Having difficulty with Step 4?

12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.
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Postby anniemac » Tue Sep 12, 2006 5:12 pm

Hey GV ~ thanks for your response!

I'm not trying to nitpick, I just like to be real clear on my understanding of what others say, so hope you take it in that light...

When you say "I gotta look at my morality and conduct up to that point that I started on step 4.", I have the same question...even if it's no longer current/present in your life?

For example, what if as a child you pulled the wings off of flies - :shock: - but by the time you were a teen you realized the error of your ways. Is that conduct still relevant in a 4th Step? And if so, why, if that conduct was abandoned long ago? That's the piece I don't get....can't some of our issues/defects have been resolved prior to AA, and if so, why rehash them if they were already put to bed?

I'm not arguing, I'm looking to better understand.... :D

Love this -
"Well I got hurt feelings because I'm not living outside of me."


garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Tue Sep 12, 2006 6:45 pm

Well I have to still keep it simple Annie.

Step 4 gives me the "my role" column that is the same thing as my "character defects" which is how I react to life...as of now. I'm only alive today, not yesterday, so my "reactions" today are the only thing that matters to God and my fellow man or woman. Then I need God to take the idiot out of me in step 7, because I can't do that by myself.

So if I don't have the idiotic "behavior" or reaction any more, why would I waste God's time asking him to remove something that isn't there? Its like, say as a kid I was picking my nose in class (idiotic behavior), then some cute little girl says man you are a gross idiot! So i stop picking my nose in class, and low and behold I see nobody else is picking their nose either. She must have been right. And since we were little kids and not grown full-blown drunks, I don't have a resentment. I just learned how to be a little bit more "mature" along with my classmates.

I just wouldn't go to God today and say that little girl hurt my feelings, but she was right, and I sure got over it because she was so cute and I liked her, and we were good friends and laughed about in junior high. Then one day she comes into the rooms...how do you think I'm going to react? I'm going to be happier than a pig in poop to see her, and sad because she must have gone through hell to get here, then I'll go out of my way to be her friend and offer her the best I have of me so she has someone she can relate to and hopefully get a good impression of the program and fellowship. There isn't any reaction that is morally wrong in all of the above so there isnt any "shortcoming" for God to remove.

I guess what I'm saying is that the "resentment list" (as some of you folks call it), isn't the main event. The main event is "taking a moral inventory" so if I'm behaving bad I can see it, God can see it, and "another human being" can see it. Then I know what idiotic reaction I can ask Him to help me change. And so does everybody else and when God takes the thing and turns it around, we all get the benefit caus it happened right in front of our eyes.

This going back to childhood bygones is way too complicated for a recovering drunk like me to figure out. Hell I aint writing a book, I'm doing step 4! I'd just leave the old stuff that's fixed right where it is. You know keeping it simple means if it aint broke don't fix it.

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Postby Dallas » Tue Sep 12, 2006 9:57 pm

Step 4 helped prepare me to "Clear away the wreckage of my past."

I use Step 10, to clear away the wreckage of my present.

For Step 4... page 65 "We went back through our lives. Nothing counted
but thoroughness and honesty." Back through my life meant more to me than today or yesterday.... or even last week.

When I was freshly sober... I was so grateful just to have 24 hours sober... that I didn't believe I had any resentments towards anyone or anything! And, I told my sponsor that!

My sponsor replied to me, "Dallas... since you don't think you have any resentments... perhaps you had better start by making a list of every person you have ever known, and start there!" :lol:

It was no joke... that when I started making a list of everyone that I could remember... starting with my mom, dad, brothers, sisters, God, church, school, teachers, class mates.... heck! I had resentments with all of them! Naturally, I didn't remember everyone I had ever known... but, I sure gave it an honest try with a lot of effort! I was willing to do anything to help me get another 24 hours sober! (And... I'm still that willing).

Once I had that information it was like a great light turned on inside me. Now, I was able to see patterns that had been with me since I was a child. And, I could see that I was still living with my childish ideas and behaviors and sensitivities.

When I made a list of people (and things) that I had harmed... pulling the wings and legs off June Bugs, and the lights off of Lightening bugs didn't bother me... but, what did show up, was an experience that I had as a child that haunted me all throughout my life... until I shared it with another person, with God, with myself, and went on to make amends for it. It was a little bird that was sitting on a wire... and when I was eight years old, I shot the bird with a BB gun, for no other reason than to watch it get shot. Some may say that's stupid... but it sure created some damage inside of me that I carried with me forever. I used to drink myself to sleep to forget what I did to that little bird. It started a pathology and pattern in my life that led me to eventually hating myself, and feeling like I was the scum of the earth. Thank God, that through the 12 Steps of A.A., I don't have to feel that way today. And, I can try to be a better person by trying to be mindfull of the little creatures and critters. I've since come to believe, for me... that those little things are just as important to God and His Universe, as the people are important to Him.

I still remember the bird... and I'm still doing everything I can to make amends to birds, to clear away the record of the little bird that I shot. I don't beat myself up about it. But, there are little things that I can do to make a difference. I'm not trying to be some kind of goody-good. But, I recognize that I've still got what some may call "hyper-sensitivities." :wink: And, all those little things... add up to the big thing... which is me laying down in my bed... or kneeling beside my bed... and feeling that I have honestly gone to any lengths to make things right. And, that helps me to like me.

For years... I didn't like me. I didn't like me at all. I can still move into that mode of not liking me... in the blink of an eye... when I stop doing the little things that add up to the big things.


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Postby anniemac » Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:37 pm

garden variety wrote:So if I don't have the idiotic "behavior" or reaction any more, why would I waste God's time asking him to remove something that isn't there?

Thanks, GV, that's how I feel, but hear so much to the contrary.

Dallas, your post was beautiful. And, yes, I see great benefit in discovering the patterns of my life, especially when I am still living out those patterns.

You brought to mind a memory from my childhood that's come up more than several times through the years. I was in Jr. High, and a girl Martha sat in front of me. We were friendly, we goofed around in class, and I guess she said something funny, so I slapped her on the back, you know, that comaraderie (sp?) back-slapping thing that some folks do. But I slapped her really really hard. She looked at me funny and I recall mumbling something like I hadn't intended to slap her that hard.

What I don't remember is - why? Did I intend to do it, or was it a case of "not knowing my own strength" or something? I don't recall any resentment toward her. I still feel queasy when I think about it.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there - just babbling.

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