The Darkness of the Fourth Step and Reminders of who I am [we are]
By Seekrecovery
9/22/2010 8:05:10 AM
So I started truly going at the Fourth Step Sunday--the Fearless and Thorough Moral Inventory. It was painful and by the time I was done I was without hope. This discouragement fell into Monday when I had I huge fight with my wife--and she said some things that really hurt. I realize now I had started the day on the defensive because of the 4th step stuff I was carrying. At any rate much darkness this week--and this in much contrast to the natural "high" of recovery I have been experiencing over recent weeks. I suffer at times from suicidal thoughts and they have never been worse than on Monday evening. I sat in my car and just played out what I would do--and wanted to do. I went to group last night but still the hope didn't come. So I called my sponsor. He said some things that really helped me. I've placed this list at the beginning of my Fourth Step--good reminders.

Reminders from my Sponsor
1. You Are A Child of God
2. It will get better
3. Remember that God Loves us in ways that are beyond our understanding
4. You won’t have to do this again
5. The 4th step is the step “boot camp.” It will break you down but when you build up again you will be stronger.
6. We have to be able to Love Ourselves
7. Lucifer Does not want you to feel good

Hope again. Now to get through this thing so that I don't have to keep revisiting the darkness.


my same experience    

I had the same experience. Very dark feelings and suicidal thoughts that were a little to close to reality. The only difference is I don't have a sponsor. LDS addiction meetings that I have gone to (about 60-70 meetings) don't discuss sponsorship. I wonder why not. It is true, that it will get better. Just hang on. Love, brother, love."
posted at 10:04:26 on September 22, 2010 by lawrence
Thank You    
"Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this step and the hope of getting past it. I certainly hope you are feeling better, and looking forward to putting this behind you. I am grateful for your example and honesty.

I have been bouncing back and forth between steps 4 and 1 for a while now. It seems like I keep finding new negatives to add to my inventory, occasionally I'll fine a new positive but, the negatives definitely make the vast majority of my list. It gets tempting to start minimizing or brushing off some of the things I know need to be on there, and then I am forced to return to step 1.

I have also had a hard time accepting my own self worth, especially in light of this inventory. But I recently read/listened to a BYU talk by James Harper - "Secret Shame: Isolation From Self" which has helped me understand that my perspective of my self is slightly skewed. So, once again, back to step 1. An honest vision of my own self worth despite my mistakes has been as hard for me to grasp as being completely honest about the nature of my mistakes.

Nevertheless, progress is being made, and hope is slowly being restored.

Thank you,"
posted at 10:20:03 on September 22, 2010 by paul
The wives go through it too!    
"I did my fourth step several months ago and had the same experience. It was very painful to go back and see my life. My husband was great and understood what I was going through because he'd done his already. He called one afternoon while I was working on mine. I guess I didn't sound very well when I answered the phone. I told him I was journaling and was hating the old him and where I was right then. He was great about supporting me and just letting me feel the emotions. Once I had gone through it, I haven't had to go back. Every so often I'll hit another 'pus pocket' and remember something I hadn't journaled. I just get it over with and move on. I finally feel great. I haven't had to go back to anything painful since I got it out. In fact, the emotion has been removed from the event. I still remember, but there is no pain with the memory. I hope you'll feel the same way soon. This pain will also help you remember what it's like when your wife goes through her fourth step.

It really does get better. Keep moving forward."
posted at 11:51:47 on September 22, 2010 by SEEINGLIGHT
Get in, and get the hell out!    
"My experience has been to not linger on Step Four. Once you start it, finish it and move on to Step Five as soon as possible. Those feelings are necessary but can be counterproductive if we linger in them any longer than we have to. My suggestion is after you've finished Step Four, make an appointment immediately with your sponsor so you can share the burden of this step with someone else. There is a HUGE advantage in having a sponsor that has years of 12 Step experience, versus a bishop or close friend. A good sponsor can help you WORK the fifth step and move you towards forging yourself.

