Featured Post: The Step of the Month
Step Four - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Although it takes strength and a lot of willingness to tackle the first three steps in AA, step four is often referred to as the first “action” step. Even the big book says, “Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action.” I might have been able to convince myself that I had admitted powerlessness, conceded the existence of a Higher Power, and made the decision to accept His will, but now there must be concrete evidence of my efforts as I take a written inventory. In my case I attended a fourth step seminar. My expectations were not high - I had merely seen a notice on the bulletin board at my AA club. After the first hour I was convinced I had made a mistake. They wanted me to focus on all the resentments I could list. Didn’t they know that those were the memories that had caused me to drink? When I tried to make this point the seminar leaders said two things that I was to hear repeated throughout the seminar; “trust the process” and “talk to your sponsor.” They pointed out that the purpose of doing a fourth step was to clear some of the debris that stood between myself and my Higher Power.
I worked my way through resentments, first figuring out who had done what to me and why it continued to bother me. For every slight I thought I had suffered, there was within me an instinct run amuck that would need to be addressed. Then came column four where I had to figure out just what that was.
Next came the same exercise with fears. It surprised me to realize how my life was being driven by fears. One of the greatest for me was someone discovering what a fraud I believed myself to be. I had accomplished some things, but I started to see how often I had quit an activity because I feared failure. I needed to believe I was special and resisted facing the reality that I wasn’t more talented and deserving than everyone else.
The book says the next thing we address is sex acts, but in the seminar we broadened this to include any behavior that we were ashamed of. I started to accept that I had been a bully just about as much as I had been bullied. I had a few deeply protected secrets that I was afraid would make my sponsor regret agreeing to hear my fifth step. It turns out he had heard much worse - but that’s the fifth step, a story for another time. I was surprised to see how often themes of self-centeredness and feelings of entitlement and superiority appeared when I honestly explored my transgressions. I also hadn’t realized how many others I had hurt; I always said I was alone when I drank and hadn’t bothered anyone else, but clearly I was trying to assuage myself and it was time to get honest. It was difficult and often emotional work, but I decided I would “trust the process” and I kept going. I can honestly say when I look back now I can see how it changed my life. And it turns out change was what I truly needed! I have since had the pleasure of being a helper in that fourth step seminar. It was a privilege seeing others face the truth about themselves and come out of it with new insight and a fresh outlook.
I sometimes fear that newcomers avoid the fourth step because they worry they will just confirm what they already dread. That they are no better than the rest and they have been acting inexcusably. Little did I know that discovering I was no better (or worse) than the rest would be a reprieve and free me from what the third step prayer calls “the burden of self.” In the remaining steps I was offered an opportunity to make amends for my infractions, but doing the “searching and fearless moral inventory” allowed me to begin forgiving both myself and others and was a huge step towards improving my connection with my Higher Power.
-Mike N., Sunday Speaker Meeting
RBA Board of Trustees Minutes
Monday March 8, 2021
Meeting Opened at 7:02pm
Opened with the Serenity Prayer and AA Traditions One and Two. Our mission is to manage the property, finances and 501C3 for the RBA.
1. Members Present:
Lori W., Dana Jo F., Norton L., Joe R., Jeff S., Bill M., Isaac S.,
Will S., Bookkeeper; Jerry Z., Maintenance
2. Building & Maintenance Report (Jerry Z.):
Jerry discussed recent events related to the janitorial services contracted by the club. Members had been providing feedback about the lack of cleanliness over the past few months. Jerry made these concerns known to RBA’s rep with Jani-King, and this person has been working to improve the services provided. The board is optimistic about the progress that is being made and we are confident the cleaning issues will be resolved very soon. Jerry then provided a recap of the conversations we have had with our paper supplier, Spruce Linen. Spruce had agreed to install updated paper towel machines which will require fewer batteries and less maintenance. Jerry plans to follow up with them this week to get an update on when these will be installed. Additionally, Jerry discussed the status of the back door he has been repairing repeatedly throughout the last few months. The board decided it is time to plan for a new door. Jeff S. and Jerry will speak with their contacts to get an estimate for the unique specifications required, and we will decide on this soon. Jerry recommended we revisit the asphalt repairs which are needed to resolve the pooling of water by the back door. These drainage issues are causing the asphalt to rise which may damage the building in the future. Lastly, Jerry plans to clean the exhaust vents in the club in coming weeks.
