Choices and Step Four/Five

Last night I had a really hard time sleeping, though I’m not completely sure how/why. I had taken a long relaxing bath and did some reading. We turned in at around 10 PM and I was fast asleep – and then woke up at 11:30 PM. FINALLY got back to sleep at 3 AM, and had to get up at 5 AM for the gym. Honestly, at 3 AM I considered just staying up all night so that I would be sure to go to the gym. I was very much awake and worried that with the little amount of sleep, I would be more tired. And yep – I was. WAY more tired. So I did CHOOSE to decide to skip the gym, hoping to get in a good walk today. I never did get my walk in, but I got in some good “mental” exercise, so I’m okay with it.

I went to my meeting – another great one. A lot was discussed about the whole “forcing” vs. “helping” within the AA program. It helps me as a new person to hear from the ones who have been in the program for a long time, and I do think that they appreciate my perspective, so I feel validated. Oh – when I first went in the meeting room, I heard a loud voice from the coffee room and thought it was my friend who was doing the “forcing” on me. I took a deep breath and was ready to behave like an adult if she was there. Turns out it was someone else, but I was glad I was going to be okay if she had been there. Afterwards, I was able to get a bit of one on one time with two of the ladies from the group who are about my age. It’s hard to put into words, but their encouragement was just so…encouraging. They “get me.” They know that I know what needs to be done. And *I* am the one to figure out how to keep on keeping on. They both had a really tough time at the beginning as well. When I got home, I texted them both just to thank them for listening – and to see if they might want to do lunch one day. Because I know I need to reach out more.

So…I was able to get quite a bit of work done today which is always a good thing. Had a very good call that I was dreading, and took care of some phone calls that were needed in regards to appointments/finances/etc – the stuff that has to get done that I’m REALLY good at putting off. But a lot of it is now DONE.

I decided that it was time to really start working on Step 4. Those not familiar with the AA program, it is a fearless and moral inventory of ourselves. Naming past behaviors that we are not proud of. Putting it all into writing. The point of it all (and any who are more familiar with AA than me, please feel free to chime in) is to own up to your past. Then discuss it with another person (usually your sponsor). And then put it behind you. Leave it. Those are part of the OLD me and now I am entrenched in the new me. I”m guessing that it’s okay that I talk about the steps in here. I know AA is in the spirit of anonynmity – but – someone could google AA fourth step and find the gist of what I just wrote. So hopefully I’m not breaking any rules/traditions!

I have to tell you – it has been painful to type it all out. I am already on page 10 and I still have 3 years of my life to go. It is longer because I am writing it more in a story form. Not all of it is full of terrible things – some is backstory, and some are things that actually went well which they ask you to include. The perfectionist in me says “if I’m gonna do this step, I’m gonna do it *right*”. Ha ha. And I’m sure I’m not the first alcoholic to think this way. My therapist has agreed to work the steps with me. I did talk with one of the gals who is a sponsor to express my concerns about getting a sponsor. Kind of like I’m not 100% sure of everything I’m willing to do and don’t want to waste anyone’s time. She was very helpful – there’s a fine line and it can sometimes be a bit of a Catch 22. But her input helped a lot and gave me food for thought.

So…anyways…this Step Four thing is really interesting. I truly feel like I am learning a lot about myself. I am able to distinguish exactly when I went from being a social drinker to one who would rather drink in secret. I’m analyzing my childhood to figure out if anything is relative. Once I finish it up, as hard as it’s gonna be (and I’m gonna need a two hour session), I actually look forward to sharing it all with my therapist. I seriously envision me jsut going in there and reading it start to finish. I’m sure she will take notes…and we can do follow up on specific points later. But I want to get it all out, and sooner rather than later. Some are pretty minor but worth mentioning. Nothing resulted in loss of life or home or family members. But some of them really put a lump in my throat. And sometimes I would remember something and then remember that it had happened before, in a similar manner. I’m looking forward to releasing these secrets. It’s hard doing the work, but I’m willing to do the work. That’s something I couldn’t really say a month ago, so I guess when you’re ready, you’re ready. I have a feelign that the release is gonna be mind blowing.

