[Extracted from ECO NEWS - June 2018]
It’s Never Too Late for Step 4 and 5
As many of our daily reflection readings in the month of May focus on the power and positivity of doing Step 5, and due to a recent incident reminding me of the need for ongoing inventory, I reflect on the amazing results from doing a fearless and thorough look at my resentments.
When I first got sober, I did a Step 4 and 5…however, today I know it was not enough. I wrote about one resentment I had, and I didn’t look at my part in it at all. I went to a man of the clergy and did my Step 5. It was less than satisfactory, but that was all I was willing to do at the time.
Fast forward to four years later. I had moved to a new home in a nearby state to finish my schooling. I was working several part time jobs. As a single parent, my 13 yr old was giving me challenges. In the first four years of my sobriety, I had not bothered to look at any more than the one resentment. This was a recipe for disaster. Even though I was attending 3 meetings a week, I had no relief….I got very depressed and seriously considered suicide.
This was another bottom for me; it gave me the willingness to go further. I was fortunate enough to find a tough female sponsor who gave me specific directions, for which I was desperate. She walked me through Steps 1, 2 and 3 in order to prepare for a complete Step 4. I made a list of ‘people, places, things, institutions, old time phrases… anything else I could think of that irritated me. My sponsor reminded me to keep my inventory balanced…..I needed to write positive things about myself, especially when I felt overwhelmed by negativity. She phoned me during my Step 4 writing to ensure that I kept a positive side to the balance sheet. We made a deadline date for Step 5, which I did with her. It was a lifesaving exercise.
I recently attended the 68th Annual General Service Conference from April 21-27, 2018. Your 7th tradition contributions to the General Service Office made it possible for me to attend and I thank you for this amazing opportunity. During the week there, an old resentment resurfaced. This resulted in some inappropriate behavior on my part. This showed me again that I needed to dig a little deeper into some old thought patterns…via Steps 4 and 5.
Although I did not take the time to write a Step 4 on this matter in New York, I knew that I could meet with a friend to help me recognize “causes and conditions,” and what feelings triggered the situation. I made an amends to the person I had spoken to, before the conference ended.
So three days after the conference, I met with my friend to get rid of this old grudge. This resentment caused me to go back to some early childhood beliefs about myself which are less than helpful. My friend walked me through a thorough and fearless moral inventory of the situation and all my feelings. That fact finding, fact facing activity allowed me to see my part and how I can recognize the triggers and change my perspective on them. I cried, I laughed and felt the deep relief that only these steps can bring to us. I am ever-so grateful for Bill & Bob’s wisdom….somehow they knew that resentments and anger are the “dubious luxuries of normal men, but ones we alcoholics cannot afford”.
So I’m here to tell you…..there is no graduation in AA. There is a never-ending wealth of self-knowledge and learning at our fingertips, whenever we are willing to pick up the kit of spiritual tools, “take the bit in our teeth” and go to it. Regardless of where we are in the chronology of our sobriety….32 years or 32 days, it does not matter. It’s never too late to do a Step 4 and 5 on an issue. I am so grateful to you the fellowship, our book of Alcoholics Anonymous and to the program that continues to teach me that drinking – or not drinking – is only the tip of the iceberg. Thank you all for my sobriety.
Becky P, Area 78 Delegate