Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Most of us who recovered with AA's program did so with the help of a "sponsor". But what is sponsorship? How do I get one? Who can be a sponsor? What makes a good sponsor?

Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Tasha37 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:05 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this site, and thought I would ask your opinion on a few things, mainly regarding my step 4 and my sponsor.
I joined AA in January and have been sober since, for which I'm truly grateful. I found my sponsor in March and started working the steps with her then, in quite an impersonal way i.e I was told to read sections of the big book then meet with her the following week for a 15 minute chat to answer some questions on each step. It seems she is taking me through the steps in a way that is new to her- her sponsor is from Al anon, and she uses a workbook which isn't the norm.

The way I've been shown to do step 4 is extremely thorough, not the way in which I see others at AA meetings doing it, and im told it is likely to take over a year, purely on step 4 alone.
I've been working at it consistently every day since May, and I'm not even a quarter of the way through.

I'd just like to know whether or not other members think that this is excessive. I'm just worried that whilst everything is going well in my life now, this window of sobriety which I've had to date may not last another year if I'm just stuck on step 4 for that length of time.

Also, my sponsor hasn't ever gone through the big book with me, and she doesn't expect me to call her weekly, or at all.

I'd be grateful to get some feedback. Thank you in advance x
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Brock » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:21 am

Hello Tasha and welcome to e-AA.

I think one of the best things about recovery sites like this, is that questions can be asked in complete confidence, and we can get feedback from members with varied experience. Some say, and I agree to a point, that on certain things too many answers is not a good thing, because we can choose the one we want to hear sort of thing, find the easiest way out perhaps. But questions about sponsors are quite common, and I for one am very happy you asked this one.

There is no qualification a sponsor needs other than having done the steps, and it seems to me the main plan of most is “this is the way my sponsor showed me, this is the way I will show you,” the old one size fit's all approach many of us here have complained about in the past. Even though your sponsor was sponsored by someone in Al-anon, I have a feeling she was told just like she is telling you, it's got to be thorough may take a year, boy o boy what a load of nonsense. It seems they are many approaches to the steps these days, some lean towards the old days of AA like the back to basic book teaches, in one weekend steps done, we have the most sensible (to me) idea of going through at a brisk pace and probably completing in a few weeks, then we have this drag it out idea that your sponsor has. The problem is not everyone has either the patience to drag it out like this, and may quit, or most importantly may not last long enough, we need the solution as fast as possible, we have no real defense against that first drink without it, and steps 4 & 5 are where our book says most of us felt the urge to drink going away, they are very important steps.

It is quite a normal thing to change sponsors, and AA literature on sponsorship says a good sponsor will be quite understanding and gracious if someone wants to change, there is no doubt in my mind that you should, and if she gets upset then that shows she doesn’t have the AA qualities she should have anyway.

We more often get members saying that their sponsor is rushing them on this step, and saying that they are delaying too much because they are 'scared' of #5, (which is not as hard as it looks), so your sponsor is doing the opposite, she is holding you back from the wonderful relief and way of life so many of us have found. I expect others will offer their experience and encouragement, please ask if you have any further questions, and perhaps keep in touch with us here about your progress.
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby avaneesh912 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:55 am

The way I've been shown to do step 4 is extremely thorough, not the way in which I see others at AA meetings doing it, and im told it is likely to take over a year, purely on step 4 alone.
I've been working at it consistently every day since May, and I'm not even a quarter of the way through


If you have time read the story "He sold himself short" especially pages 261 on 4th edition. Dr. Bob helps the person in 4 hours in one afternoon. They go over the character defects in one sitting. The story goes on to say the member travels to chicago the next day to start AA there.
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 expected to take up to a year

Postby tomsteve » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:39 am

glad youre here,tasha and good to read ya doing the 4th step.
there is no such thing as a 100% completely thorough or perfect 4th step.

dr bob mentioned quite a bit about something very important:
keeping it simple-" Let's not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual A.A. work. Our Twelve Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words “love” and “service.” We understand what love is, and we understand what service is. So let's bear those two things in mind."

doctor bob simplified it better than anyone could
trust God
clean house
help others.

dr bobs words to bill
“Remember Bill, let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple”

ive been sober a while. did i get EVERYTHING from 37 years of living on my 4th step listS??
nope. and impossible.and thats where the blessing of being able to revisit the steps comes in.

the simpler i make it, the easier it is.
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Brock » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:44 pm

The 4th step is a topic which comes up here fairly regularly, I will put links to the last two times it did, useful additional information can often be found in threads from the past like these.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=23328

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=22832
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby RyanjSp » Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:44 am

Avaneesh mentioned what I was thinking. Dr. Bob and 'Sober em up on a Friday, sponsoring next monday.' (paraphrasing)
Not that it will or should work out that way for everyone but sooner or later sheesh get her done.
Also if this thing really gets you then much of your step work is between you and Higher Power after a year in and and out mostly in a daze I finally set to work in the steps I had the hounds of hell on my heels and I wasn't looking for a sponsor to help me work the steps I needed a sponsor I could trust for my fifth step and nothing else I already had a plan and knew in my gut what I had to do.
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby positrac » Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:59 am

If step 4 is to take a year I believe it'll burn you out and lose interest. It is not perfection as much as a foundation on how to learn to clean and purge out wrongs and to make amends on a regular basis. These are always subject to change and yet we know that is is time to make right our wrongs from our step experience.