Seekingrecovery, it sounds like you are really doing everything right. I have high hope for you. Keep up the momentum!"
posted at 14:42:50 on September 22, 2010 by Anonymous
It's Worth It    
"I agree that getting it done as quickly as possible is a good thing. Remember that it is the past, and not who you are now. I had a really hard time writing down the things I had done. It was hard to see the picture of what I'd done, but when I went through it with my counselor it was all worth it. It was hard to tell someone my whole history, but I felt soooo much better afterwards. Don't hold anything back, no matter how embarassing. Get it all out and put it behind you.

Good luck!"
posted at 15:56:22 on September 22, 2010 by dstanley
Thanks all    
"I appreciate everyone's support. I worked on the Fourth Step tonight again--and I am going to keep pushing forward--not going to let it linger. Still very dark--today a dark day. I find myself wanting to isolate. I am angry at my wife; I don't want to be around her. This is of no fault of her--just my honest true state right now. I want to be alone--I don't want to be at home. I don't want to be with others. I want to be alone. Last night I left. I drove into the woods and listened for Elk bugling. It's not the addiction stuff that is hurting--I'm sort of pass that--I let it all out in June/July of this year--everything--to my sponsor and to my bishop--and I've been very open with my wife for a long time. But now I am facing the other stuff--the me accepting me stuff and certain insecurities I've had most of my life (not just when I was in addiction but before during and now after my addiction).

Paul--I just listened to Brother Harpers talk. It was right on for me. Tonight I was writing about many experiences. I kept thinking does this relate--should I write this. It seems trivial. Stuff about being scared about a close friend getting to know the "real me" when I was in high school. I just don't think I truly was accepting of who I was. Anyways when Brother Harper started talking about the "shameful" personality some of his descriptions were exactly what I had been describing. All the sudden the trivial stuff seemed more important and to make more sense to me. Very useful talk and one I will have to study more.

This is scary ground for me. There are things here I have not acknowledged before. But the more I write and ponder, and after listening to Brother Harpers talk, I'm realizing some of the the real problems I have ignored. I'm amazed at things that have been there all along that I didn't realize (like not realizing for 14 years that I liked my addiction--enjoyed it--I never allowed the thought to come to the surface until I was pondering during step 1). Right now I am realizing that I never have considered that I didn't like myself or that my biggest fear is that people would get to know the "real me" because if they knew the "real me" they wouldn't like me. The fear was always there but I don't think I've really ever directly thought about it. Hmmm...It is dark for me. I don't like it. But just typing this helps. I really believe I can change the way I think about myself and see the goodness. "
posted at 00:47:09 on September 23, 2010 by Seekrecovery
Moving Forward    
"I'm glad that talk helped you too Seek. I have really felt the same way, by recognizing and finally accepting everything from my past, some of which I even considered before, it sometimes feels as though I am really getting to know myself for first time. How could I have ever expected to have an intimate (read not physical, just close... deeply connected) relationship with my wife when I didn't even want to admit to myself who I really was. And without that intimacy its no wonder the two of us have been wondering what was missing.

I don't mean to be presumptuous and keep pushing things on you, this one may not even apply to you, but another talk that really stood out to me was Mike Buxton's "Intimate Solutions: Becoming Response-Able to the Temptation of Pornography".

It feels good to begin to accept myself to some degree, and thus be able to give myself more fully to my wife. She deserved that, and offered that from the beginning. But my own weaknesses and lack of understanding prevented us from truly sharing it. Ironically, it is that sort of intimacy, the kind that pornography causes a deep fear of, the kind that comes from giving your whole un-hidden self to another that heals the wounds caused by this disease.

