Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


Hi, my name is Thumper and I'm a compulsive overeater. In my essay I described a clear path toward finishing our 4th steps. Well, I have to be honest and say that it was a whole lot easier to write that essay than it was to do my 4th step! : ) In fact, since this is a program of honesty, I will tell you that it took me almost FOUR years to complete my inventory. What I'm telling about here is not a recommendation, it's merely my story and hopefully you will share yours with us as well.

I followed the format as described in the Big Book and I got off to a great start. I actually had fun doing the grudge list - I called it "pencil whipping" all those people who I was angry with or had resentments against. I tackled the big ones first. Heck, it was easy to see I had been done wrong by MANY people and I went to it with a vengeance. My parents? They got at least several pages of things I was angry at them about. My spouse? There went a few more full pages! Siblings? Same goes for them! Bosses? Ditto! I wrote furiously for a couple of days and pages just kept piling up! Hey, the 4th step wasn't so bad!

Ahem! Then I got to the part where I had to take stock of my own faults in all these relationships without being able to "defend" myself with the justifications for my actions. Hmmm, maybe not so much fun, huh? My parents? All those lies, the stealing, the name calling. Bosses? Those hours spent shirking my duties or helping myself to the petty cash. Siblings? I didn't much care for writing about how much of a bully I had been to them. Spouse? Sheesh, I don't even want to go through those again! Selfish, dishonest, or self-seeking? Oh boy!

Ok, got through that, now what? Oh yeah, fears! What fears? Me? A tough macho guy? Yeah, right! Exposing this facade, even on paper, was a shameful experience for me. Maybe it sounds silly, but I really hadn't planned on telling anyone that I used to walk almost a mile out of my way on winter evenings going home from school because I was afraid to walk by the local graveyard.

Now about sex?? Selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? Give me a break, I'm a guy and I'm supposed to be that way, right? Be dishonest just to get laid? Who, me? Oh yeah, and let's not mention those little sex experimentations that nobody has a right to know about!

Yeah, writing this stuff down was a little uncomfortable, but not entirely impossible to do. But the thing was, my fourth step wasn't quite done. There were a few things yet that I hadn't written down. Why not? Because I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The deep shame, the humiliation, the horror at some of those things from my past - I just couldn't bring myself to commit them to paper. I guess I just wasn't yet convinced that I couldn't somehow successfully negotiate life and still die with these secrets intact. That lack of being convinced is what kept me in the food for so much longer than it really had to. Food was the way I numbed myself from these things in my past. Food was my savior. Unfortunately, the food was also killing me.

And some of it wasn't even about me or at least wasn't about any overt character defect, yet how could I bring myself to write down that my mother was a diagnosed and hospitalized schizophrenic and that I lived in fear that I would contract the same disease? Or that I had allowed myself to be victimized by an older male relative? I wasn't able to tell my sponsor of these things, but I was at least able to tell him the difficulties I was having with them and he offered some suggestions for "desensitizing" myself to them. One of his suggestions was to write the stuff down on a piece of paper and then immediately flush it down the toilet. Another was to practice writing them down with my fingertip instead of a pen or pencil.

Some of these things seemed to work for a while but then it would fade and I would again find myself unwilling to put them to paper. I considered killing myself rather than completing my 4th step, yet I feared death even more than I feared not dying, and I hadn't the guts to do anything about it anyway. I only wanted to die, not actually make it happen. It wasn't until I realized that I WAS dying, of my compulsive eating disorder, that I knew I had nothing to lose, so with some type of resolve that had to have come from some source other than myself, I dusted off my tablet my 4th step was on, wrote those sentences down in less than 5 minutes, wrote my sponsor, and told her it was time to do my 5th step.

But that's a story for next week! : )

What was doing the 4th step like for you? Did you have fears about completing it? How did you feel afterwards? If you are just doing your 4th step this week, I'd love to hear how it is going for you and what it has been like!


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