Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (*)
Has there ever been an addict, to a substance or a behavior, that didn’t try to hide their actions? Hiding is one of the characteristics of an addict and Step 5 is where we begin to move out of the place of keeping shameful secrets and into healing and freedom.
That new openness starts with letting someone else know all of what we uncovered in Step 4.
But first it’s you and your higher power
Okay, you obviously admitted a whole bunch about yourself as you wrote your inventory. As part of your preparation for Step 5, take a few moments and re-read your inventory in a thoughtful, even prayerful way. Acknowledge your current conception of a high power as you do so. Notice how you feel as you read it to yourself.
You may find yourself tempted to strike out a portion or add an explanation that moves the blame from you to someone else. Don’t. The inventory is about you, period.
If you discover you left something out that needs to be included, by all means do so, but you may not find anything. You may in fact be ready for your 5th Step.
Finding the person for Step 5
You want to find someone you can read your 4th Step to out loud. Your sponsor may be an ideal choice. After all, they’ve already gotten to know you a bit, and they will understand exactly what you’re trying to do. If that feels right, pick up the phone and make an appointment to do just that. There’s nothing to be gained by putting it off, and a whole lot of good reasons to get it done.
Sometimes, however, you may want to do your 5th step with someone else. You want someone you know will keep your inventory in confidence. A priest, pastor or therapist might be ideal. Be sure they understand what you’re doing and are willing to hear what you have to tell them.
Don’t lay your 5th Step on a spouse or significant other, or your parents or any other relative. There’s no point in burdening them with this kind of detail about you. Find someone else – and there are lots of people at meetings that would be happy to hear you.
A 5th Step story I hope is true
Early on someone told this story:
A man I’ll call Sam understood he needed to do his 5th Step but was too frightened to give it to anyone he knew, even his sponsor. So he got on a bus and went all the way across town. Sam then got on another bus that was going in a whole different direction, and walked clear to the back where he sat next to a total stranger. Sam quickly told the guy what he was doing and read his inventory to this stranger just as quick as he could, then without ever looking the guy in the eye, exited the bus.
It took several bus rides for Sam to get home in time for his regular meeting. Feeling relived and rather proud of himself he made his way to the front row and sat down… only to realize the fellow he sat next to was the stranger he’d given his 5th Step to.
I have no idea at all if this story is true or not. I sure hope it is.
The 5th Step does feel frightening, at least until you do it. I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised and much relieved as you take this step toward becoming Powerfully Recovered!
Balance it with a positive inventory
It can really help if you balance your 4th Step with at least a short positive inventory after you’ve done your 5th Step. This isn’t spelled out quite this way in the Big Book, but the 12 and 12 does say in the 10th step that “…inventory-taking is not always done in red ink. ” (p. 92)
And finding some good things about you may not be easy right now. When my sponsor sent me home to write a list of what was okay about me all I could write at the top of the page was “I tried to be good.” Not much, but enough to keep me from feeling I was just awful. A little bit of self-worth is better than none at all I think.
What was your experience with Step 5.
Love, blessings and abundance,