The 4th Step- The Huge Hairy Deal With Fangs

Here’s another WTF? Moment

For those you who don’t know, 11 years before I became fat, gimpy and oh-so artsy fartsy, I was a chubby, alcoholic, pot smoking, speed freaked fag hag. Okay.. so maybe not a REAL fag hag.. just a wannabe, but I digress.

The point is at 23 years old (I will be 43 this year), I was rendered sober and my life became one with the cult of Bill W. Now before someone who is a member of a 12 Step program reads this and gets all huffy and takes my inventory in the comments box, let me say those 12 Steps and the people who put up with and supported my annoying, needy, grumpy, crazy ass in those first years, saved what was then my pathetic excuse for a life.

I think Twelve Step programs are all terrific tools and peer support for people who WANT it because the shit only works if you want it. If you just need it, it doesn’t work, successfully. Far too many times I’ve seen people who need but don’t want what a Twelve Step program offers end up back out on the street paying for a rock of crack with a blow job and their car.

Keep reading.  There’s a point. Honest.

This year, Goddess willing and if the creek doesn’t rise, I’ll have 20 years of sobriety in July. I wanted what CA and AA had to offer me. And before you write to congratulate me on a job well done, let me say it’s a lot harder to be sober for 20 days or 20 months than it is to be sober for 20 years. By now, sobriety is a way of life for me. If I’m stressed out I’m far more likely to head to the grocery store than the liquor store or to the hood to score. That’s the real truth of it.

There’s been some shit happen to me in these 20 years that had I known what I was getting into in the beginning, I would’ve just said, “Hand me a cocktail and a line because this is bullshit.” However, the powers that be in their infinite wisdom kept me stupid and still, after all these years, only allow me to glean their wisdom sporadically.

Really.  I’m getting to the point.

Now one of these things I had to do to get sober and stay sober was to do a “Fourth Step”- a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of myself. It’s probably the most dreaded step next to the 9th Step which is making amends to the people we fucked over (if they are still talking
to you), including yourself. Anyway, I made a big drama about doing a 4th Step and so by the time, I actually sat down to do it it was actually a bit anti-climactic. I had made it into this huge, hairy fucking deal with fangs and it wasn’t. It would’ve taken less than a week to do, if I hadn’t been such a damn drama queen about getting it done.

Okay so here it is. The point of this entry.

One of the dearest people to me in the world has almost got her first year of sobriety. I am very proud of her. She has struggled for 5 years that I know of with addiction and now, she has nearly a year of continuous sobriety. She is now “getting ready” to do her 4th step. In our last conversation about it, I told her it wasn’t going to be the huge thing she was envisioning it to be.

So she sends me this e-mail a few days ago. It has this attachment of a template – A TEMPLATE- for a 4th Step. I think to myself, that’s a little odd but okay it might help. Then I click and open it up. It’s FOURTEEN FUCKING PAGES LONG and includes ONE-HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT soul searching questions. So much for my reassurances it wouldn’t be a big, hairy deal.

WTF? Are they trying to undo 10 months of clean time or WHAT?

My first thought was, “Holy shit!”

The second: “Damn! I’m glad that wasn’t floating around when I got sober”.

My 4th Step consisted of FIVE lists that I compiled. The Shit That Pissed Me Off (Resentments), The Scary Shit Hiding in the Dark (Fears), The Fucked Up Shit I Did to Other People (Harm to Others) and the Sex Shit I Was Ashamed Of (Sexual Conduct). My orders were to write everything I could remember, beginning as far back as I could, as honestly as I could. My sponsor assured me that anything I was likely to forget would rear it’s ugly head in due time and she was true to her word. There was no need to make any more ICKY than it already was.

Honestly, is this 138 question, 14 page inventory really necessary? It seems like OVERKILL to me. Years of sobriety and time spent among the Twelve Steppers tells me it is. The idea behind sobriety is to clean up the wreckage of your presence, live a good life, laugh, love some people along the way and keep things and life as fucking simple as you can.

I did my itty bitty 4th Step inventory and have been able to successfully avoid bending my elbow or seeking out the nearest ganja wholesaler, in spite of the some the monumental dumbass shit I did AFTER I got sober.

But leave it booze hounds and dope fiends to make something simple and relatively easy into SOMETHING NO ONE WOULD EVER WANT TO FUCKING DO with or without drugs and alcohol. I looked at some of the questions after I got over my initial shock and suddenly had to fight the compulsion to head to the grocery store for a bag of French Vanilla Milano cookies and a quart of chocolate milk to wash them down. Damn.

I wish I could tell my friend, “Fuck that.  Don’t do it. Go here and do it this way. It will work just as well,” and I guess I can. But I am also attempting to go with the flow and support what her sponsor believes she should do. She’s only doing what her sponsor told her to do. When you are helping someone pull their shit together, having someone in the background questioning everything you do is really a pisser. I know because it’s happened to me on more than one occasion. And when it
comes down to it, if my friend’s sponsor did then I guess my friend can too. I’m just glad it ain’t fucking me that has to do it.

Think I should send her a sympathy or a condolence card?