3. Financial Report:
Jeff reported on the financials for the month of February. Members donated over $900 towards the repayment of the line of credit on the blacktop project, and Jeff processed that transfer in early March. Will mentioned reimbursement of $477 for miscellaneous supplies during February as being the club’s only unusual expenditure for the month. Board members were reminded of the importance of submitting receipts for reimbursement as soon as possible going forward. A motion to approve the February financials was seconded and approved.
4. Old Business:
The board approved $300 for a printer during the February meeting, and one was purchased for less than $200 during the last month. An expenditure to obtain a Microsoft Office 365 license for RBA was also discussed in the February board meeting, and Jeff S. is close to finalizing this. Planning for the annual banquet began during the February board meeting and an update was provided by Jeff. Jeff mentioned Roger is working on finding a venue and will keep us informed of his progress. RBA’s usual venue was closed in 2020 and we are not confident it will reopen. A motion to approve the February meeting minutes was seconded and approved.
5. New Business:
A high occupancy apartment building is being constructed in the lot behind our club. The board has been approached by the contractor in hopes we will allow his crew to utilize 20 of our parking spaces for the next six months. RBA has a total of 29 daytime parking spots including the two handicap spaces in the front of the building. Our club can use the Spruce Linen lot for overflow parking at night and on weekends only. Our Tuesday morning meetings require a minimum of 20 spaces and anticipate more attendees as vaccinations are distributed. For this reason, the board decided to pass on the request. The priority of the board is to ensure adequate parking for any persons who would like to attend a meeting.
The board discussed the rbaaa.org website. Since this was launched in July of 2020, we have received over 2,200 visitors to our site. The number of people viewing the monthly Dry Sheet publication has declined, so the board agreed to spread awareness of this feature and the other webpages. We are hoping these efforts will result in more members reading previous submissions and deciding to contribute content to future editions. Furthermore, QR codes will be posted throughout the club to make it easier for club members to donate online. Attendees will have the ability to scan these codes with their smart phones and be taken directly to our donations page, which will be a convenient way to contribute via electronic payment. The board also briefly discussed the Amazon Smiles account for RBA. Members and attendees have the option to donate a percentage of Amazon purchases to our club at no additional cost. Directions on how to do this will be posted on the website and Facebook in coming weeks.
RBA would like to take steps to utilize excess capacity during weekday-evening hours. Bill M. discussed his intent to organize a “back to basics” workshop/meeting to provide additional support on the 12 Steps and the Big Book. Bill will forward updates on times and dates in coming weeks, and Joe R. will post this information on the RBA website and Facebook pages.
We then discussed the RBA library and options available to members. Jim Barnes, the current librarian, can order upon request literature and other items to be used in meetings. Jim’s contact information is posted on the glass doors of the library, so feel free to reach out directly.
Along with the previously mentioned janitorial updates, we discussed general cleanliness at the club. Members and meeting attendees will be asked to clean and put away dishes before they leave. We would like everyone to straighten up meeting areas ensuring the club is presentable for the next groups planning to use these spaces. Furthermore, we plan to review the details of our janitorial contract and ensure gaps are filled by volunteers who are interested in service work.
RBA is optimistic about the return to normal meeting conditions and club events soon. The increasing availability of COVID vaccinations and reports from the Department of Health indicate the club could begin relaxing restrictions in late spring or early summer. The board wishes to thank all members and attendees for continuing to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and disinfect surfaces after meetings until further notice. Plans are in the works to hold the annual banquet and picnic. Cake and ice cream will again be provided on birthday nights.
A motion to adjourn the meeting was passed at 8:14pm and we closed with The Lord’s Prayer.
-Joe R, Secretary Board of Trustees
Fourth Step Meditation
Tradition of the Month
“Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.”
