The Fourth and the Tenth (Steps)

This is on my mind.  I have a friend who, with a few years sober, keeps doing fourth and mini- fourth steps.  She said that none of her sponsors ever talked to her about steps 10, 11 and/or 12.  Another woman I know has repeatedly slipped over several years, and has had two sponsors, and though the sponsors talked to her about a fourth step …… well, the way she put it is that when she asked them what she’s doing wrong, they couldn’t tell her.  Yet her fourth step remains a huge mountain her mind that she has yet to climb.

I was listening to a “Clancy” CD on the way home from work and he said that repeated and constant fourth steps are a socially acceptable way to stay completely self-absorbed.  He also said, as I guess we see every day, that many many people who climb the first three steps fail to do a fourth step and beyond.

As for my personal experience, I’ve done three formal fourth steps over 27 years of sobriety.  This has worked for me.  I anticipate that if I live long enough I will do another many years hence.  I wouldn’t call these constant or repeated.

My understanding of the tenth step is that there are two distinct and important parts of it.  Continued to take personal inventory is one part, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it is another part.  Often the parts go together, but not always.

It was a great relief and revelation to me to promptly admit when I’m wrong and I know that, compared to the way I was before the program, it has saved personal relationships, especially at work.  It was a freeing proposition when I first employed it.

But the continued inventory is almost more important.  If, for example, I am jealous, this is a character defect and I want to list it on my daily inventory.  If I fumed and stewed and made myself miserable with my jealousy, I don’t think I necessarily have to apologize to anyone, depending on what I did that day, or failed to do.  But for the sake of my argument say I had no responsibilities that day, and rather than enjoying the free time, I made myself miserable feeling jealous.  No harm done to anyone but me.

But say in my jealousy I snooped somewhere I shouldn’t.  Then I might owe an apology and and amend (a change).  Now I could wonder if the person I snooped on is better off not knowing I did that but that is beside my point.

I try to look out for excess negative emotion and in a daily (or more frequent) inventory think of which character defect is at play resulting in my excess negative emotion.  If the problem is bad enough or frequent enough I also try to think about how to do away with the defect, how to ask God to remove it and be able to let it go.  I don’t want to do the same thing over and over again, expecting and getting the same result.  All that, to me, is tenth step, not fourth.

Now all that confused me but I think I’ll go with it and move on to something simpler . . .


One thought on “The Fourth and the Tenth (Steps)

  1. I will have 4 years on March 1. Have done 1 fourth step that has help me. I just finish doing all of the steps with a step sponser. When moved to Tokyo Japan and I am loss. No english meeting that has helped me. I’ve been reading your blog and it has help me to stay on a AA path. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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