From the April 2003 magazine.

A Curmudgeoness Looks Back

There was a time when Steps were suggestions designed to set you free --Step Four - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Yesterday, one of our AA meetings was led by a woman who'd been in and out of other twelve-step programs for fifteen years and sober two months in AA. She was concerned about taking the Fourth Step. She had been told by her sponsor that it was time to do it, but she was anxious that it would be a great struggle and painful. She wanted to know how others had managed to take their searching moral inventories.

The responses began. Several people said they sat down with a sponsor, who helped them through their list, even requesting revisions and so forth. Then someone said there was a new workbook out for doing a Fourth Step. One member suggested a Fourth-Step workshop held at our local central office. Another commented that the newcomer should get right down to doing an inventory and Step Five, so she could get on with changing, with the help of Steps Six and Seven. The Steps were in order for a reason, she maintained; they should be done in order. Almost all who shared their experience described anxiety at beginning the inventory and initial disappointment at the result. Two members even declared that their first stab at it took them back to drinking. These comments resurrected some uncomfortable observations that I have made at other meetings. I thought, How organized AA has become! I particularly wondered why sponsorship had become so rigid and why AA had become so inflexible here.

-- June L.

El Granada, California

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