I spot it, I must got it!

What did this affect in me? My inner civil war was activated! Immediately, the Pride army in me
thundered, “Who does she think she is? I’m a better driver than her! Heck, I taught her how to
drive!!!” At the same time, the Shame army rallied with Fear and retaliated with, “She’s right! You’re a terrible driver; likely one of the worst! Think about it, how many people break so many

What part did I play in this scenario? Well, for starters, I broke the mirror! Is it so
unreasonable for her to be disappointed and frustrated with the unexpected repair expense? (take it from me, with the new technology packed into them, side view mirrors aren’t cheap!)

What’s the manifestation of my self-obsession? Fear! I’m afraid she’ll tell me not to attend the SA Convention and save the money to fix the mirror. I won’t get my way; my will won’t be done.
Do I owe an amends? Absolutely! I promptly let her know that I was wrong to be sarcastic and to assume she was being judgmental. She just kindly responded, “let’s mourn together.”

Who was I resentful toward? My wife

What happened? She overreacted; judged me

How was I affected? My self-esteem; ambitions

What was my part? I broke the mirror!

Which of my defects did this activate? (The cardinal 4 are Selfishness, Dishonesty, Resentment, and Fear)

Fear, selfishness

Do I owe an amends? Yes

Whenever I go through this process, my Higher Power enables me to set aside the thing blocking me from Him, others, and myself. Through a true miracle, the little boy inside me is rescued from the battlefield of self-obsession and placed safely in a position of neutrality. I can see and face my mistake with humility and self-love without drifting “into worry, remorse or morbid reflection” (AA, 86).

Although I can’t (and don’t need to) understand how the miracle works, my Higher Power can restore me to sanity. Twenty-four seconds at a time, I begin to see how this is a program of action, and how working the Steps is different than just participating in the fellowship.

God, on this day, grant me the serenity to accept that I am a perfectly-flawed, lovable human being who is no better or worse than others. Allow me to bestow grace on others and on myself and take the actions of love rather than feed my self-obsession.

Amjed B., Texas, USA

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