Heard in meetings: “My sponsor told me, ‘We are not allowed to take inventory of other people.’ ”
Really? This is another one of those slogans/rhetoric/opinions that is passed along through sponsorship lines and Group Think. —For specifics on how we take inventory of others in our fourth step, get out your A.A. basic text.
Turn to the chapter “How it Works.” On page 64, we are instructed to write about our many resentments: “In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper.” Page 65 instructs us how to go about doing an in-depth columns inventory. We begin by writing down all the people, institutions, or principles that got us pissed off. “On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries.”
CONSIDER: throughout the basic text, the writers took serious inventory of themselves AND each other covering a wide history of alcoholics, to get thorough and detailed descriptions of the type of alcoholic who needs this program.
What are “our injuries?”
These are what go in THE CAUSES column (column two) of our grudge list. HERE is where we must take inventory of other people… all those jerks, a-holes, sons-of-bitches, and other names I don’t need to list, but you know them. We write down all the mean, rotten, low-down, dirty crap they did… all the stuff that hurt us, injured us, which screwed us over. We get it all out. Some people write pages for each person—that’s okay because this is a serious look at ALL our ‘harbored resentments.’ If we don’t get in there and dig this stuff out, bits and pieces will stay in there, keep festering—and if left alone, WILL cause us to drink again.
In addition, this part of taking step four is vital for taking the fifth step. Page 72: “We have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path.” Discussing these things (this means a conversation, not just ‘dumping your crap’) with another human being gets us out of that “double life.” Page 72: “. . .if we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking.” Starting at the bottom of page 73 to the top of page 74: “We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world.”
When we have the all that crap and muck laid out in front of us—THEN we will be able to move on and “resolutely look for our own mistakes.” THEN we can take inventory of ourselves—our mistakes, where we have been to blame, our selfishness, and our faults. This part of the inventory goes in COLUMN FOUR: on page 67, the paragraph that begins with, “Referring to our list again. . .”
NOTE: If issues of abuse, such as new memories of childhood trauma come up, you do not need to share these with your A.A. guide/sponsor. In fact, nowhere in the instructions for step five is there a mention of sharing your grudge list with anyone in A.A. Just share in a general way and then make an appointment to discuss these with a qualified therapist. If your sponsor wants to hear the nitty-gritty details to ‘help you be honest and thorough,’ point out page 74 which gives us various options for who to discuss our grudge list with. If he/she still insist, you may want to find another sponsor—find an A.A. Guide who actually studies the basic text. Too many sponsors try to practice therapy without a license.
ETC: A recovered alcoholic in Oregon—relieved of the obsessions but not cured of the allergy.