Friday, March 13, 2009

Step Four - And The Point Of This Is?

Step Four: Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.

Those of us who have had our lives ravaged by someone else's drinking, are often very well defended emotionally. We have so many ways of deflecting, denying, and avoiding, that the road to our internal self is akin to a luxury car commercial - great swooping turns, it's always moonlight, and it's a "professional driver on a closed course."

Step Four is about setting off down that road in daylight, for a change, and with a companion - our sponsor.

We come into our first meetings with so much resistance accumulated, our minds slam shut like clapping hands, the minute any suggestion is made that we bear any responsibility for our own misery. I was fine, thankyou very much, just tell me how to make the drinker stop drinking, and I'm outta here.

I heard this nonsense about taking my own inventory with disbelief - what did that have to do with making the drinker quit?
I can take no credit for my initial learning on this step, it happened in spite of me. I was lucky enough to have a sponsor who could dodge around the end of my barricades like one of those cars at a railway crossing, plant herself in the middle of the road, and hold up a sign reading, "Realisation Ahead - Slow down! Pay attention!"

That woman offended my pride so many times, I lost count after a while. But something in me hungered for change and growth, and also, she made me laugh so hard at myself, I'd be sitting at her kitchen table clutching my stomach and barely able to talk.
I slowly learned that I could use Step 4 as leverage to open my own defenses enough to slip inside, and walk around, picking up the odd wierd-looking thing, and saying "Oh. Oh my. Well, isn't that strange. Hmm. I didn't know this was in here, that's for sure. What is that?" Having my sponsor beside me on these initial forays, kept me feeling safe, ordinary, and only human.
I learned that I wouldn't vanish in a puff of smoke if I said "I was in the wrong."

I learned that the more I discovered about my own mental workings, the easier it became for me to effect change in my life.
I learned that the more I understood myself, the more compassion and understanding I felt for all of humanity, alcoholics included.
I learned that I had reached my early thirties without ever having matured in many areas of my personality - in some areas, I was still stamping my foot and screaming "No! No! NO! It's not fair!"
And it wasn't fair, and it still isn't fair, but "fair" is a fantasy in life. Fair is for sports, and portion sizes at the dinner table; anywhere else in life, if we are insisting on "fair" before we will accept it, we will go to our deathbed resisting.

Step Four felt so strange when I started trying to practise it, and has become of one of my favourite steps over the years. (Favourite doesn't mean I love it at all times, there have been plenty of times I've cursed it with great heat and inventiveness. Favourite means I see the value, and treasure the outcome - the process, not so much some days.)
Step Four I had to take on trust, from those in my meetings who personified the change I was so desperate to achieve.

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