Just saying that building higher expectations than necessary can yield failure. It is not necessary IMHO and my experience.
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby JohnDaniels » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:25 pm

Tasha37,

Welcome to The e-AA Group.

You mentioned:

The way I've been shown to do step 4 is extremely thorough, not the way in which I see others at AA meetings doing it, and im told it is likely to take over a year, purely on step 4 alone.
I've been working at it consistently every day since May, and I'm not even a quarter of the way through.
I'd just like to know whether or not other members think that this is excessive. I'm just worried that whilst everything is going well in my life now, this window of sobriety which I've had to date may not last another year if I'm just stuck on step 4 for that length of time.
Also, my sponsor hasn't ever gone through the big book with me, and she doesn't expect me to call her weekly, or at all.
I'd be grateful to get some feedback. Thank you in advance x


I believe we ought to do a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves as our steps describe because unless we really do this, I don't believe there's not going to be real freedom, fulfillment and serenity in our lives.

"Fearless" doesn't mean we have no fear. In my own inventory I faced times looking back in my life where the most troubled time in my life was when my actions were based on the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. But I didn't have to let fear hold me back from being thorough. We can face those character defects head on and work through them with rigorous honesty or brutal honesty. And let's remember the inventory is OURS.

I believe a searching and fearless moral inventory is a major step in our development and in our faith. I believe when we get to the following step a good sponsor willing to calmly and honestly point out areas in our inventory that we cannot see, no matter how honest we believe we are is key. There may very well come a point in doing our personal inventory that we may think our resentments are justified and it was the other persons fault all along, after all anyone who hates kids and dogs can't be all bad. Oh I'm not serious. Sorry, it's just my humor. But actually we can be biased or go the opposite direction and beat ourselves up. A good sponsor can point out that we really were not as bad as we make ourselves out to be and we actually have had some wonderful assets all our life. I think a year to go through this would be too long for an inventory for the reasons "positrac" mentioned. But that's just my opinion.
Hey, thanks again for your post and for being here.

Peace
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Tasha37 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:23 pm

Thank you all for your time in responding to my post. You've really helped to cement what I was thinking, and have echoed advice that I've had from my local AA friends. I've thought about this a lot over the past few weeks, and this week I have decided to change sponsors and have let my sponsor know. My old sponsor was very good about it (thankfully! I was pretty nervous in telling her!) and I'm pretty confident this is the way forward. My new sponsor is supportive and encouraging, and I'm really eager to get working towards the solution as soon as is reasonably possible...within months rather than a year hopefully!
I love AA, this program and what it has done for me to date. It really is a miracle at work.
Thankyou again guys x
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Cristy99 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:04 pm

Hi Tasha!!!

I'm glad you have found a comfortable solution.

The first time I worked the steps I was not thorough enough. I then found a sponsor who is very thorough and I have completely transformed!!!!

A step takes as long as a step takes. That's my final answer.

I learned from my own experience these things:
1. Don't rush it.
2. Don't go so slow that I drift to a stop.
3. If something doesn't FEEL right after the step, if there is a struggle, a discomfort, a bee in my bonnet...I probably missed something.

After I finished the 12 steps by tip-toeing through the tulips I was still a somewhat dry drunk. Now that I am diving all the way in, I can hardly believe my growth!!!! I just do what feels right and observe the results.

Thanks!!
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~ Chinese proverb
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Noels » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:44 pm

Good morning Tasha and welcome to e-aa :D . I did the steps this year for a second time since I did the steps on my own the first time when I just got sober and the person who assisted me covered one step a dsy with me wherever it was possuble to do so. Some steps like 6 and 7, 10, 11 and 12 I wanted to do all at once but I must say his way was in after thought the better way for me personally.
I've read on the forum that every sponsor have their own way of doing the steps but yes, mostly seem to do as their sponsors do. You are the second or third person however who mention having an Al-Anon sponsor which I find very strange since our Big Book states that only another alcoholic can help an alcoholic
. Al-Anon is usually for families, spouses and children who have been affected by the behaviour of the alcoholic so I don't know where this new trend comes from? I would suggest firstly that you find another ALCOHOLIC who you can trust and relate to to guide you through the steps since only an alcoholic can understand another alcoholic.

Secondly you mention that you are not even 'a third ' through step 4 so perhaps the slower pace is what works for you? Personally I took about 2 weeks on step 4 and moved directly thereafter into step 5 if I remember correctly. I found that there were things - people and events who I didn't recall when doing step 4 but added them to my list as I remembered and dealt with all of that in step 8 and my amends in step 9.

After step 9 all is still not los if I've 'forgotten ' anyone in steps 4, 8 and 9 since we then start living the program via steps 10, 11 and 12 on a daily basis thereby still giving us the opportunity to make amends to anyone who may have slipped our mind in the previous steps.

