I read my partners 4th Step

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I read my partners 4th Step

Post by Skinat123 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:44 pm

My partner has been sober for almost 8 years and in a relationship with me for 2 1/2. We have recently moved in together and have had a tough time of it, communication and expectations mainly. I do not have an substance abuse issues. When we met I read the big book and a looked into AA online. I attended a meeting on my own to see for myself what it was about for those attending.

He has told me almost nothing about previous relationships or issues in his life, despite my questions. For the most part I have let it go, imagining some things were likely memories or events that might be difficult or confronting to be honest about. As our relationship has progressed though, this 20 year gap in his life and past relationships has created a lot of uncertainty for me about his feelings or commitment. When we first met he would put his hand in my face when i asked a question about his past, more recently he would avoid the question and state that he was an alcoholic for 20 years (and thus I should understand the implications of this). I have always maintained that honesty and trust are fundamentals to me for us to develop an intimate and close relationship.

Not long after he moved in I found his 4th step inventory and read it, this was about 2 months ago. I wasn't snooping or looking for it, I didn't imagine it was be something i would find in a backpack in our cupboard. I was pretty hurt by what I read, I had absolutely no insight into any of it, none. Prostitutes, cheating in relationships, anger issues and restraining orders... Nothing I read changes how I feel about him. The hurt is that he shared nothing with me, no trust or care or openness. Not even letting me know that there were things he was uncomfortable or hard to face.

I told him last night that i had read it, feeling it was time for me to walk the talk and be honest. I was shocked by his response and how upset he became. He told me that it was only something to share with his sponsor and that i should have known that. He said he felt violated, trust broken. i am very sad that I have hurt him so much. But my own needs matter too. His constant need for secrecy always trumps my need for openness in our relationship

I am really confused so looking for some insight, without judgement please. I really thought that AA was about creating honesty and not having secrets. I just want a loving honest relationship with him, he is an amazingly caring and considerate person but he has some terrible anger issues. He shouted at me that AA was none of my business, the past 20 years are none of my business. That hurt a lot.

I dont know what to do, I want to both give up and get help, so would appreciate any insights or advice.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

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Re: I read my partners 4th Step

Post by avaneesh912 » Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:59 am

There is a sister fellowship called al-anon. I am sure you will find lot of help from those members. Because, like you there would be another person who would have read their partners 4th step. In AA, yes we try to clear our side of the street, that doensn't mean, we have to be transparent to everyone. Perhaps he has little bit of trust issue, to share his past with a total strange person.Perhaps its coming out of his past experience. Unlike you another woman could have gone real upset because he was open. If he is still carrying those character defects then its an issue, if not, I would say move on with the relationship. When we change ourselves, others around us will change. So dont try to fix others.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: I read my partners 4th Step

Post by Brock » Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:37 am

Thanks for the question, it helps the older heads here think back on their own 4th step, and probably the newer members think about how much they should share with their pardners, and maybe what to do with the written 4th step after it’s over. I say that because my impression of the step as it’s described in the big book, is that it’s over when we do #5, we discard the written part. In my case I burnt it while saying a prayer to those I had hurt, and it helped me greatly in letting things go.

I don’t know his purpose for holding on to this, perhaps he is doing the 4th step over again for some reason, normally that step would have been done many moons ago, certainly within the first year of sobriety, the big book pretty well says we couldn’t stay sober without it.

As I read through almost to the end, seeing your quite understandable feeling that he should be more open about the past, and what you describe as, ‘his constant need for secrecy always trumps my need for openness in our relationship,’ the word selfishness kept coming to my mind. According to our literature, this is the biggest defect in the make up of alcoholics, and one we must overcome. But then you mention at the end that he is caring and considerate, so maybe he’s not selfish.

In our literature, they are careful to point out that ‘bottles are only a symptom,’ there is also a line which says -”There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.” I am not suggesting that he may have ‘grave’ disorders, but certainly from my own experience, and that of very many I have heard speak, we are open about our past, a lot of laughs are generated in meetings about it. And certainly we are open in order to help other alcoholics, the book says this - “Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you ...have -- the... key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them.”

My gut feeling is he has more problems than the ‘average’ alcoholic, who would have put the contents of their 4th step to bed years ago, and would be living free of any guilt or shame surrounding past misdeeds. I have gained tremendously from the books by Eckhart Tolle, which were recommended by a fellow member here. It showed me that sometimes we actually create an identity out of the past, we won’t let it go because we think it’s who we are. There are many other teachers in book or you tube form, another line in the big book says - “There are many helpful books also,” we are expected to do further study, especially of a spiritual nature, and many AA’s speak of counseling outside of AA to be very helpful, I don’t know if you can encourage him to consider signing up for something like that.

I also like the idea of you considering Al-Anon meetings for yourself, I have the link for finding meetings, here it is - https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/fi ... n-meeting/

Best of luck to you both.
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Re: I read my partners 4th Step

Post by ebear » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:15 am

I second what Avaneesh said about the value of finding shared experience in Al-Anon. I would add that declining to expose all of our past shames is NOT the same as being "dishonest." I do not feel comfortable talking about this IS honest. I was in a relationship with a woman I adored but who had shadows of darkness in her past. I craved to know them; I said there should be no "secrets" between us. But in my case, I was simply prying out of my own obsessive curiosity. I had to remind myself regularly that everything about us in the here-and-now was good, and that her journey to the present that brought us together was her own. Why was I trying to overpower her right to privacy about her past? What was my motive? When I shared my 4th step with my sponsor, I shared experiences that I had thought I would take to the grave without anyone knowing. Having shared them and prayed, I finally began to feel free of them. I did not feel that I must then excavate and expose them to anyone who expressed interest--least of all my wife at the time. I could not bear the thought of her seeing me as I had been then, rather than as I was now. Had someone else read my 4th step, especially anyone outside the private and anonymous world of AA's, I would have been mortified.

Trust is important, and it can be fragile and difficult to recover when violated, and your partner might feel as rocky about trust now as you do.

I wish you the best as you move forward.
Last edited by ebear on Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I read my partners 4th Step

Post by PaigeB » Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:36 am

We have recently moved in together and have had a tough time of it, communication and expectations mainly.
This is not AA "advice"... And it is not judgey, when you ask for feedback, to say that looking at his private papers was the wrong action - continuing to read was a choice. Choices have consequences. Keeping that crap secret is why we drank.

I do not know how I would react if my partner read mine. That kind of gut punch truth is not meant for a human partner, but for God's Eyes only. I would probably literally throw up if I knew he read it - it would definitely change our 20 year relationship... it is NOT a small thing. Not to me. 2 and a half year investment? I'd be gone because I could not live with him knowing... I could not live with him ~ with me having to hide Me AND my things the rest of my life.
I have always maintained that honesty and trust are fundamentals to me for us to develop an intimate and close relationship.
Can you accept that YOU blew it with the TRUST?
But my own needs matter too. His constant need for secrecy always trumps my need for openness in our relationship
Might need to recheck some CORE VALUES...
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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