Step Four

Made a searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves..

Leader's Share and Step Questions

Phyllis here; chunkie, drunkie, junkie...clean, sober, abstinent since May 20, 1972


Once more, our brains are terrified. We say, "are you kidding?" What is that all about. Once again, a sponsor, the fellowslhip will clarify for you. Book definition "We examine our lives up to the present day, writing down all important actions and events of a moral or ethical nature, our feeling about them and the character traits in us from which these action stemmed." ..."this is one of the most loving things we ever did for ourselves. It is the understanding and beginning of emotional healing". OA 12x12. "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing be changed until it is faced" James Baldwin

"But" you say, "I am here for you to show me how to eat normally. Just give me the diet and I will do it alone". NOT! Compulsive eaters are isolative people. They don't want to be around anyone when planning, indulging, or after a binge. That pretty much makes us untrusting, shy, frightened people when it comes to relationships of any kind. Here in this step, you are asked to share your innermost thoughts with someone you don't know. I never shared feelings with anyone because I knew the minute we part and you are talking to other people, you are talking about me. I don't want you to know what a failure I feel like, how "stupid" I can be. You will hear all of my secrets. (We are as sick as our secrets), and I will be naked in the world. Everyone will know. I will be stripped of my identity!

Wow! That's not what happens. Our past problems have been controlling us for years and we do not know it. When a problem is faced, it always, becomes less powerful. Whe I first came to Program, I was told, "I only have to change one thing.....everything". Where do you begin. I have a theory there are four fears that will cause me to eat, drink, hate myself and you. They are fear of failure, fear of rejection, inadequacy, and loss of control. Every negative feeling I've had was based on fear.

In the AA BB, there is a format for writing your 4th step. It is clearly defined and works very well. There are other formats you might consider. Some do it chronologically. Some divide it by years or periods, some do it by relationships. There may be a time frame in your life that stands out. Others do it by seeking out old photos or music. There are many questions to consider in the OA and the Workbook. You can just make a line down the center of a page listing positive and negatives.

We must always remember that it is our inventory, not the anyone else's. I used another format based on the 7 deadly Sins, with a few additions, Theft, Pride, Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Lust. Resentment, Guilt, Honesty.l I feel it is important to acknowledge the positive side of all negative behaviors and there are asssets to consider. I used an old reference book called APOAR, Applied Principles of Addictive Recovery. It is like taking inventory in a store; 2 blue, 1 green, etc.

We are surprised that it may not always be the big things we remember, but the small incidents that caused us to stuff our feelings. Identify those feelings and discuss them with your choice of person in Step 5. I also believe that the last category, mentioned before, should be a positive list that will guide us in recovery.

When I first came to Program, I was sold that I "only have to change one thing....everything! I did not know how to change things. I could change my outfit, my opinion, jobs my mind, etc. I did not know or never kneew how to change situations unless I ran from them. And, when I did, it was Fight, Flight, or in my case......Bite. It seemed that there many more difficult times than good times.(This will change) Funny, the things we remember. Attitudes are deadly. Silence and indifference are also very deadly. I wanted to sue my family for malpractice. It was a survival of the loudest. I remember!

Never able to please my Mother, I could never come close to prefect. However, reality was that I was never really good at being bad. I was bright, capable...but was told I"was fat, ugly, lazy, and stupid. I believed it. Mothers never lie! I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. "They did the best they could with what they had". Honesty, Humility and Willingness very vital here, too. Things seemed to fit better and I realized that recovery in all area was worth striving for.

I was now seeing some kind of pattern in the Steps, how they really come together, how they are "diversionary tactics" to get us out of ourselves. These revelations bring us closer together. I was not aware I did "wrong"things. I had secrets. I had tremendous shame, blame, and a better-than-you brattitude. I was filled with fears and sometimes thought was less than the lowest form of life. I entertained some very bad choices but did not carry them out. I was brought up by fearful people and carried huge loads themselves. Coming to Program ws the first miracle....I could change, so I took the chance, made the choice, and worked those challenges!

I will go into some of these so you get the feeling. I mentioned change, this begins with honesty. For example, I lied about what I ate, how much I ate especially if it belonged to someone else. I would eat before or after a dinner date. I told people that I was on a doctor's plan. I lied about exercise. I led about my weight (on driver's license, insurance forms). I lied about where I was born, where I lived, dates, books I had (not) read. etc, etc. These may not be big deals, but why did I lie? I was afraid if you found out, you would not like me, accept me, etc. So, I went about creating different personalities to adapt to whomever it was. If you want me to be blue, okay. If you want pink, also okay. Like a chameleon, I will be whatever you want, so "like me, please".

