Alumni Experience with the 4th Step

Made a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves…

I am not a first-time winner and here is the reason why:  I never did a fourth step.  My first sponsor had explained the reason why it was important to complete as thoroughly and honestly as possible… why it needed to be done, how she had heard it all before, “there is nothing I could write down that would shock her”… I was safe!  

I believed her, but for some reason- every time I went to pick up my fourth step notebook it was like 4 million pounds.  I couldn’t force myself to do it.  However, when I finally did crack open that notebook; I would suddenly remember all the chores I had been putting off.  My house was never so clean, but my “inner house” was still a disaster.

Why was this step so daunting??  What could possibly go wrong?  Wasn’t I promised freedom? Relief? What could be wrong with that?

I never wanted to look at myself in the mirror.  I never wanted to admit that I played a role in any of those specially crafted resentments I had created over the years.  I wanted to stay the victim!

I remained the victim because I ultimately drank again.  It’s not enough to just put down the drink or the drug… that’s the easy part.  The work must come from the inside. We must clean house!

Years later, when I finally surrendered, I made a decision to do whatever it took to get clean & sober.  I took an action when I surrendered… I gave up.  I surrendered to this disease.  I knew I couldn’t manage it on my own anymore.  There was an asshole living in my head and she was NOT giving me good advice. She wanted me drunk and high.  She wanted me to die.

So, the journey back to life and freedom began.  It began at Dream Center for me.  I was that rehab nerd in the big house doing her homework and reading so Jeannie would be proud of me.  Mostly, I did the work because I didn’t want to die.  I was fighting for my life.  I was motivated.

Once I came home from DCR and met my sponsor… we spoke about the steps and we specifically spoke about step four.  I had always feared this step for the reasons I mentioned above.  Not this time.  Something changed inside of me.  I was actually excited to get to step four!  My feeling was that I finally had an opportunity to fully address the issues about myself that needed to be fixed.  I wanted to be better.  I wanted the freedom my sponsor told me about. I wanted to embark on this crucially important step.

As I wrote out this step, I started to see my patterns of behavior.  One of the patterns that I noticed again and again was regarding expectations. Apparently, my faulty expectations created a lot of issues for me.  I would never have seen that had I not sat down and did a thorough fourth step.  

Once I started to see how it was working, it became easier to understand how resentments were created.  On the flip side, it became seriously easy to see how forgiveness was the next step, forgiveness of me and forgiveness for those that I had perceived as hurting me.   Don’t get me wrong, there was some unforgivable hurt on those papers, but for me to forgive was freeing for me, not a get-out-of-jail-free-card for the person who had harmed me.  

Doing a fourth step was important for my recovery for without understanding myself and what really happened… I would not have been able to move forward.  

I now understand the steps are in their order for a reason:  had I not been able to first admit I was an alcoholic and that my life had become unmanageable, I wouldn’t have been “inspired” to become healthier in mind, body and spirit, this is what recovery is about for me.

Please don’t be afraid of the fourth step… it is a life changer!-

  • Nicole S.