My earliest memory of seeing this step displayed was early Feb '07. I sat at the back of a packed Friday meeting at my homegroup, Road To Recovery. Within 5 mins of reading the steps I'd selecting which ones really applied to my case. Needless to say step 4 was definitely one of them. Regardless of my previous thoughts I had arrived at step 4 and had done 1, 2 and 3 with the guidance of my sponsor. My experiences varied during the undertaking of step 4, as I will explain. Having just done step 3 – which I thought was a very encouraging experience – I was hungry for more.
So I was ready to take step 4, started steady and had the benefits of others in my homegroup who had only just completed step 5 who were very helpful at the time, and of course my sponsor's ongoing support. I had periods where I would get stuck in, but also get locked in and not take regular breaks and be walking around constantly with "step 4 head". I'd say the Serenity Prayer and ring someone new to divert my thoughts – this really did the trick. When I saw others complete and do their 5 they said it was electric. I only had to look at them. Their eyes were like Christmas tree lights and were smiling like Cheshire cats. But I also – along the way – got caught up with comparing with others my timescales and the quantities I was doing, which I now know are not a requirement. Your step 4 is as it is.
At one stage I was quite worried about forgetting something or missing a biggie, i.e – a resentment which would result in a drink. I was approached by my current sponsor. He told me that yes, if I am consciously holding something back that is a possibility, but if I've honestly cleared mind and house of old stock, all would be well. And also he said not dwell on the amount because if the truth be known most could clear stock on two sides of A4 with the ones that really need to be shed. From this I gained relief and faith and found myself ready for the last push. Once pen had been put to paper and I had fully taken stock to the best of my knowledge, I was given 1 week to digest and reflect. That's when I really saw defects of character which had played a massive role in my actions and reaction to my past life. For someone who walked through the doors thinking I was a run-of-the-mill guy, my thoughts at this stage were that I had many flaws and I was a git! Weekly, daily, members would inquire "Have you done it yet mate?" not understanding as I do now how great it is to see someone come in and get this great release. Thanks for all the encouagement guys.
The day had arrived, the pay off for step 4 – step 5. Stock in hand, sponsor by my side as he had been throughout my inventory, on the moors on a sunny afternoon, apprehensive but more than ready to shed the weight of the past. I was asked to calmly, slowly read my stock and did so. To my relief my sponsor turned to me and said "Wasn't that bad Deaneo was it? Your just like me, alcoholic trying to say sober." I'd finally taken off this big heavy dirty overcoat. To say I was relieved was an understatement.
My sponsor then told me to go home and read and digest what I had just done, referring me to page 75 of the Big Book. I was staying at a dry house at the time with people also in early recovery and was greeted to the words of "So what was it like? how does it feel?" The only real reply I could give was "Strange". I couldn't put my finger on how I felt but there had definitely been some kind of change.
I arrived at my homegroup on that evening and walked through the doors and bang it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was buzzing. I felt like I was floating, I didn't hear much of the share that night, much like my first meeting. I couldn't hear much at all until I heard myself "My names Deaneo and I am an alcoholic." I felt connected with the group and AA and the world that night. One word: priceless.
The reflection and digestion methods of this step 4 not only made me look at who I had been, but also the man I want to be. Doing this article took me right back to a great fact-finding and honest era of my recovery and no doubt has propelled me forward.