When I think about Theft, it is about stealing time, affection, expecting perfection from others, unworthiness, making jokes about myself (before someone else does), from G-d for not using His gifts, by the amount of money spent on doctors and diets, etc., by intolerance, denying pleasure for myself or others and on and on. I would read endless books, watch TV to avoid doing something worthwhile. Guilt replaced me an "out". As you start to write, you will discover all the things that made you hungry.

Pride this can be positive if you work hard and earn what you wanted. I can be proud of my sons. I can feel good about people and Program. But on the other hand, lying,not admitting faults or mistakes, allow myself to be intimidated, standing on ceremony, entertaining "large", false humility, class conscious, "someone else can do it (because I don't want to), do I listen or thinking of my response, self centered, focus on me, want witnesses for my hard work, need to be right. This list continues. Once again, I am fearful of divulging the whole truth. Temper gets me in trouble, pride keeps me there. Pride is orange.

Greed and gluttony not about food. Never have enough, my needs are the only ones that are important; to be important, grievance collector, greedy for money, power, knowledge shopping, manipulative, relationships, RESPECT, passion for comfort, instant results, acceptance, books, papers, cosmetics/perfume. jewelry. Again, fear, fear, fear dressed in different costumes just laying in wait for me to weaken. This is not as terrible as it may sound to you, but it a good enough reason for me to be vigilant. We must make room for improvement. An act of self-control leads to feeling of self-respect. Greed and gluttony are brown

Envy can be positive if we copy something that a person does, wears,etc., and the effect is good, it could be admiration. If I am secure and have self-esteem there is no envy. I may be envious of: athletes, people who write well, people who are confident, of beautiful homes, people who can say yes and no appropriately, people who handle confrontation and competition, beauty, stable families, high energy people, good sense of humor, goal oriented people,people who balance life well, people to whom things come easily. Envy is a passive emotion. Envy is yellow.

Jealousy, on the other hand, is envy with anger. It lives rent free in my head until the explosion which will come sooner or later.People who are assertive, achievers, moderate, easy getters, people who know who they are, people who do not have this disease, causes much grief and wastes time. Just look through a magazine and see what the world is supposed to look like. Jealousy is red.

Sloth is a single syllabel word for procrastinator. lazy, pretty slow moving. Puts things off and doesn't remember to tell you, slow moving eople doing housework, mending, ironing,hobbies, people who do not look after the money, checkbooks,credit cards, dont want to give service in Program, taking responsibility for their food, not understanding my on feelings at times.

Next, we are going to talk about Fear of rersponsbility , of not being perfect, being judged, losing a loved one. being vulnerable, not reaching my potential, fear of being teased, fear of committment, faith in the wrong thing. Fear of my own sexuality, expressing feelings, letting go, new unfamiliar situations. Fear of G-d. Fear I will not be able to..........fill in the blanks.

Resentment is the next defect on the list. The meaning is an old feeling that is resent...often mistaken with anger, jealousy. Someone says something to you and it is a criticism.. Immediately you tink of your mother or father who said the same thing in the same tone and feeling fly to the moon, resent feeling less than, authority figure, mstreatment of people , admitting powerlessness, physical and emotional problems, not being appreciated, expectations and disappointments. My children all knew and said so that "mommy does not make promises. we will just have to see" People in Program who do not share. We need your imput and your service. These lists go on and on. But you write to the point you remember. There will be 4th steps in your future.

Sex is an interesting topic under these circumstances. Am I honest with myself in those conditionsfear of sexuality, latent homosexual feelings, trust vs vulnerability, food instead of sex, sloth in sex and personal hygiene. Us of drugs, stimulants, alcohol, pornography,. Communication to my partner. lack of knowledge, using sex as a weapon, How do I dress, and come across. What type of person appealed to me. Why did I need the distorted attention? Was this another attention to cause shame and self-hate? Lots of questions here that needed clarification.

Chapter 5 in the AA BigBook.. "Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this SIMPLE program, usuallly men and women who are constituitionally incapable of being hones with themselves. Again, I was afraid of losing my personhood if I told "all.

Once again, please continue the BB and the 2 12x12 books. There are those of us who feel "the answer to all our problems are written there. So, here we are, 1/3 through the program. You made it!Please stick with it and let's finish together. I had no idea I would still be here. I moved 3000 miles away in my 5th year of program and knew that I would find program wherever I went...and I did.

Doing a 4th step is like taking a shower, you will have better relationships if you do. As you experience feelings, you are longer stuffing them and able to take deep breaths. This life is like a train ride. It's fast and you can't see the engine!


Dear G-d; It is I who have made my life a mess. I have done it, but I cannot undo it. My mistakes are mine, and I will begin a searching and rearless moral inventory. I will write down my wrongs. I will also include that which is good. I pray for the strength to complete the task.

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