(week 159) 15 January 2015 12-step Big Book All Addictions Workshop
AA Big Book page 64.
The whole purpose of doing this fourth step is to have a spiritual experience with the God of your understanding. If you don’t invite God into this process then when you get to the 12th step you will not have had a spiritual experience and this will be just another empty attempt that you tried to do yourself to get well. If you don’t bring God into this experience then you are stuck (as written on page 60) in a) and b) and are not in c) – seeking a partnership with God.
If you are not doing it with God you will probably get so frustrated or so freaked out by answering the questions that show you your selfishness and your self-centredness, dishonesty and how your life is lived by fear that you will stop doing it. That is what Stephanie has experienced as a Big Book sponsor: without a Higher Power the fruit of your labour is sour and you either leave in frustration or you leave because you don’t want to come out of denial.
Therefore we started upon a personal inventory. This was step four. A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke.
Write: human being above business.
At the top of every page of your step four write:
This is a fact finding and a face facing process
We stay in the facts and out of the judgment, out of the drama. We want the facts. Write the drama on the back as you need to feel the feelings before you can deal with them. Then read it over with your higher power and ask: Tell me what the facts are. Doing a turnaround on a feeling will mean you are going to try to defend yourself and get into more denial. Or alternatively try to demonize the other person so you come out right while they come out bad. Without the facts your turnaround is not going to tell you the whole truth.
Circle: It is an effort to discover the truth.
The facts are truthful. Share what you have written on your feelings with a sponsor in your step one fellowship, your friends in Big Book. You need to deal with the feelings so can tease out what the truth is. The truth is facts about the stock in trade.
One object is to disclose damaged and unsaleable goods.
The truth will show you your damaged and unsaleable actions and the other person’s actions. To get rid of them promptly and without regret or moralizing. The purpose of writing the facts is so that you can discover the truth and disclose how you have either made yourself out as a hero and the other person is the bad guy or you made them the hero and you the bad guy or somewhere in between. You are new at this so have patience with yourself.
With each new person: no matter how often you have previously written about them, write out your feelings about the resentment on the back to give you a much better chance of really getting to the facts.
To get rid of them promptly without regret.
If you can write your feelings and see that it really affected you and you don’t want it to, you will want to get to the facts and learn the truth. And to realize whenever there are two people who don’t agree there is blame on both sides .You want to see where you are responsible for your self-seeking, dishonesty, selfishness. That is your whole goal – and it is very painful. You have a higher power, you have a buddy, you have friends. You share and have it witnessed. Then you take the pain to your higher power and Quiet Time. Don’t try to get rid of it at an open meeting or with your buddy. Know that the only way you can walk through this is going to God.
If the human being is to be successful you cannot fool yourself about values. Black and white thinking hurts you. Herbert Spencer said: ignorance is prejudice prior to investigation. You are doing the investigating but if with an attitude of: I am right; they are wrong, you will end up rubber stamping your own denial. Don’t be ignorant or prejudiced.
Set Aside Prayer
This is one of the most important prayers for the rest of our lives.
We own our feelings and we deserve them, but they will lie to us. Stephanie has seen some of the lies that set her up to be a failure in her relationships. We need to really let go of the prejudice of ‘I know’ and I say: ‘God I don’t know.’ That’s the whole purpose of the Set Aside Prayer: ‘I don’t know. Please God can you show me.’
Once we say ‘I’ve already done the fourth step’, we close a door. Ignorance is prejudice prior to investigation. Stephanie finds every time she does the fourth step something else comes up. We are blinded by our own denial and we don’t even know we are lying. That is why it is so important to put aside what you have already done and go to the work like you are absolutely brand new, that you never before seen the resentments. Remember resentment means re-feel. Something that happened to you fifteen years ago which you wrote about five years ago, means you have now had five years of growing and maturing, so it is guaranteed that you will look at it differently – that is the key.
We took stock honestly.
If you are in the feelings it may be sincere but it cannot be honest. Have to be in the facts to be honest.
The flaws in our make-up that caused our failure.
We are not trying to search out the flaws in others. I am powerless over my flaws and the flaws of others.
…which caused our failure.
