In recovery—from any dysfunction that brings me to seek help—do I notice what I have in common with others? What is the thread that runs through all the many issues—substance abuse, codependency, workaholism, gambling, acting out one way or several? What motivates me, no matter what I am trying to get or trying to escape? I may be angry. I may be plagued by unmet desires. But under all of these confusing emotional tugs, there is one powerful current: I am not safe and content, here and now. I am habitually fearful, rarely at ease. This is the condition I seek to fix, whether I can name it or not. Dis-ease underlays everything else I can point to, in terms of behaviors or confused ideas.
Step Four is the part of this healing process, working the Steps, where I nibble at the layers of my past experiences. I am in search of kernels of distrust that have taken root, grown into thickets of thorny pain, created hedges that block me from seeing what may be possible. My habitual outlook may be framed by my fears. Even legitimate threats, things that I realistically must face, may become so distorted and magnified by my garden of fears that I simply cannot see a way to break through and get free. I feel I am too tiny and weak. That’s why, in Step Four, I just nibble.
When I admitted I was powerless, in Step One, I admitted to being trapped. My inner child-self was, indeed, a vulnerable little child in the grip of adverse experiences I could not avoid or control. This authentic part of myself still remains true. Human beings are weak and vulnerable, especially when they are alone without reliable resources they can draw upon. I do not outgrow this. That’s why Steps Two and Three come before I am asked to dig into causes and conditions that affect me today.
What I have in the Steps is a structure that understands what it takes to grow into the resourceful, capable whole person I can be, a structure I can trust to reparent myself by showing me how to tune in to the source of unity I can and do share, a Power Available to Me I can tap by whatever name I may call it, to restore me to clarity, to inner peace, to the sanity that can and will see me through every challenge I face. This is the message, the hope I try to live and to carry, in my meetings and fellowships.