“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
One of the biggest hurdles of beginning recovery is learning how to fully “show up.” This means when you’re with others (or even by yourself) you are authentically present in mind, body and spirit. One of sex addiction and porn addiction's favorite companions is denial. For years (maybe longer) the addict survived by pretending that the addiction is harmless or normal. They told themselves that no one knew and that they had it under control. This is why every twelve step meeting begins with, “Hello. My name is __________ and I’m a _____aholic.” It’s not because that’s the password to the club. It’s not because twelve step programs want to label people.
It’s because the best way to start recovery and continue recovery is to fully show up.
And the first part of showing up is admitting you have an addiction and that you need help. The second and third steps are about helping the addict to see that there is something greater in the universe and that they can trust in it to help them find sanity. This helps open up the world beyond the six feet of personal space that surrounds a person. But, in the Fourth Step, now that a person is on the path to sanity, they are asked to take a “sober” look at themselves.
Addiction is, at its nature, and intimacy disorder.
That means, that the addict is unable to form healthy emotional bonds with others. It also means that the addict is out of touch with their own emotions. The addict (in truth, most of us) is afraid to engage their emotions. So, they look to numb them. Thus, they reach for the drug. The Fourth Step is all about ceasing to run from what’s inside, facing it, and taking stock of it.
Facing the hard truth about oneself is the beginning of change. After all, how can a person hope to change their life if they never truly see their authentic self?
“By now the newcomer has probably arrive at the following conclusions: that his character defects, representing instincts gone astray, have been the primary cause of his drinking and his failure at life; that unless he is now willing to work hard at the elimination of the worst of these defects, both sobriety and peace of mind will still elude him; that all the faulty foundation of his life will have to be torn out and built anew on bedrock.” (Twelve and Twelve, p. 50)
The Fourth Step is simply writing about who you are. The defects of character that the addict (and non-addict) carry in their character did not come about in a vacuum. So, a good place to start is to write about any person or incident that they feel bad about. Describe the feeling. Then, ask what part you played in it. What did you do wrong or where was your attitude wrong?
Does this sound like the scariest thing a person can possibly do? That’s because it’s scary! But don’t worry. No one has ever taken perfect Step Four. In fact, most people do it again as a part of later steps. Or, every time they work their Twelve Steps from beginning to end, they add things or develop them further.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “nothing can be managed that is not first measured?” The Fourth Step is the a type of measurement of the self. All of the defects and wrong attitudes and actions have to get out. So, you write them down. This way, you can see them face to face. It’s tougher to run from something that has been made manifest in the real world.
As scary as doing this is, remember: you are not alone. You will be sharing this with your sponsor. Your sponsor is a person who has also walked the road of recovery and sobriety. They’ve fought the fought. They’ve struggled against their own defects. And, above all else, they care about you.
Can something be healed and forgiven if it is never spoken about? Nope.