This is where the real freedom begins. To sit down and tell another person the exact nature of our wrongs... not something we would normally want to do, but under the threat of alcoholic death, it seems a little bit more palatable.
When I wrote my first 4th Step inventory, I wanted it out of my house, so I took it to my sponsor to wait until we could do the 5th Step. In the meantime, she left her husband (it seems he didn't want a woman with a handgun in her purse living in his home). She called to tell me that she had left and it didn't take me long to wonder where my written 4th step was. She told me in the most casual way that she gave it to Jerry. Jerry! I didn't even LIKE Jerry let alone want him to have my 4th step! Well, I freaked out and asked her where Jerry was... she said he was down at the club. I hopped into the car immediately and drove to the club. Jerry was there at the counter. I frantically approached him and asked him if he had something of mine. He picked up the folded notebook paper that was my inventory, waved it in the air and said "you mean this?" I told him I needed to get that back from him, that it contained lethal information... information that could destroy my life.
He waved it in the air and told me that by the time I got done with the rest of the steps there wouldn't be anything in that inventory that I wouldn't be willing to have on the front page of the Rocky Mountain News - if it would help someone else. I told him that he certainly didn't understand and asked him to give me my paperwork. He gave it to me with a smile. I thought he was a jackass.
But you know what? He was absolutely right. By the time I sat down with my sponsor (after she got rid of the handgun and moved back in with her husband) and told her my whole story... starting with the written inventory and going from there, I was free of the shame and guilt.
I think that trying to describe this is probably like trying to tell someone what it is like to eat a piece of fruit if they never have. There is no way to describe it. Certainly no one but a weirdo would look forward to going to another person and telling them all the tangled tales of twisted relationships, the lies, the hurt we have caused, the horrible wreckage we have caused. And if you have never done this, it would make no sense to you that telling someone all of this would cause something akin to elation.
I began to realize that I was just a garden variety drunk. That once the things that brought me the most shame and had been carefully kept secret for years were out in the open they lost their power.
After several years of sobriety and practicing the steps, I was able to go back to the church of my youth. I was able to step back into the confessional and go through that process, which brought incredible freedom - but that is another story.
I don't know what else there is to write about this.
But I will go off on a side note. If you have read these posts for the past 5 days, you may have noticed that the people I encountered in AA did not always act great and treat me fabulous when I got sober. They were frequently unreliable and untrustworthy. And thanks to that, I placed my reliance on God, not on other people. With the help of God, I was able to keep trudging until I found a great sponsor and great friends in AA, but that did not happen overnight.
I am so grateful for these characters who helped me to get sober. That first sponsor? She is now drinking. The second sponsor? She is now drinking. Jerry? He died sober about 5 years ago. I don't know where the second sponsor's husband is, but he sure helped me. They all did. I am so grateful.