Step 4 is turning out to be a real dick

Last night I went to a meeting and wriggled in my seat every time someone swore the only way to stay sober is by attending meetings or getting down on bended knees every morning and night to thank God. The only time I felt engaged was talking to someone with four months who shared that his life feels so bad right now he thinks it might actually feel easier if he drinks. I told him I vividly remember how hard four months felt, though for me it was more like five months when the novelty of sobriety wore off and the feelings came back. I told him it absolutely gets better, though of course I don’t know that. I do know drinking wouldn’t make life easier in the long run. He knows this, but I told him because he wanted to hear it. That’s why we go to meetings.

A familiar-looking woman in fleece-lined mules stood with us and nodded in agreement and told him to keep working the steps because they would provide him peace. I thought “time might give you the same peace so long as you don’t drink” but I did not say this. Afterwards, I walked out to the parking lot with this woman and the way she asked “and how are you doing?” made me feel like she wanted to know. I said “oh ok. I’m not really feeling meetings right now and I’ve sort of stalled at step 4.” She didn’t say anything at first and then simply offered “you know, it’s called a 12 step program for a reason.” Touché, familiar-looking woman in seasonally inappropriate footwear.

Last night I came home feeling out of sorts and ill at ease with both meetings and my decision to scale back. Because here’s the source of my resentment: I never signed up for a lifetime commitment to attend meetings when I decided to get sober. My sponsor told me that she had started going to meetings because she wanted to get a handle on drinking like a normal person. I started going to meetings because I wanted to get a handle on not drinking. It never occurred to me that I was supposed to keep coming back until I die. The root of this resentment is that I fear the warnings are right: that if I stop going to meetings, I will drink again.

Despite or in spite of this conflict, I woke up this morning and did some work on Step 4. I started it about a month ago and wrote quite a bit in an email (to myself) that I inadvertently wound up deleting. I’m not upset by this because I never intended to keep it around. One of my character defects is arrogance because I am quite certain I’m able to see the role I play in every resentment I hold. It takes almost no time to identify that the reason my grandmother’s negativity and lack of filter bothers me is because I am overly sensitive and underly caring. And underly is so a word. Stubborness and inappropriate use of humor as deflection are two more character defects. If deflection is not a word, I don’t want to know because avoidance is another.

I wrote a bunch of stuff out this morning and I’ll keep working on it until I feel finished or when I find myself listing resentments towards my first grade teacher, whose only slight I can remember was telling the class she was 100 years old, which I totally believed because she had grey hair and granny glasses. I hope I’ll know when to stop. Actually, I kind of feel done now, but I’ll at least get through what the packet suggests I do.

I don’t think I’m going to do a Step 5 because that would mean confessing all my sins and that feels like a potentially dangerous form of humiliation designed to break me down and anyway, I’m hoping I’ve told enough people a handful of my wrongs that it might collectively count as a Step 5.

Trying not to get too far ahead. Baby steps. I’ll take that step when I come to it or I won’t take it. I’m not there right now so there’s no use worrying about it.

10 thoughts on “Step 4 is turning out to be a real dick

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  1. “Time takes time dear” – yes I wanted to smash the teeth in of the lady that regularly used to say that to me as she smiled sweetly about it… But she was / is right. Looking back I was very lucky – this lady had no car and her regular lift provider had slipped spectacularly off the wagon after many years sober – he has had a long and rocky road back from losing everything inside a year of starting again… So I started giving her lifts to meetings as she lived not far from me. After less than a year she suddenly passed away due to a sudden kidney infection. However our chats in the car to and from meetings were some of the most instructional to me – no posturing or ego of the meetings from some I thought I should be like but honest down to earth advice and guidance from someone who just tried to get through the programme, soon learnt it was the art of living with emotions and other people that was the real issue and was frankly one of the greatest teachers I could possibly have asked for

    Ok – Furtheron’s musings on the above.