The chapter on the fourth tradition in “Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions” is actually quite brief. It explains in long form what the passage above actually means, which is that each individual group has the freedom to manage their own affairs, provided that the group did not do anything to damage AA as a whole or become affiliated with anything or anyone else. “Damaging AA as a whole” is a vague way to phrase this, and it appears to be left up to common sense. This appears to work just fine, however, as any given group’s collective conscience would typically be capable of identifying anything that might fit this definition and stop it before it ever starts. More crucially, in my opinion, is the second guideline given, this appears to be a direct reinforcement of tradition one and tradition six. It is easy to see how problematic it would be for a group to be exclusive to those in particular political party, those in any one religion, or, perhaps worse, a corporation or organization in which money begins to cloud matters. These situations would all threaten the unity that comes with having a single primary purpose, personal recovery, and such segmentation would certainly do more harm than good for any newcomer.
The chapter also tells an amusing story about a group in one town that truly put this tradition to the test, ends up failing spectacularly and is the source of the original AA Rule #62. Rather than retype the story here, I invite anyone reading this to check it out in the book, it is a good one!
The chapter’s short length was a positive thing for me during this experience, not because I don’t enjoy reading from the book, but because it forced me to reflect on my own interpretations of the tradition and put them to page, rather than continue to analyze a chapter many have already read.
To me, this tradition is all about welcoming all those seeking sobriety, and about unity.
During a typical, non COVID 19 year, a newcomer might walk into a meeting and dislike something about the group or it’s format. Perhaps it was too prayer focused for him, or not focused on prayer enough. Perhaps they read from the big book for the whole hour, and he or she had been hoping for more group discussion, or the reverse of that. Because of this tradition, this person could try another meeting an hour later, and get a completely different kind of meeting! Maybe it was the second meeting or third, that puts this person on a path to recovery, and that, if each meeting was confined to a strict, rigid, consistent format, this person may have given AA up as not right for them. As a relative newcomer myself, I often view these traditions with them in mind, and group autonomy is important in giving each struggling individual the chance to find a meeting format that works for them.
AA is also about serenity and unity, and more rules require more rule enforcement and oversight, and while both of those things are absolutely necessary in many aspects of life (including, at least to a small degree, AA), too much of that in this community would not foster much serenity and unity, at least in my opinion. Many alcoholics, both active and recovering, don’t like to be told what to do, and while we do need to be sometimes, I think it is far more appealing to give each group autonomy and let us all collectively guard AA as a whole from harm while staying united behind our common purpose, to recover from alcoholism, and to help those still struggling do the same.
-Pat B., Sunday Speaker Meeting
You will notice laminated signs have been posted throughout our club which display the the QR code below. If you are short on cash and don't carry checks, this is a great way to donate to the club. Just open your camera app on your smart phone and point towards this code, then tap on the link that appears. This link will bring you to RBA's online platform for accepting donations. You are still welcome to donate with cash or check at the club during your meeting, or via our 'Donate' button on the homepage of the rbaaa.org website. RBA has numerous repair and maintenance projects to complete in coming months along with the parking lot loan to repay. We need additional support to ensure our club is maintained for future use.
-Joe R, Secretary Board of Trustees
Fourth Step Insights
Fourth Step Reflection
In early recovery I was burdened with depressing memories from my past and anxieties about the future. I was full of fear and didn’t think anyone could understand how difficult it was for me to stay sober. The friends I had met in AA shared about how they were able to “let go and let God” and give their worries over to a higher power, but I struggled to do the same. I remember reading in the 12x12 how I could overcome my struggles by pausing and saying The Serenity Prayer, but when I tried to do so the persistent negative thoughts continued to occupy my mind. I mentioned this to my sponsor, and he knew just what I needed. He helped me understand that if I wanted to turn my will and my life over to the care of my higher power, I needed to first clear away the wreckage of my past. My sponsor then referred me to a fourth step workshop that changed my life. Step four helped me understand that alcohol and drugs were only symptoms of the disease from which I needed relief. Working on the fourth step showed me my problems were truly of my own making and changing my life for the better meant I needed to change myself.
