Step 4

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.

Step 4

Postby Feeya » Mon Jul 25, 2016 7:32 am

Hi, my name is Feeya, I am an alcoholic.

I would like your opinion on how much time I should spend on step 4.
I see step 4 as a process, not as something I think about for an hour, write down and move on.
Certain things are just now starting to come back, certain things I am just now starting to make sense of and realising my part in it and I am not sure how long I should wait until I move on to step five.
I do realise that I can always go back and edit my inventory, but still I want to take enough time and give myself enough room to figure out some of the things that took place.
I'd appreciate your ESH and thanks in advance!
One day at a time.
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Re: Step 4

Postby Barbara D. » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:14 am

I couldn't wait to do Step 4. I wrote the great American typewritten 65-page autobiography and then followed the outline in the Big Book to do another 10 pages of inventory. I worked on it on and off for 6 months, getting feedback 1 on 1 and in Step studies. No, I don't think that was a "normal" 4th Step! It was a case of Barbara in charge, judging, justifying who I had become. All that wrong motivation...but still, I was thorough, checked through calendars and other research to verify the sequence of events. I learned a lot in spite of myself! And then my sponsors made me put the whole thing down and start from the beginning verbally. I thought they were just going to read the "novel." Their objective feedback was invaluable! I wanted sponsors to be my pals, but I'm glad they were not confused by a personal relationship with me.

On the other hand, I had a sponsee who worried and worried over her 4th Step and finally showed me 3 or 4 hand-written paragraphs on one page. I asked her to include several topics she left out. She wrote another 3 or 4 pages and then we had quite the 5th Step including a thunderstorm and lightning that made us jump and gasp!

So, I don't think there is any one-size-fits-all format for a 4th Step. I know there are a lot of inventory guides available now, but I'm glad I just followed that Big Book outline. It was hard not to project into the 5th Step, to write the inventory FOR my sponsors. I think telling my story in chronological order did reveal patterns and show how one thing led to another as my disease progressed

As far as wanting to edit my inventory, I never did that. It was the truth to the best of my ability at the time. As I made progress in the Steps and began to see life-on-life's terms differently, I wrote topic inventories. I've still got that original inventory and reread it every 5 or 10 years...whew, I'm glad I've moved on into a different world and have my toolbox and a spiritual framework for living now!

Good luck on your 4th Step! Barbara D, alcoholic.
Last edited by Barbara D. on Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Step 4

Postby Brock » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:26 am

This question comes up from time to time, steps 4 & 5 seem so intimidating, but we always want to write everything down. There are some sponsors like the AA speaker Chris R, who actually make the appointment for #5 as soon as you start four, he says two weeks, if you aren’t ready after that he will give one extra, still not ready ? Then he tells you to find another sponsor, harsh perhaps but it stops us dragging it out.

Also there is debate about just how much we write and how far back in life we go, do I really have a resentment against some kid I didn't get along with at school, and do I have to write a biography, not really. If you look at some forms which are patterned after the examples in the book, I like those you find by Google at 'Barefoot's World step 4.' You will see links for prompt sheets and the forms, just like the book each sheet does not leave a lot of room to write, because it's basically bullet points you want to remind you when you sit to speak about it.

It is my belief, that as we progress in the steps, and particularly as we become more spiritual, some things we may not see now start to bother us, these are easily dealt with as they come up, and don't really require redoing the step, although some here will say they redo this step from time to time, it's not what's suggested in the book. Maybe you should just do what Chris suggests, make an appointment for #5 and stick to it.

Well done on getting this far in a relatively short time, great example to every other new person reading this.
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Re: Step 4

Postby ezdzit247 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 1:57 pm

Hi Feeya

I agree with Barbara's take on the 4th Step. There really is no "wrong" way to do this Step and there's no set timetable on when it should be started or done or how long to spend on writing it.