Whew. That’s a lot of work for one day. I am a bit on the emotionally exhausted side. Ready to go take a look at Food Network site and figure out something amazingly yummy to make for dinner tonight. Just hubby and I so I’m gonna go a little gourmetish.

I just wanted to make sure that I got this in for the day. I know that I also feel better when I share and post. Thanks for stopping by and listening. Huge hugs to you all 🙂


8 thoughts on “Choices and Step Four/Five

  1. Keep it simple! This isn’t a life story 🙂 It’s 4 columns – the what/who, what happened, what it affected and your part. That’s it 🙂 No back story needed. I did it bullet form, as described in the book. I think if you are doing stuff with your therapist, you can certainly get more into it. But if it’s your sponsor (or whomever you choose), keep it simple and to the point, or else it becomes a novel 😉

    This is why a sponsor is very important. You expressed concern that you would be “wasting” someone’s time by asking them to sponsor you…let go of that…you are doing someone a favour when you ask them if they can sponsor you! You are helping them as much if not more by having them work with you. It’s an amazing thing, speaking as a sponsor myself. (I am hearing a 5th step tomorrow, actually)

    I rarely go to someone blog to give unwanted advice…so forgive me…but I feel a sponsor is the best way of going about this. She can pass on the nuts and bolts of the steps plus give her own experience as to how she did the steps. Getting into the “why” isn’t so much important as to the what happened and what our part in it was. It’s that fourth column – our part (were we selfish? dishonest? angry? fearful?) that we really get into the meat and potatoes of the work!

    Anyway, if you want, I can send you a worksheet based out of the Big Book that can illustrate how to do it. I can relate to you how I have shown others to do it as well. ( I was going to send you a private email on this, but can’t find it on your blog). you can email me at: (how nerdy AA is THAT email address? Sigh. I need a life) LOL.


    P.S the idea of getting this all out is awesome…that’s what we do in this 4th – clear the garbage out. Put it into the light, observe it, then discard or use as needed. Nothing else. It’s wonderful stuff…hard at times, but it’s the real deal 🙂

  2. Hi Paul!!! I was specifically hoping you would stop by to comment! I was going to reply to you via private email, but decided instead to post here so that anyone else who might happen to be in this same boat might benefit from our dialogue. On that note, how DO I put my email address somewhere on this blog?!?

    I DEFINITELY know that I “overthought” it and “overdid” it. I was working from the AA approved 12 Step book and The Woman’s Way 12 Step books, as well as the Woman’s Way 12 Step Workbook. My plan was to simply do free form typing for the first go round, and then break it down into simple concrete pieces. I have to say – just writing through it all was incredibly therapeutic for me. Just reading through it made me recognize patterns, and this might sound ridiculous, but it helped confirm that I am not just some social drinker who had a few “oopsies.”

    Thanks for the offer on the copy of the chart – I did not have that tool, so that will be great to simplify it. Ironically, I’m so glad that I did it kinda “wrong” the first time because I probably got more out of those few hours of time than I have in awhile. It was almost like a turning point for me, personally, because I tend to toy with the idea of “I’m not bad” so why should I quit drinking. I was able to recognize specific, concrete examples that truly motivate me to continue forward on my journey. But I do look forward to using the chart to get to the “our part.”

    What I LOVE about your “unsolicited” advice is that you offer it in such a gentle, friendly way. You are not force feeding me. Here is my hesitation with having a sponsor, and I am not using this as an “out” in case that’s what it looks like. At one of my very first meetings, I was talking to some women about sponsors. And one said something to the effect of “Yep – when you get one, they will basically look you straight in the eye and ask you – are you willing to do WHATEVER it takes to stop drinking?”

    Paul (and all) – I’ve always been honest so why stop now. I don’t 100% know that I would be willing to do WHATEVER it takes. I am absolutely 100% more than willing to use all of my tools and to continue to reach out for help and advice and to come here and talk to my friends. But WHATEVER it takes is a bit on the overwhelming side for me. Now I know that they are not going to make me climb Mount Everest or learn how to play the cello or recite the Laws of Gravity. I just know that from what I’m hearing, the first “assignment” is 90 in 90, and honestly, I don’t know that I can commit to that.

