Step Four & Spontaneous Writing

Half Measures
August 30, 2016
Alcoholics Anonymous: A physician looks at the group
September 14, 2016

Immersion in the AA fellowship via daily meetings, telephone/clubhouse conversations, etc., kept my persistent obsession to drink at bay for my first six months of sobriety—albeit I was generally happy, I remained plagued by fear of drink. I had been working the steps off the clubhouse wall which I have come to believe is infinitely less than a half measure. This perilous condition resulted in my standing in a Hollywood bar with “gin & tonic” on my lips—I was that close to drinking!

Straightaway I found a new sponsor, Carl, who had me praying the Third Step Prayer during the first visit; he then started me writing Step Four information at once (p. 64). Carl informed me that I was not capable of writing honest information because my mind was a liar—after all did it not almost allow me to order a drink just two short weeks previous? He provided me with four sheets of paper with headings of Resentment, Fear, Guilt and Harms to others. I was to write spontaneously without thinking. I was to ask God to do the writing for me. I was to pray this mantra over and over: “God please help me—I am doing my inventory!” “God please help me—I am doing my inventory!

This mantra repetition lasted for what seemed a long time, but all at once it was as though a dam had collapsed spilling more truth onto that paperwork in ten minutes than weeks or months would have been derived from my dishonest and stubborn alcoholic mind. Once written, I couldn’t “forget” or “ignore” what God had written. The next Saturday I gleefully returned to my sponsor with an honest list of grosser handicaps.

Carl pointed out, by following the clear-cut Step Four directions of the Big Book, many other of my character defects, but, more importantly, how to face and be rid of resentments (p. 67) and the same with irrational fear (p. 68). I also learned how selfish and dishonest I had been throughout my drunken life from the other Fourth Step direction pages.

I have become a great fan of spontaneous writing. I notice Bill W.—perhaps unwittingly—used this method when he changed the then Six Step program into Twelve Steps in thirty minutes (read page 198, Pass It On).

By Bob S., Richmond, IN

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.