I Asked Him Why

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. ~ AA p 59

Whenever I think about this step I flashback to my early sobriety. I was only in the program a few months before one of my buddies gave me an illustration I’ll never forget.

He and I got to the tables about a week apart and naturally shared an early recovery bond. In the first few weeks we went to a Saturday workshop at the Industrial Club. A panel of AA’s were there to lead us through some ideas on how to write our 4th Step. They also gave some hints and spoke of how they chose someone to listen to their 5th Step.

He and I took notes at the picnic table we shared, occasionally looking at each other with confusion and incredulation as they talked about how to proceed. There was a lot of take-home information, but we didn’t work on the step at the club. It was all good ‘how to’ stuff. On the way out the door to our cars, he said, I’m not too sure about doing this.

I asked him why.

He said, It’s too hard*. He looked like he was going to cry.

For weeks I tried to think of how to encourage him to take the 4th Step. My sponsor invited us to go to a weekend 4th Step retreat in Waterloo and I paid my fee. He didn’t.

The weekend came and went. My friend in AA came and went from the program. He just couldn’t face Steps 4 and 5.

Looking back, I think of my friend and miss him. I still pray for him but I know he never got back to the program after I left Iowa.

All this makes me think of when I was a kid and we lived in the White House. Oh, you know it? Yes, the one on Main in Clermont, Iowa next to the Episcopal church? We lived there and I counted 8 wooden steps from the porch to the sidewalk. I bet you think I’m going to say I tried to jump from the sidewalk to the 4th step. Nope.

Reverse that. I jumped from the 4th step to the sidewalk. I never jumped more than 4 steps and I never jumped up. I was 5 but I was fundamentally opposed to getting hurt. Jumping down gave me a big landing area, unlike jumping up which was so much riskier, not to mention more difficult. Jumping from the 1st step to the 4th was probably not possible for my short legs.

There’s an obvious parallel here. In hind sight, I’m guessing it’s Steps 1, 2 and 3 that were really the problem for my friend. Jumping over steps just doesn’t work out well. I’m still fundamentally opposed to getting hurt. Being afraid I’d never make it back into the program if I ever took another drink, I worked the steps in order and I didn’t jump.