    My other “hesitation” is disappointment. It is hard enough when I am disappointed in myself. It adds to it when I feel like I’m disappointing someone like Belle when I have to report in that I’m back to Day One (even though she always helps me get dusted off and back on track). Now I KNOW that a sponsor is still going to rah rah me along, and to help me continue to learn from my experiences…but it’s almost like I’m so fragile that disappointing a real live human being would devastate me. On the flip side, with a sponsor’s support, I am sure that I am LESS likely to drink, hence the disappointment piece would not be relevant. It’s almost like a Catch 22.

    So here’s my bottom line (for now) and I see many of you rolling your eyes and shaking your heads in countries across the globe. For NOW, I would like to try this “my way”. I know that statistically, AA members with a sponsor tend to go the long haul with this journey. I completely understand and respect that it is the “suggested” way to go about this. But…I also see a lot of sobriety out here on these boards without a program and without a sponsor. Maybe I’m looking for middle ground?

    How about I make you this promise, Paul? And you can completely hold me to it. My goal for right now is a solid 30 days. I’m not communicating days out here, but let’s just say that when I reach it, the sobersphere will know. There will be trumpets and neon signs and a huge flash mob to announce it. But how about this. If I do NOT hit the 30 day mark this time around, I promise to get a sponsor. There, I said it – even more motivation/inspiration to not drink!!!

    I hope this made sense in some way, shape or form!!! You are such an amazing testament to the “helping others” piece of the program. My hope is that if I do get to where I find that sponsor, that I find someone who has a lot of “Paul” in them.

    Gonna go send you an email 🙂 And as always, THANKS!

  3. Wow, great discussion here! The fourth step was really hard for me because I didn’t want to see my part in any of it, but, the truth is, that’s what helped me get and stay sober. As alcoholics, we tend to think it’s all someone else’s fault, but in order to deflate our BIG bubble we need to see our part in everything. It’s very humbling, but also very needed. I look at it as wiping the slate clean; starting over so we can build ourselves up again.

    Okay, and about the 90 and 90. Nowhere in the Big Book does it say you have to do 90 meetings in 90 days. I did 30 in 30 as my sponsor suggested and felt that was sufficient to get me connected and plugged in. This is YOUR journey and you find what works for you. Like Paul. I think having a sponsor is a really important part of the program and staying sober, but, like I said, it’s your life and your sobriety so do what feels “right.”

    I wish you all the best! Thanks for encouraging great discussion and bringing up these important topics!

    • I’m with you on this one Chenoa…this thing about 90 in 90 really steams my clams sometimes. As if it’s gospel or something. What if you make 80 out of 90? Are you less willing then? Are you going to alcoholic hell? Are you going to fail miserably in recovery? Ridiculous. What if you’re a working single mom who wants to recover, but can make 2-3 meetings a week? Oh no!!!!!!!! Heresy!!!!

      The simple fact remains is that it’s the steps we take, not the meetings we make. And listen, I didn’t do 90 in 90. I did 210 in 90. Crazy, but that is what I needed, and I wasn’t working, had no responsibilities, etc. So recovery was all I did and that is what I needed. I don’t recommend that to anyone, nor would I expect anyone to do that.

      The point of hitting meetings often at first is to get the message. To connect with others, to find a sponsor, to hear what is going on, to understand the program. After that, it is what it is. On a good week I get to two meetings. Sometimes I go two weeks without a meeting. It’s fine. As long as I am connected in other ways, I am good.

      Good topic indeed!


      • Thanks to both of you. I love going to my 8 AM meeting – so that’s at least 20 days a month. I do agree that it’s more the steps I’m taking (both the 12 steps and actually steps as I’m growing) that are the most important…but I do love that I’m always learning something in every single meeting that I go to. I feel blessed to have individuals who have experience with AA to comment on my blog as well as those who are not involved with AA. I think it takes a myriad of tools to be successful, and I am so lucky to have found so many!

  4. Ugh…can you send me your last email to me. Google went gaga on me (or it was my own fault, no doubt) and I lost a whack of emails…and yours got lost in the melee. Please send me your last email to me and I will send ya what I got. Sorry!!!


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