Share Your Fourth Step Inventory
An Alanon Sponsor will Help!
Once you have taken the Alanon Fourth Step, which asked you to make a fearless and detailed personal inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, the Alanon Fifth Step asks you to closely examine the results of your inventory. You must carefully consider it yourself, as well as share it with God and one other person. Typically, that one other person is your Alanon sponsor, a compassionate person who you have asked to lead your through the Alanon Twelve Steps. For many people in Alanon, this can be a terrifying experience. Alanon is a 12 Step recovery program designed to provide support, encouragement and emotional assistance to the families and friends of alcoholics.
So, why is it so difficult for new Alanon members to admit to themselves, God and one other person the exact nature of their strengths and weaknesses?
First, you may feel that your weaknesses far outweigh your strengths. Because of this, it may be very uncomfortable for you to be willing to admit your defects of character, even to yourself. However, your Fourth Step inventory is an important part of your Alanon recovery program. It is intended to assist you in seeing your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. Many Alanon members who are new to the program feel so discouraged with the way that their life has turned out, that they have trouble seeing any good in themselves. However, if they look hard, they will usually come to realize that their biggest weakness has simply been caring too much for someone who is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction. Caring too much is not a weakness! We just need to discover ways to channel our love in healthier directions and, at the same time, learn how to take care of ourselves and establish meaningful boundaries.
In other cases, Alanon members may be uncomfortable because they have told lies in the past, especially to cover up for the alcoholic or to avoid conflict with the alcoholic. They may feel guilty about this and other actions that they have taken. The important thing to remember is the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt means feeling bad about something you did. Shame means feeling bad about the person you are. Guilt can be resolved by making amends for past actions. Shame is something which we work to overcome in Alanon. No one, no matter what their background, should feel shame just because they exist! We all have strengths and ways in which we are able to contribute to our families and society as a whole. We all are important and worthy of friendship and love.
The next reason you may feel uncomfortable taking the Alanon Fifth Step is that you may have a strained relationship with God. Some newcomers to Alanon feel awkward praying and confessing their shortcomings to God. Some members may not believe He exists .Other members may feel that they have fallen too low, and that God no longer cares for them. There is a slogan in Alanon and Alcoholics Anonymous which states, "Fake it till you make it." Regarding this step, it means that you should go through the motions of praying and admitting your shortcomings to God, even if you don't believe it will make any difference. At the worst, it can't hurt anything; at best, you may be surprised at the outcome!
In addition, you may worry about sharing your Fifth Step because you do not know how to find someone who will listen to you share your Fourth Step inventory. Or, you may feel embarrassed to tell someone else your strengths and weaknesses. You may not want to go into detail about some of the actions that you have taken in the past. Have you lost your temper, and said horrible things to someone you love? Have you lied to your alcoholic's boss about his absences from work? Have you lied to family members about why the alcoholic appears to be ill so often? Do you feel that you have abandoned or mistreated your family? Do not despair. Many of the members of Alanon have said and done the same things you have. We all feel a deep bond with each other that comes from these shared experiences.
While working this step, you may also want to read more about this step, and the others. If you are looking for more Alanon books, you can use this direct link to Alanon books on Amazon.com.
If you haven't already found a sponsor by the Fifth Step, now is the time to do so. Look around your meeting and see if there is someone that you feel has a story that you identify with, or someone who has a sense of serenity that you admire. Ask this person to be your sponsor. This is the person who will listen to you share the strengths and weaknesses that you discovered while doing your Fourth Step inventory. This is the person who will guide you through the remainder of the 12 steps, who will be your confidant, who will listen when you go through difficult times with the alcoholic or drug abuser in your life. For many Alanon members, the sponsor who listens to their Fourth Step inventory becomes one of their best friends for the remainder of their life.
Finally, you may be in a situation in which it is difficult for you to get to your Alanon meetings. Perhaps you have young children, and can't get a babysitter. You may discover that there are some meetings in your area that offer free babysitting. Or, you may have a problem with transportation or getting around because of health issues. If you have access to a computer, you may be surprised to learn that there are online Alanon meetings. Discovering Alanon online, has been a life saver for many individuals who feel isolated by the alcoholic. There are Al-Anon chat rooms and forums which may be very helpful to you. Whatever your situation, try to get to an Alanon meeting, even if it is Alanon on line. In addition, you will want to be sure to get some Alanon books. They have helped millions of Alanon members keep their heads in some difficult situations.
You may also be interested in reading these Alanon articles :
photo courtesy of photoxpress.com
(The author has been a member of Alanon for 32 years.)
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