The principle behind this Step is courage.
First off I know many of you are very apprehensive when doing this step as itís a really big one so we will be doing it over two weeks. I know I was terrified of this step at first because I had so many skeletons in my closet and of course I believed that if you knew the real me, and not the mask I presented to the world, you wouldnít like me. Fortunately for me when I came into the program Iím the kind of person who has to do things straight away, and so I worked the first three steps in record time because after all Iím a perfectionist and get things done quickly. I only realised much later that Iíd never be finished with the first three steps or in fact any of them, but back then I still believed Iíd work the steps and graduate and be fixed.
Of course I wanted to do this step perfectly and there really is no perfect way to do step four. The main thing is that we just do it. The first fourth step I ever took was merely a saga of my life and all the terrible things Iíd ever done because at that point I really thought I was this dreadful person. Besides all the things Iíd done or omitted to do, where food was concerned I was a disaster and had spent money that should have been for my family. There are various ways to do step four and any way is right, because the housecleaning we do in this step is an ongoing process and we never really get finished. But what that fourth step taught me when I shared it in step five was that I was a worthwhile person despite all Iíd done. I shared it at that stage with a very dear friend who was a Catholic nun but who knew 12 step programs and at the end of this whole sorry tale, she simply told me that I was still a wonderful person and that she still loved me and I really needed that unconditional love.
The next fourth step I did with my current sponsor at the time, and I did it the way the Big Book described with fears, resentments as well as answering a whole lot of questions from the 12 & 12 of OA, and that one helped me see a whole lot of my character defects. Of course I thought I knew many of them like perfectionism and being critical and judgmental, but I discovered some others I really didnít want to own up to like self pity which is a huge one for me and feeds into my depression.
But each time Iíve done a fourth step I peel more of those layers of the onion, and whilst itís scary finding more defects and other things about me I donít like, at the same time itís teaching me that whilst I may have these defects and Iím not perfect, which for a perfectionist is hard, at the same time Iíve learned that as it says in the literature if I make a mistake Iím not that mistake.
Some of the wonderful lifeís lessons Iíve learned from various step fours is firstly that I do have assets as well as bad qualities, because in the past I just always saw the bad and never the good. Also when doing resentments I was finally able to own up to my side of things rather than always thinking it was the other personís fault. In the past my thinking had always been that the reason I compulsively overate was because of what the other person had or hadnít done. I mean if you had a mother, ex husband, child or whatever like I had, youíd also have to eat. So it was all about poor me and as they say in AA, ďPoor me, poor me, pour me a drinkĒ. Except for me it was to go and attack the fridge or the cupboard or the shops.
According to the Big Book resentment is the number one offender and boy did I have a long list of people and things I was resentful at in the beginning, but the good news is that just recently when I did another fourth step, the list wasnít nearly as long. As for the fears, that also seems to have gotten better so I know that this program is slowly making me a better person, but itís a slow process. As it says in the Big Book, ďClear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.Ē p.163.
This week weíll make a start in doing the housecleaning necessary in step four and weíll do the rest next week.
ASSIGNMENT AND QUESTIONS ON STEP FOUR
Read step four in the OA 12 & 12 if you have it and Chapter 5 in the Big Book, in particular pages 64-71.
1. Are you ready to be searching and fearless?
2. How will you know if you are ready?
3. What fears do you still have about taking this step?
4. Have you ever taken an inventory in another area of your life?
5. Before looking at some of the negative things list all the assets and qualities about yourself that you like.
6. Now do a resentment list using the format in the BB p.65
7. Now do a list of your fears and how that affects you.
Because youíll be sharing this with a sponsor in step five, he/she will probably be able to help you discover what character defect underlies various resentments and fears. But you may also get some insights as you write all the positive and negative things down.
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Hi again friends on this recovery journey with me and Iím sure as most of you will have already found, this step is not only rather scary at first but itís also quite daunting and time consuming to unpack all that stuff that weíve kept hidden for so long. But donít despair seeing that we are doing this step in two weeks, and besides which this is a step that we do need to keep going back to so we can peel away more layers of the onion so to speak. I know I keep going back and I often find some more stuff. But I guess Iím realising thatís what makes me human.
Hopefully youíve finished doing the resentments and fears and may have seen that quite a lot of stuff may have come up around them. You may also have seen how some of them especially the fears are totally irrational, and in addition you may very well have even been able to pick up a whole lot of character defects that underlie each fear or resentment.
I know that for me many of the resentments I had when doing step four were ones that were current at the time, but there were also lots related to my past. I had spent so much time in the past feeling sorry for myself and being angry at people and so I lived totally in blame as well as lots of guilt. Many of my resentments from way back were against my mom who sadly had passed away before I found program. What I realised then was that even though for example I had been resentful at my mom for not being the kind of mom I thought I should have, in reality she was only doing the best she knew how at the time. And of course when I looked at stuff in the more recent past I realised that like my mom, I was also doing the best I knew how at the time in bringing up my kids. Luckily for me I had a chance to make amends to them and do things differently and so will you.
I think for me once I started doing the action steps of the program starting with step four, I began to see my part in many things and began taking responsibility for my actions. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity I realised that I could do something positive for my recovery which enabled me to start the healing process in my life not only around the food but in all the rest of my life and especially my relationships.
Assignment and more questions on step four
1. Do you take other peoples' inventories? In other words have you been so busy looking at othersí faults that you donít see your own?
2. Have you been arrogant and prideful and tried to control others?
3. Do you take responsibility for the mistakes youíve made?
4. Have you been self righteous and unforgiving of others?
5. Have you ever stolen anything to feed your addiction?
6. Have you ever been selfish in the way you use or misuse sex?
7. How has negative thinking affected you? In other words have you often talked yourselves out of doing things you werenít sure you could do?
8. Are you willing to pray for those who have done you harm as well as beginning to learn tolerance and patience towards them, and to realise that they are also struggling in a difficult world much like you are?
9. Are you open to the possibility of at some time being able to make amends to those whom you have hurt?
FOURTH STEP PRAYER: Dear God, It is I who has 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 fearless moral inventory. I will write down my wrongs. But I will also include that which is good. I pray for the strength to complete this task.
The Twelve Steps