That is my experience of the steps. I hope my share can help you and wish you the best of luck.

Work it cause it's definitely worth it! :D
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Patsy© » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:23 am

Hi Tasha and welcome :)

The Big Book uses the following terms, for a vital reason: "Precise, Specific, Clear-Cut Directions"

When I got to AA, its was because nothing I was doing worked and there I was in a room full of alcoholics who had found and were practicing the solution.

When I was new I asked my sponsor when I should start the steps and she answered me in this way...."So Patsy, how long do you want to stay sick for?"

Well, again, I didn't know the solution and she did, so I took her suggestions and they worked! She had me go through the 12 steps in about a month and it took a month because I was too mochas to understand what I was reading in the Big Book....but again, she knew. So I believe that what you said in your first post, is correct..... there is no way that taking one year to complete step 4 for any untreated alcoholic is good or healthy.

Page 63 & 64 in the Big Book....

"Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.
Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory. This was Step Four."


Further down on Page 64, its says the following. In my own experience, taking one year to complete Step 4, is the same as carrying around "Resentments" for one year and still having the obsession of the mind.....and those two things will take us to our first drink quicker than anything else.

"Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were "burned up."


On page 65, there is a wonderful example printed on how to do Step 4.... it works :)
Failed 12 Step Call? Not if we walk away sober!
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby bbqking » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:49 pm

Tasha37 wrote:Hi everyone,
The way I've been shown to do step 4 is extremely thorough, not the way in which I see others at AA meetings doing it, and im told it is likely to take over a year, purely on step 4 alone.
I've been working at it consistently every day since May, and I'm not even a quarter of the way through.

I'd just like to know whether or not other members think that this is excessive. I'm just worried that whilst everything is going well in my life now, this window of sobriety which I've had to date may not last another year if I'm just stuck on step 4 for that length of time.

Also, my sponsor hasn't ever gone through the big book with me, and she doesn't expect me to call her weekly, or at all.


No - shouldn't take year of every day writing unless you are writing a several thousand pages worth - and I don't know any sponsor who has weeks of free time to hear all that. Just focus on major things, leave out taking your brothers candy while in kindergarten and all that kind of stuff.

Read the book yourself and ask her questions if you have any, or ask anyone at a meeting who has worked the steps - sometimes hearing multiple perspectives is the best way to go anyway.

As far as a calling schedule, some are like that and some aren't. Depends on what the expectations are - old school is one alcoholic helping another; not an authoritative or supervisor - subordinate relationship - more like call if/when you need to talk for have questions while working the steps. New school sponsorship has morphed things into an authoritative or kind of boss - subordinate relationship, where they are your "life boss" so to speak and tell you what to do, meeting and calling instructions etc... run all decisions by them.

Sounds like you might have met a sponsor who may be more in line with earlier AA practices. This is a good thing for some people, others may prefer the more controller - dependent style of sponsorship.

If you don't feel this sponsor able to help you through the steps, then yes, find another.
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Conorryan623 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:00 am

Hi Kasha,
Oh my God, I’m sorry but it boils my blood to hear of newcomers being sponsored in such a way. The founders of this organisation used to start on their 4th step while still in detox and have it done in a few days. My own experience bares this out.
I am 12 years sober, and couldn’t stop over eating. I couldn’t go more than a week or 2 on my own power if at all, so how could I wait a year or 2?! Luckily my sponsor understood alcoholism and the impending spiritual malady that gets worse over time. Within 2 weeks, the obsession was gone and it has not returned.
I guess in a lot of cases, the role of a sponsor has become someone to lean on and give out about things when life becomes tough. This act of leaning on the sponsor should only be a short term one for the first couple of weeks until we have had the spiritual experience. Anyt sponsor is human, and therefore has the possibility to let us down.
The purpose of the Big Book of AA is that it is a text book with clear instructions on how to have a spiritual experience, and then to have God direct our lives for us. Therefore, the role of a sponsor is to guide us through the steps and leave the rest to God.
Sponsorship can be done badly especially by those who have not been guided through the steps properly themselves and have not had a spiritual awakening, or have not maintained it. Going to extra meetings do not treat alcoholism. The only way of becoming free and happy is to get a sponsor, go through all of the steps and get busy helping drunks!
I am always available to discuss sponsorship at (email edited out-Please feel free to contact the OP via PM). Feel free to reach out to me at any stage.
Best wishes,
Conor.
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Re: Step 4 expected to take up to a year

Postby Roberth » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:42 pm

Hello Kasha, my name is Robert and I am a Los Angeles area alcoholic. My sponsor believe the first 8 steps could be done in 8 hrs. He actually wrote my fourth step out for me. He show up at my house with a pad of paper and pen and told me to start talking as he walked me through it .... We did in 3 hrs. the 4 and 5th steps. Was it the most thorough? no but it was the best I could do at the time. what it did was take the fear of inventory out of me. 26 years later I still take pen to paper(well kinda, I write on my computer now) when something bothers.
Robert
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