I've still got a long long way to go on this road. In fact I'm still taking the first steps, but it is so... enlightening and refreshing to finally see the road that got me here, and the road back out."
posted at 10:25:14 on September 23, 2010 by paul
Thanks again Paul    
"I'll look at that other talk as well. Acceptance of myself is a step I need to take. It is interesting how you talked about having to work from step four back to step 1. Last night we did step one in a Group Meeting. I realized that while I've gone through step 1 for my addiction stuff I have some other stuff (perhaps heavier baggage although not direct sin/transgression stuff) that I need to accept my powerlessness over. Essentially I have a lot of areas that need steps 1-3. I'm still skeptical that I can truly be released of some of my sponsor last night was saying you will be free from thought is "Lord help thou my unbelief.""
posted at 04:44:28 on September 24, 2010 by Seekrecovery
Great Talk    
I just listened to Mike Buxton's talk. Again very insightful and so much to think about. One of the things I've often wondered was if part of my problem didn't originate from an early age not realizing that sexual attraction was normal or even a good thing--it it was harnessed. I remember at a very young age (~5th Grade) looking at pictures of women in swimsuits or underwear in newspaper adds and just being so curious. I would sneak them away to look at them. I felt so guilty about doing this. I remember that finally at ~10:30 one night I went to my parents and told them I had to talk with the Bishop right then. I went to his home and told him about what I had been doing. But I don't think I ever did discuss this with my parents--I really felt guilty. I like what Dr Buxton is saying--that we need to allow ourselves to talk and communicate about our sexual drive. I've got a son that is approaching that age--I'm hoping to be able to have some open discussions with him so that if he does have struggles he doesn't have to hide them in a guilt trapped mind for years.

I'm still working through step 4 and to be honest other than the fact I am still clean I think I am not better for it at this point. Angry. Resentful. Short tempered. Unkind. My wife was questioning the whole fourth step yesterday. "Why would you do this?" I told her I really believe it will help but that the help and the healing of the atonement really occurs in the following steps--the fourth step is just about understanding who we really are. The analogy at the end of Dr Buxtons talk was real good for me--essentially he talks about a plant being transplanted from bad to good soil but no matter how good the soil is the plant's roots have been damaged. Even in the good soil the plant must go through a period of healing and recovery from the shock of being transplanted before it with thrive. I'm finding that when I face challenges I subconsciously am desiring to go back to my old numbing agent. And truth is I just need to accept that life is full of let downs, set-backs, unfair situations--and I need to learn to accept the feelings that come at those times."
posted at 16:34:29 on October 11, 2010 by Seekrecovery
Similar stories...    
"So many of us have such similar stories. I've actually been able to draw links back to when I was only about 6 years old. I wasn't involved in pornography or anything at that time. But I do remember bringing home a picture of my kindergarten class. I was sitting with my mom and dad looking at the pictures and they started asking me if I thought some of the girls in my class were pretty. There was one girl in particular that I guess I had a crush on, and when they pointed to her, I said I thought she was pretty. They just laughed at me.

Of course looking back now, I know that to them it was just cute. A six-year old picking out a pretty girl in his class, who wouldn't chuckle? However, I took it the wrong way and clearly remember deciding to never talk to them about girls again. And I didn't. They never brought it up (not even for the supposedly obligatory sex talk) and neither did I. I felt ashamed of the feelings I had for girls from then on. I mean... I knew they were normal, my friends would always talk about girls they thought were attractive. I would talk too, but always keeping my personal feelings/opinions very guarded. I never really had anyone I felt was safe to talk to. I went through high-school going on dates, hanging out with girls, probably going a bit too far with one (thankfully not too far to prevent me going on a mission, but it still shouldn't have happened.), and they never knew about any of it.

I don't blame my parents for my addiction. But the lack of communication about relationships/dating/sex certainly made it harder for me to find answers when I needed them. I have no doubt that I initially believed pornography to contain some of the answers I was missing.

I can also relate to your comments on step 4 progress. Sometimes it is hard to see how far we've come. I definitely have those days too. Never underestimate the good that you are allowing in your life by staying clean, whether you feel it now or not. It might also help to hear that recognizing that you have bouts of anger, resent, and unkindness is a major step in the right direction. Now that you know you have that in your life, you can begin to address it.

I catch myself several times a week, if not several times a day, mid-thought, fabricating a lie for no particular reason. Something I didn't even know I was really doing, or at least didn't recognize how frequently I was doing it, until just a couple months ago. But now that I do recognize it, I can catch myself and work on being honest instead.

Thank you for continuing to work on this Seek. You and I are in very similar places and I appreciate your example and your thoughts and insights."
posted at 17:33:36 on October 11, 2010 by paul

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"In a decaying environment, the mind is the last redoubt of righteousness, and it must be preserved even amid bombardment by evil stimuli. Christ is competent to see us through, “for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” As promised, He will make either “a way to escape” or a way “to bear it”."

— Neal A. Maxwell

General Conference May 1987