When I finally got sober after almost two years of struggling to stay sober and bouncing in and out of AA, I used my home group buddies as my sponsor instead of asking one person to sponsor me and that worked real well for me. I listened to other long time sober members share how they worked the Steps in every meeting I attended and what they generally shared is that any written inventory that was over a page in length was bragging. I kept my 4th Step to one page in length and followed the BB's direction when I wrote it out, beginning at about 3 months sober. I was still having trouble remembering stuff from the past so I did the best I could with the brain I had to work with at the time.... :lol: My predominant feelings when I was newly sober were guilt about things I had done and anger at myself for doing them. I really didn't feel resentful towards other people, places, or things in my life. I was so grateful to be alive and sober, to have been given a second chance at this thing called life, that I really didn't have a lot of resentments towards others to inventory. Self-hate was my biggest problem and self-forgiveness was the solution. I asked a women from my home group to hear my 5th when I was about 5 months sober and worked through the rest of the Steps for the first time at about 6 months sober. I usually do another 4th Step every year around my AA birthday as a 50,000 mile annual check up and that's what has worked for me. Hope that helps.
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Re: Step 4

Postby PuppyEars » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:21 pm

I believe if you are searching and fearless while doing this step, it will not take long.
This step is also in the How It Works section of the book. People usually crap out at this point because of the dreaded 'work' word. We all want fast, free and easy - it's okay.
Another important piece to me is on page 67 where it gives us a short prayer for the people who harm us when we are 100% innocent.

"When a person offended we said to ourselves "This is a sick man, how can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done"

Extreeeeeemely difficult for me lol. But I won't give up on it.
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Re: Step 4

Postby avaneesh912 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 7:11 pm

You look at the current un-manageability and see what is causing the discomfort. For some stuff that happened 15/20 years ago may not carry that much weight, so, its ok to not look at it at this moment. The point is, to figure out the pattern. For example a person having tough time in relationships may look at what is causing the dispute. Non-acceptance of another as is could be the issue. Person who can't keep a job-see the key criterion. Perhaps he/she is totally unfit for the job. Or it could be other issues like being late, skip work without notice and so on and so forth.

But the book says its just a beginning. But we have to do it. Once we do it, we get connected with the higher power. Like the business coming out of bankruptcy after re-structuring. If they did it right, the business prospers, money flows in. Of course if they are still trying to hide something, they are going to fail again.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Step 4

Postby Feeya » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:00 pm

Hey everyone, thanks for all the replies. I actually don't mind step 4, I heard a lot of people not wanting to do it... but I know it will get better after that so...
I will still take my time with it, not because I want to write down 7 pages and brag ;) but because I want to really explore my behavior and my patterns in certain circumstances. Recovery to me, is not a race. I know that with working the steps it'll get easier, they are the key, but I still don't feel like I need to rush. I have faith and trust that once I am done with this inventory I will know... and that is when I will move on!
As far as looking at stuff from 20 years ago, I can't really do that anyway... I am sure when I was two there wasn't much to look at anyway.
I did realise that certain patterns, e.g. manipulative behavior in relationships with friends and family go way back into young childhood though...
Well... It is quiet a journey...
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Re: Step 4

Postby avaneesh912 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:41 am

I did realise that certain patterns, e.g. manipulative behavior in relationships with friends and family go way back into young childhood though...

There was a program called inner awakening that I attended. The process was to identify the base root patterns we were asked to go back to those early periods where our mind is vulnerable. Some of the strong emotional shocks we encountered as a child (it could be small, if you look at it now) but the spiritual master pointed out that we stop growing, we use the same cognition we had then for things that happen now. Most people will just pooh pooh it. There was one guy from Malaysia who had frequent seizures and gotten into multiple accidents. Even though this guy couldn't think of anything, the people help him identify the incident. He was then able to relieve himself because then he was indeed powerless over that situation. He couldn't have helped because of his size and age. He couldn't look at the incident with a different perspective. For some we can look at the most recent incidents and see how we act/react and allow someone look at it and thats where sponsorship comes in. They could help us identify the self-fishness self-centeredness around each incident and help us overcome the ego.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Step 4

Postby Feeya » Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:05 am

That sounds really interesting!
It sounds like PTSD therapy a little bit, something I will start doing soon, to help with some incidents that happened when I was younger.
I do realise that some of my perfectionism and the 'wanting full control' stems from losing control in early childhood. But that will be something I deal with besides AA as it requires professional help I guess...
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Re: Step 4

