I am repeating the Fourth Step process – the first time in a few years. I am using the set of questions contained in the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve and Twelve. I believe in working and reworking the Steps as a part of my recovery. The process always reveals new insights and helps me to move along my recovery road. I am intentional this time around about taking a “moral” inventory and not beating myself up mercilessly as I did some 30 years ago when doing my first Fourth Step in Alcoholics Anonymous. I am mindful of the fact that over those three decades I have in fact grown and matured. I am less a person completely governed by “self-will run riot.” The Fourth Step process certainly informs me of many areas and behaviors of my life in need of a reality check.
So for many of the questions, I was pleased to recognize and write that yes, I have in fact grown in this or that respect over the years but those questions continue to provide new insights. Here is one:
Are we snobs? Do we pay more attention to VIPS than ordinary people?
My knee jerk reaction was – of course not. I am very salt of the earth. You won’t catch me at a restaurant with 9 pieces of silverware at a place setting. But I also got to thinking about the question some more. For example, my memory has never been a strong feature for me, and I have learned to be very intentional when meeting folks to really concentrate on their names so I don’t forget them. So when I began to attend a new group meeting on Wednesday mornings, I made a special effort to remember everyone’s name. Also, I help with a meal through the Open Table program for the underserved every Tuesday afternoon here in New Orleans. In a given month there might be 30 or so volunteers that cycle through to help. This past week there was a fellow I had met several times before and had to confess I did not remember his name. Partially because he is from Belfast, Northern Ireland, with a somewhat thick accent and I am not certain I ever really got his name completely. But this past week, we re-introduced, acknowledged that both of us had forgotten each others names, and now his name “Artie” is forever impressed on my brain.
But then I got to thinking about those who come to receive a meal, a voucher for a night’s housing, and some toiletries. I know none of their names. Many of these clients who come for the services are more regular than the volunteers. In these types of situations, I am more comfortable mingling with the clients than hanging with the volunteers in the kitchen and dealing with the food. But I have never asked any of the clients their name. A bit of snobbery – paying more attention to the haves than the have-nots. Nothing earth shattering, but a truth learned on the recovery road.
A lesson too that the Steps, if I choose to use them, always provide new insights and opportunities for growth.