I was asked to write about my step four experience. I’m sitting on a train as I reflect on this entire process, these past few months, and what surrendering to this program has done for me. My name is Ashleigh, I am 26 years old, and today I can honestly say I am a grateful recovering addict. I am still working my steps; it took me a while to get past my fourth if I’m being honest. I made a ton of excuses. I took my time and ultimately I sat in my crap and felt sorry for myself. It was soul crushing. How could I take an honest, long, hard look at all the things I’ve done? I felt like a monster. How could I look at all the resentments I’ve carried? I felt angry and overwhelmed. How could I stand toe to toe with my deepest fears? I felt like a coward.
Up until this point I was building this really beautiful and solid foundation for my recovery. I was being honest, thorough, teachable, curious, connected, and willing. I was following direction, taking action, and praying my heart out trying to develop a relationship with my higher power. I experienced many shifts, light bulb moments, and realizations. I made tough choices, let go of toxic relationships and old behaviours, developed this healthy routine, putting my self care and recovery first. It was amazing. I was nurturing this spiritual malady I have and I was reaping the benefits. I was happy, grateful and excited about life.
When I started step four I was told by my sponsor that I needed to “not stay there long because the longer I hold onto these things, the sicker I will get.” That’s exactly what started happening. The longer I was afraid to look the world in the eye and procrastinate on this significant step, the more I sat in these resentments. The longer I held onto those fears, the more I hated myself.
I saw myself slipping into old behaviours: sleeping in, not paying attention or participating in meetings, not building my relationship to my higher power, not doing my morning practices (yoga, exercise, meditation, readings, etc.). I was going backwards. I started feeling sad again. Things were happening around me and I was not being present, and that’s when I got to my knees and asked my higher power to please help me. This program has given me the ability to be self aware. I realized what was happening for these few weeks and I knew I wanted to feel alive and connected again, so I did the thing I knew would work, the one thing I should have been doing all along. I got on my knees and begged my higher power to remove my fear and any defects that stand in the way of me completing my fourth step. Within 24 hours I finished my fourth step, contacted my sponsor, and went through it with her. We talked for six hours that night. I told her everything. We cried, we laughed, I yelled, we were honest, and I felt free.
I went to this serene forest by my house that night to meditate. The moon was out, the sky was pink, I was listening to this beautiful song called “The Power Is Here Now” by Alexia Chellun and as I sat there reflecting over the process, thinking about how much I feared such an inspiring outcome, I started giggling at myself. My dad always said, “How can you be scared if you have no idea what the outcome may be? What if it’s beautiful?” I got it in that moment. Then I started to cry and thank my higher power, then I laughed more, cried more, laughed again. I walked through the path, admiring the trees, watching the stars and focusing on the river. I felt like all the pain, heaviness, hurt, anger, self hate, and grief were flowing out of me and down that river. The best way to describe the feeling is like this: The process crushed my soul and made it feel so dark. The result though, completing my fourth and fifth step, felt like my soul was renewed, being rebuilt, but this time, only with the light. All the dark stuff was just gone and I felt more alive than I have ever felt in my life. This was the spiritual experience that allowed me to forgive myself and finally move on and make room for all the good and new experiences the next steps would bring me.