Postby ezdzit247 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:32 am

I didn't mind or balk at Step 4 either. I was raised in the Roman Catholic religion and never had a problem with weekly confession. Always felt "cleansed" and "lighter" afterwards. Even after I left the Church as a teenager and became an atheist as an adult, I still considered the ritual of "confession" to be a very valuable tool for mental/emotional health. Much later, when I started therapy, my therapist became my "father confessor" at $200 per hour! Since I wanted my money's worth, damn straight I was honest, "fearless" and "thorough" right from the start of our first session.... :lol: When I finally got sober and began working AA's 12 Steps, I had the same pragmatic attitude: I wanted my money's worth.... :wink:
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Re: Step 4

Postby serendipity » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:42 am

I'm currently on Step 4. I was told to write down my resentment portion last week. I finished writing it, but now I feel like I'm carrying around some illicit piece of me. I can't wait to share it with my sponsor and destroy all traces of it. I don't want to over complicate the process, but I do want to be thorough. I am eager to move on from this step as I feel certain feelings bubble up in this first portion that make my heart cry a bit. But I trust the process, and I trust my sponsor, so I am going to be fearless in the searching. I'm eager to see what I am to learn from my resentments. I meet with her tomorrow evening.
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Re: Step 4

Postby Feeya » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:39 am

serendipity wrote:I'm currently on Step 4. I was told to write down my resentment portion last week. I finished writing it, but now I feel like I'm carrying around some illicit piece of me. I can't wait to share it with my sponsor and destroy all traces of it. I don't want to over complicate the process, but I do want to be thorough. I am eager to move on from this step as I feel certain feelings bubble up in this first portion that make my heart cry a bit. But I trust the process, and I trust my sponsor, so I am going to be fearless in the searching. I'm eager to see what I am to learn from my resentments. I meet with her tomorrow evening.

Good luck to you!
I am doing my 5th on Friday, super nervous but also glad to get it done with...
One day at a time.
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Re: Step 4

Postby Spirit Flower » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:55 pm

Feeya wrote:
serendipity wrote:I'm currently on Step 4. I was told to write down my resentment portion last week. I finished writing it, but now I feel like I'm carrying around some illicit piece of me. I can't wait to share it with my sponsor and destroy all traces of it. I don't want to over complicate the process, but I do want to be thorough. I am eager to move on from this step as I feel certain feelings bubble up in this first portion that make my heart cry a bit. But I trust the process, and I trust my sponsor, so I am going to be fearless in the searching. I'm eager to see what I am to learn from my resentments. I meet with her tomorrow evening.

Good luck to you!
I am doing my 5th on Friday, super nervous but also glad to get it done with...

Yay Feeya! Your 5th is real special.
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Re: Step 4

Postby Feeya » Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:00 am

Spirit Flower wrote:
Feeya wrote:
serendipity wrote:I'm currently on Step 4. I was told to write down my resentment portion last week. I finished writing it, but now I feel like I'm carrying around some illicit piece of me. I can't wait to share it with my sponsor and destroy all traces of it. I don't want to over complicate the process, but I do want to be thorough. I am eager to move on from this step as I feel certain feelings bubble up in this first portion that make my heart cry a bit. But I trust the process, and I trust my sponsor, so I am going to be fearless in the searching. I'm eager to see what I am to learn from my resentments. I meet with her tomorrow evening.

Good luck to you!
I am doing my 5th on Friday, super nervous but also glad to get it done with...

Yay Feeya! Your 5th is real special.

Yeah I am really looking forward to getting that done. Feels like it is time!
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Re: Step 4

Postby serendipity » Thu Aug 04, 2016 1:39 pm

Feeya wrote:
serendipity wrote:I'm currently on Step 4. I was told to write down my resentment portion last week. I finished writing it, but now I feel like I'm carrying around some illicit piece of me. I can't wait to share it with my sponsor and destroy all traces of it. I don't want to over complicate the process, but I do want to be thorough. I am eager to move on from this step as I feel certain feelings bubble up in this first portion that make my heart cry a bit. But I trust the process, and I trust my sponsor, so I am going to be fearless in the searching. I'm eager to see what I am to learn from my resentments. I meet with her tomorrow evening.

Good luck to you!
I am doing my 5th on Friday, super nervous but also glad to get it done with...


That's exciting :) Wishing all the best to you on this journey. I'm anxious to move on to Step 5, as well.
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