    1. Step 4 – I tried several different stabs at it. Progress not perfection, do one, talk to someone about it. Do another, do another… there is no set way… I stalled on it and struggled, many do. I also had the I can see my fault in this, to the point I had only one resentment – against me! for some time. Take stock of you good qualities too, look where these have helped you and especially others (there is an example already above with the newcomer) that helped me come back to the balance in that review
    2. What’s this falling to your knees shit! Where is that in the “suggested” recovery of AA? Sorry I get angry with stuff people assume is in their cos their sponsor says it is and it actually isn’t. I forget but I think it is Jews that actually kneeling before God for them is actually blasphemous – or something like that… probably not Jews – whatever. The point is it is the God of our Understanding – I do not kneel to pray. It has no place in my philosophy on recovery – it needn’t in yours – nor should anything else. (Apologies if that offends people. I don’t mean to I’m purely giving my experience, I’ve never done it have no intention of doing so, I’m sober nearly 8 years and happy with how I work my programme).
    3. Step 5 and meetings for live… negative forward projection. You don’t need to worry about the stuff tomorrow or next week, let alone next year or 40 years from now. I go to meetings regularly am I signed up to go for the rest of my life? not explicitly, I will go to a meeting tonight it is my regular Wed night meeting and I like going there so I will go… will I go next week… to be determined next week. Keep it simple, live in the day… all those phrases drive you nuts in early days I know but now they are sometimes more relevant to me to ensure I stay on a path that has so far worked and I don’t start tripping off somewhere untried, untested and possibly dangerous.

    Final thought – 14th May 2004 – my last drink. I was desperate it was my last drink – or at least the last one like that. Soon I realized I had to not drink – ok then did I have any vision 8 years on I’d still be at AA meetings and where I am now in recovery… absolutely not. Where will I be in 8 years? No idea… 8 Months or 8 days – well that is about the longest I can predict for you with any hope of certainty

    This week is a continual reminder of page 164 of the big book… “…Our book is meant to be suggestive only…. 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.”

    Sorry way too long a comment apologies


    1. Time takes time is one of my favorites because I know it’s true but I forget it until I hear it again. And it’s really comforting.

      I’ve no idea how to live in the day, but guessing the times takes time is part of that.

      Will give page 164 a look…thanks yet again.


  2. Ahahahaha! I love the title! Inappropriate humor is a character defect? Oy vey! My life is over!

    Great post. I can completely relate. I stopped working on step 4 for a looong time. Starting it up again and it is very tough.



  3. I think the reason why people say you’ll drink again if you stop going to AA is because most people who quit don’t replace AA with any other kind of recovery program/plan. I didn’t embrace AA as part of my recovery plan but I’m very conscious of not being a “sober drunk”. Meaningful sobriety takes work, whether you go to AA or not.


  4. I’m struggling with the same issues you are. One of these wise and wonderful bloggers said to me once – you go to AA to learn how to live, not to make it your life – or something like that. It helped for awhile but I still am not sold on the concept. I’ve stepped away. Whether it’s for now or forever I don’t know.

    What I do know is that I am loving my life of sobriety and I do thank God everyday for the power to stay sober.

    I do not hit my knees to pray (even though I was raised Catholic and we kneel for EVERYTHING) and I haven’t been to church in years. But I talk to God every morning in the shower and sometimes he talks back. So I guess that means my shower is my church and that I go to church naked! Ewww.

    Anyway – don’t worry about what you’ll do tomorrow or next year or for the rest of your life. Just do what it feels like you should do today.



    1. My church is usually my car from the time I drop my kid off at daycare until I arrive at work. I do have clothes on. It works for me.

      I like what your blogger friend said. And I love what you said. Namaste, indeed.


    1. I have but I haven’t looked into it yet b/c AA really worked for me in the beginning and I didn’t want to crowd my head with a bunch of conflicting ideas, if that makes sense. Different things work for different people, possibly at different times of their lives (wait, what?). I just read the first couple posts on your blog and I look forward to following your progress. It’s a big step you’re taking and I’ve been there. There is a great support network of bloggers on here. Oh, and life doesn’t suck without alcohol. It’s actually much, much better. I promise 😉


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