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woman standing on a mountainside with her arms out after completing her fourth step

My Fourth Step: Freedom from Hindrance

Last Updated on

When I first started going to AA, I always hear people talk about how difficult and intimidating the fourth step is, so I wasn’t very serious about it and just did it because I was told to. I didn’t work any of the steps properly and I wasn’t successful. The second time around, when I was ready to get sober, I was prepared.

I remembered hearing the fourth step was challenging because you have to write down everything you’ve done wrong, list the people you’ve hurt, and list the people who have hurt you – staring at all that written down on paper isn’t the most fun thing in the world. Yes, this moral inventory is intimidating and tough to do, but the end result is freedom from those hindering things taking up room in your mind and heart that prevent you from growing. Those things contributed to your addiction and why your life is unmanageable.

I was ready for my fourth step when my sponsor and I tackled it. I wanted to be free from things in my past that were haunting me. I remember putting on some music and pouring myself a cup of coffee when I sat down and with determination said, “let’s do this.”

There were four lists, and it wasn’t fun, but I felt so much better to get all that out.

The person at the top of my list was my mother. She’s such a sweet woman and has never done anything wrong to anyone in her life. Growing up, I was a brat making her life so difficult and not treating her well – she didn’t deserve that.

As I was doing my fourth step, an overwhelming urge to call her came over me. The fear of doing anything wrong while working the steps always weighed on me because I didn’t want to mess up and relapse, so I called my sponsor and asked if it was ok to call my mother. Even though making amends is further down the line, my sponsor said I could call her and apologize. When I did, my mother said she had already forgiven me and could see I was becoming a new person. My efforts to work the program and stay sober weren’t going unnoticed, and I felt a huge sense of relief and had faith I was going to be ok.

  • Lexie is an Aftercare Coordinator for Lakeview Health. As someone in long-term sobriety herself, she enjoys helping others begin their journey into recovery.

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