There are apparently a number of different schools of thought when it comes to working the steps. Some of them I understand and some of them I don’t. For instance, why would you spend all that time and effort writing out a personal inventory only to dispose of it before it can be of any real use to you? I had a sponsee come up to me once and proudly proclaim that she had set fire to her fourth step. After I picked my jaw and eyeballs up off the floor, I asked her what had possessed her to do such a thing. She responded that she had heard someone in a meeting say their sponsor had told them to do just that and it sounded like a great idea. Unfortunately, my sponsee learned all too early what it felt like to write a second fourth step inventory.
Folks, I can’t stress enough the importance of working with a sponsor. You can’t fix the shit in your head WITH the shit in your head. Hopefully you picked your sponsor because you like his or her program and want what he or she has. In order to get that, you have to do what he or she did, so you need to follow their particular guidance. You may not understand why they’ve got you doing things the way you’re doing them, but they see the bigger picture. All this advice here… yeah, I learned it all the hard way. Don’t be like me. Even if you don’t understand what’s going on, listening to your sponsor is by far the easier, softer way.
Enough with the PSA. On with the show. Simply put, step 8 is pretty much just a list of names. Thing is, most of the names for this list will be the same ones on our resentment list and the rest will be associated with the character defects we identified through the fourth step. If we threw out our inventory after our fifth step, then how do we know which character defects we need to ask God to take away in 6 & 7 or to whom we need to make amends in 8 & 9? Women, especially, are bad about harming people through our “people pleasing” and mothering instincts. If we aren’t conscious of what patterns of behavior we unveiled in step 4, then we will not be able to rectify the harms caused by those behaviors that aren’t typically identified as harmful and we will continue to harm others even as we attempt to help them.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” – Matthew 7:4 (NIV)