Stephanie says: “I really was a failure at relationships. I wanted you to say I was so caring, so loving. The fact was I did everything to get people’s attention. When they didn’t love and respect me I chopped them off at the hip. I was barely civil. I had a lot of failures. Thank God I put them all down and made amends to everyone.” Being convinced…
There is black and white in this process. We have to be convinced that human powers cannot relieve us of our selfishness, self-centredness, dishonesty and fear. We have to be convinced that we have to search out the flaws in our make-up. but we not soul searching on our own will. We are seeking our Higher Power in Quiet Time. We don’t have to say: I am just a failure at everything. God doesn’t make junk. He made a beautiful human being. The problem was we turned away and stopped asking God for help. Need to see how we messed up and how with God’s help we can make it right, but we cannot make anything right and make amends until we are willing to see how we messed up.
This fourth step needs to be truthful and honest. If you do five people you will see a pattern in your life.
b) That probably no human power could have relieved us of our alcoholism and c) that God could and would if He were sought. Came to believe that a power greater than us could restore us to sanity.
Doing the same thing over and over is insane, but our feelings keep telling us the other person is hurting us, that it’s their fault. We have a pattern whereby we set people up so that things turn out badly.
Being convinced that self manifested in various ways was what had defeated us.
That is what you have to be convinced of. With God we can look at the defeat without blame and judgment. Look at our own behavior not that of the other person. If we don’t have a relationship with a Higher Power we cannot do this.
This is the key, we consider its common manifestations.
I doesn’t say: ‘we considered our feelings around this’.
And here we stepped on the toes of others and they retaliated.
That is why you have them listed under resentments. We started the ball rolling by a look, a word, an attitude, we somehow some way. All except for rape, armed robbery and being molested where we did nothing. As a child you were a victim and nobody can ever say it was your fault. But that happened many years ago, and what you are doing today is re-living being a victim. You now have a choice. Are you going to keep saying to yourself: I am a victim, they did this to me? They victimized you once and now they are still victimizing you, but with your participation.
Forgiveness is the answer and it takes a long, long time to forgive someone who robbed you of your innocence. In Al-Anon they say to put a bandage around the person’s head that says ‘sick’ and give them to God to deal with. If you re-victimize yourself then because that is your script, eventually everyone will victimize you. Feeling sorry for ourselves we set ourselves up to be victimized over and over again.
Remember we are considering our common manifestations, not theirs. People do awful things to other people. Are you going to move out of the feelings of being a victim of other people’s terrible behavior or are you going to stay being a victim? Stephanie has seen many people leave this work because they want to be a victim and don’t want to look at how they are now victimizing themselves.
Re. resentments from childhood.
Remember how you felt as a child about the person and write that down.
You have got to know how you felt as a child. And you have to do a turnaround on whether there is still any lingering feelings about that. Do you still have feelings of fear that, for example, your brother will go back to the way he was when you were growing up? If you are writing about something which happened in childhood write out on the back your feelings about it. You are looking at it how you responded as a kid since only in that way can you see the facts. Need to discover if there is any residue of that resentment in your relationship now.
Resentments and Feelings:
Stephanie encourages us to write about our feelings on the back of the page and do this before we write how the resentment affects us.
Writing your fourth step is your soul work. Take what Stephanie says, listen and re-listen to it on the callback or the website and put it into your writing.
If you are really stuck, write out your resentment and send it to Stephanie. Similarly, if you have a question on the format and need a comment. For example as someone already asked about a resentment from their childhood. I would ask: How did you react as a child? In what way is this reaction impacting on your relationship and expectations with that person today?
Quiet Time gave Stephanie, ‘a powerful Higher Power that I am very intimate with. ‘
Are you skipping your Quiet Time or rushing through it? Are you putting your heart and soul into it or is it just another rote exercise and if so, how are you really going to search out your resentments? You will be too scared at the fear of seeing yourself.
We have been together for over three years which is three years of a relationship with God in your Quiet Time. You are going to trust God to give you deeper insights, so go to God, with your resentments. It doesn’t matter if they have dogged you for seventy years, you are not the same person, so keep bringing them so you don’t have the victim mentality.
Stephanie says: ‘I gave you the example of the victim mentality believing I was not smart. I had four degrees yet I never earned over $30,000 a year. I victimized myself with the lie: I am stupid. I cannot go to graduate school. I cannot apply for that teaching position because I am not smart enough.’
Keep doing the work. Fact-finding means getting out of the feelings of being a victim and into the facts so you can see your own victimization of yourself.