RG's story in regards to 12 step recovery.
February 20, 2001, revisions 11/28/01 unfinished and incomplete.
1974 was year of my first AA meeting. A major job advancement during my AA
"pink cloud" at 7 months sober became a mistake. Strong resentments about a
alcoholic supervisor above and a malingering, arrogant worker under my supervision developed into a slip and a two year breakdown on sick leave. Poor life skills, underlying causes and other aspects of untreated alcoholism booze had created these work problems plus crisis at home.
Back to AA in 1981, I obsessed on AA service and a program with three steps
- one, twelve and thirteen! Eighteen months sober found me at
emotional/spiritual/mental bottom with the worse feelings possible, as I now
realize. What was wrong? I was so busy helping AA ! In a flash of honesty,
I cried to an old timer for help. Not my social type, no common activities, I observed that he is well respected for his AA program and long sobriety.
During our first one on one interview, he explained difference between fellowship and program. I did not know that 3 step meetings each week only acquainted me with the steps. Actual change then required one on one guidance for hands on pen and notebook from a step sponsor. Most of the actual work would be done alone. Regular reviews by my sponsor plus phone calls when in doubt helped the process along smoothly.
Eight years in and out of AA, I had talked about insanity, service and attempts
at religion. Outside the halls, life only worsened. "The fact was I had not
cleaned house so the Grace of God could enter," (12&12 step2). My new
sponsor said I was now acting a step 3 decision by talking to a power
greater than me. For now, it was he. Permanence with steps 1,
2 and 3 called for written 4th step work. When should I start?
He replied, "When do you want to get better?"
About 1980, Big Book Step Study meetings had started on Cape Cod. Today, spinoffs of this group are scattered about Eastern Anerica. Their website is at http://www.bigbookstepstudy.com.
A BBSS member spoke at length at a 1982 open AA speaker meeting about starting each day with page 86
directions, "On awakening..to end of chapter". I began opening each day with Big Book in hand to follow that lifesaving checklist of clearcut directions for starting each day at a time.
I began attending BBSS meetings. I learned that the basic
directions are in the Big Book. The forward of the 12&12 describes the
12&12 message as "broadening and deepening of the steps as first written in
the earlier work." Over 10 or so years thereafter, I came to regard the 12&12 as inspired by AA's who experienced loose ends and a few other life saving needs that escaped the original work.
Vitally important, however, is to know that the 12&12 does not repeat vital and necesary basics from the Big Book. Throughout my step procedure web pages, I try to credit every source.
After many hours with professionals, and college courses in Psychology, I
have yet to find anything more effective the Big Book resentment format to clarify a
disliked situation. An episode is described and written in short definite phrases.
per page BB65.
Clarity created by the previous directions already provides some relief about the
real or fancied perpetrator. We can then examine our part.
"Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened?" BBp67.
During fifteen years passing on the 4th step, short written answers may fill
an entire page. Examples details about "our side" are on my web site.
The fear part of the 4th step begins at the bottom of p67. Armed with
housecleaning described previously, the p68 Fear Prayer lives up to the
emphatic statement after it, "At once we commence to outgrow fear."
We plug each of the fears written earlier under "frightened" into the Fear
Prayer: "God (or other choice) please remove my fear (insert specific fear
one at a
time) and direct my attention to what you would have me be."
The relations part, P68, "Now about sex", has questions about each episode
that diverted energy and time to romantic obsessions and actions.
The word "Thorough" can be applied several ways to step 4. Now, 2001, an accurate concept of that word is more important than ever, according to my experience. Hazelden's step 5 guide offers the clearest definition I have discovered for thorough, as applied to a succesful inventory.
"Thoroughness, as necessary as it is, should not be mistaken for scrupulosity. Scrupulosity, is another form of perfectionism - mistakenly thinking that everey little detail of everything that has ever happened must be achnowledged."
Tragidies have overcome some friends who boasted of thousands of different resentments being described. Baffling for years, I gradually discovered that few if any of these episodes was completely "analyzed" (3rdEd.BBp70). Unlearned and unwritten was an answer to the Big Book question, "What should we have done instead?" The 12&12 steps 4 and 5 discusses taking adviceand learning.
In other words about this crucial life and death detail, much more is needed than a statement of the event and barebones listing of character defects. "What should we have done instead?", inspired for me a return to college to learn logic, communication skills and other courses to "grow in effectiveness." (BBp84).
While helping others work on steps 4 and 5, we have all studied and improved skills for better sober living.
I help 4th stepers process today's grudges through the entire step 4
resentment process and the Fear Prayer. The sooner that he or she can use the BB
step 4 method to treat today's traumas, hope and sobriety gain
strength, from my experience. Gradually, "We went back through our lives."
This long share touched on a few basics and commonly overlooked components
of AA's method for step 4 as outlined in the Big Book and expanded in the
12&12. I won't discuss more of the important details here. These are on my
website linked at the end. Please email questions and comments that may be
" Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual
progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen. When we look back,
we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God's
hands were better than anything we could have planned. Follow the dictates
of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world,
no matter what your present circumstances!
With love trying to be in the solution, RogerG February 2001