Before I actively participated in the solution to my problems, I blamed my circumstances for all the bad things that had happened to me. As a boy I felt sorry for myself because other kids would make fun of me for not having nice clothes or a nice bike. I was also overweight when I was young and felt so badly for myself when others pointed that out. I carried this self-pity around with me believing my parents didn’t give me what I needed to find happiness. As a teen I felt persecuted by my parents and teachers when they punished me for bad behavior. When I dropped out of college, I blamed my friends because I believed they influenced my drug and alcohol abuse which led to so many problems. I had a reputation for flirting with my friends’ girlfriends, and I resented this because I felt misunderstood. As a young man I thought I could do a better job of managing my workplace than my managers, and every time I got fired, I insisted it was because they were threatened by my superior abilities. When my young family fell apart, I blamed my significant other because she found happiness elsewhere. I also spent many nights drinking away the anxiety I felt when my sons did poorly in school. I carried all these memories and resentments around with me for years and replayed them every time I needed an excuse to drink or do drugs. Eventually I almost died from my addictions, which led to abstinence, but the memories and resentments continued to make my life seem unmanageable.
I began to feel some relief from my anxiety and depression soon after joining the fourth step workshop. I started out by listing my resentments and the people involved on the worksheets provided. I then went down the third column and thought about what part of myself was affected. By doing this I began to feel some responsibility for these uncomfortable memories because they were part of me and separate from the other people in my life. As I moved on to the fourth column, I began to understand how my morality fit into the exercise. I realized that my selfishness and self-centerless was the source of my problems. Throughout my past I saw most situations from my perspective only and failed to consider how my actions affected the other people involved. Some of my resentments were difficult to work through because people had truly harmed me without being provoked; what I learned was that I didn’t have to hold on to this anger or fear any longer regardless of how serious the offence. I could make the choice to move on, or I could choose to remember these offenders for the positive impact they had on my life. I began to understand that if I wanted to find happiness, I must learn to be empathetic. Empathy was a revelation to me because I felt a strong sense that my higher power could help in that regard.
After accepting blame for my wrongs and taking responsibility for my feelings, I was able to continue with my fearless and searching inventory. I looked back on my past and considered how I had hurt every person who ever meant anything to me. There were people who tried to help me along the way, but I made fools of them instead. I caused physical harm to some because I thought my fear justified doing so. I stole from people because I believed my struggle was unique and deserved what I wasn’t willing to earn. I punished my children by withholding love and affection and justified this by believing I was teaching them to be men. I had gossiped about friends so I could get attention without deserving it. I spread rumors about my children’s mother to divert attention away from my unwillingness to keep them safe. I spent my family’s money on drugs and alcohol instead of building a future for us because it was easier to run from my problems than to work on myself. I embraced feelings of guilt and shame because it was easier to punish myself than to be of service to others. Listing these offences was empowering because I no longer felt like a victim of my circumstances. I came to understand what actions I needed to take to stay sober and find happiness.
I remember the fourth step as a turning point in my sobriety. This work helped me realize the importance of honesty and courage in my life. I spent most of my days thinking it was okay to act immorally if nobody else held me accountable. I also believed I was smart enough to fool others into believing I was worthy of their friendship without earning it. After taking my inventory I understood I was wrong. I began to feel accountable to the world because I had opened a channel to my higher power. I began to feel a connection to others and understood my happiness depends on my contribution to the community around me. I realized I am capable of acting courageously, and with God’s help I can choose to do the next right thing in every circumstance.
-Joe R., Squad 5C
AA Speaker of the Month: Scott L.
Recent and Upcoming Sobriety Anniversaries
Please join us in congratulating the following people on their sobriety milestones!
John G (9/8/2020) celebrated six months during March!!!
Stacie L (1/3/21) celebrated three months during March!!!
Jim B (3/11/85) celebrated 36 years during March!!!
Deb C (2/26/20) celebrated one year during February!!!
Charles W (3/3/82) celebrated 39 years during March!!!
Tim K (3/7/09) celebrated 12 years during March!!!
Patti C (3/6/06) celebrated 14 years during March!!!