Step Five

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

Step Five Contents:

Introduction and Questions for journaling
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling

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Step Five ~ Introduction

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

Hi everybody, my name is Rhonda and I am a compulsive overeater. I am grateful to have this opportunity to lead Step 5 it was a powerful healing step for me & I would certainly encourage anyone who wants recovery to take it as soon as you are ready. I will share how I came to understand and work Step 5 & what it has meant to my recovery.

Here is the short version of my story of compulsive overeating. It started in my late teens with an obsession with being thin, a couple of people made careless remarks of the 'it looks like you are putting on weight' variety. At that time if I was overweight at all it was no more than 10-15 lbs. This somehow started me fasting and starving myself and eventually bingeing and purging. In order to control my weight I purged using laxatives or making myself sick. After about 8 years of doing this on and off, mostly on, I gave up trying to control my weight. I was also so sick of feeling sick so much of the time & I was afraid I might do some lasting harm to my body. I decided that what I feared most - 'being fat' could not possibly be worse than how I felt. I gave up trying to control my weight and over the next 8-10 years alternated between being a reasonable weight & being 30-80 lbs overweight. Everytime I would get my weight down I would find I was still unable to cope with life and I would escape back into fat again. Today, I am gratefully recovering from compulsive overeating one day at a time. For today, I do not even feel the urge to binge & that is a miracle!!! I have been abstinent since Dec. 11, 1997 and to date have released 38 lbs. In addition I have had tremendous emotional & spiritual growth.

For me, walking through the doors of my first OA meeting was the admission of powerlessness required in Step 1. Agnostic when I came into the program, I was desperately seeking something that could give me peace of mind & help me to stop struggling with myself. I worked at and sought to define & believe in a Higher Power that could restore me to sanity & while searching for this Higher Power I was able to find my HP. My spiritual awakening came while working on Steps 2 & 3. Many things give me faith in my HP, but my abstinence was & is the single greatest proof for me.

In step 4 working on my "searching and fearless moral inventory" I was challenged to examine and discover many things about myself. I always thought I was a loner. First of all I am single, and have had few long term relationships. Second, I have always been very independent & self-sufficient & I live on my own. Third, many times I would go on vacations myself - I would always meet people while away - but I was not uncomfortable going on my own. I really just thought I was a loner. After coming to OA I started reading & hearing about what a 'disease of isolation' compulsive overeating is. I started to think, maybe I am not a loner after all - maybe it is just the isolating nature of my illness.

Things I did to isolate myself: I had an unlisted telephone number for years, I would not answer the phone or door - if I was eating I would become very angry if someone called or dropped by. If I did answer the phone I would just about snap the person's head off - they were intruding! Often I would leave social functions early because I wanted to get to some take-out place before it closed. I would often stay home because I felt fat & then eat some more. I would always try to solve other people's problems - but, I would completely shut them out from helping with mine. If someone asked how I was doing - I would always say 'great' no matter how I felt. Sometimes when I felt the worst I would joke & laugh & generally try to be very entertaining - no one could see the pain I was in - or so I thought/hoped.

On page 46 of the OA 12 & 12 it says:

"We want to be free of resentments, guilt, and shame rooted in the past, and we realize that sharing the details of our past with another human being is an important step toward freedom. Once we take this step, we will no longer have anything to hide. This is the beginning of the end of our isolation."
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Step Five ~ Part : Questions

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
  1. In what ways has my disease isolated me from my family, friends, co-workers? How has my compulsive overeating made me feel 'alone and apart'?
  2. How do I feel about ending the isolation my disease has caused in my life?
  3. Has it been or is it difficult to ask others for help with my problems?
  4. In what ways have I been or am I dishonest with myself?
  5. In what ways have I been or am I dishonest with others?
  6. Which part of Step 5 do I think will be (or - if you have taken Step 5 was) the most difficult - is it the admission of my wrongs - to myself, my Higher Power, or another human being? Why?
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Step Five ~ Part 1

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

My name is Rhonda & I am a compulsive overeater. Thanks for all of your great shares! Loop posting is really kind of thrilling - not knowing who may read it - but knowing that it is helping us to recover & may help someone else somewhere in their recovery. So if you are hesitating about posting your answers to the questions - send them to the loop now! This is a great way to take a step towards ending your isolation.

In the OA 12 & 12 on page 46-47 it says that "a humble admission of our mistakes to God is our first step in this direction..."We go back over our fourth-step inventory, acknowledging each truth about our past behavior, no matter how painful or embarrassing. In acknowledging these wrongs to God, we begin at last to acknowledge them to ourselves, too. We admit to ourselves who we are and what we've done. As we do this, we gain new hope. We start to feel that we can be forgiven and begin life anew with a clean slate." The idea that we can do this is wonderful!

I completed my fourth-step inventory on AA forms, doing a review of my resentments, fears & sex conduct/relationships. I read the resentment prayer over each person or institution on my list & also said the fear prayer over each fear I had on my list & the earnest prayers for guidance in sex conduct/relationships.

Resentment prayer from p. 67 of the Big Book " spiritually sick. God please help me show the same tolerance, pity & patience I would cheerfully grant a sick friend."

Fear prayer from p. 68 of the Big Book "God, please remove my fear of ________ and direct my attention to what you would have me be."

Relationship/sex conduct - "Earnest" ongoing prayers p. 70 of the Big Book "Earnestly pray for the right ideal." "Earnestly pray for guidance in each questionable situation." "Earnestly pray for sanity." "Earnestly pray for the strength to do the right thing."

With each resentment, fear, & sex conduct/relationship problem I also wrote down the exact nature of my "wrongs", character defects or shortcomings in relation to the incident.

Resentments - I did not really understand this at first - I believed I had no resentments. I did not really think I was angry with anyone or holding a grudge. Then several 12 Step program people explained to me that resentments included incidents from the past that we have not let go of; that we can easily bring to mind & that cause us pain or discomfort. Ohhhhhhh, those, I certainly had some - in fact 33 of them! Fears were easy to define - I listed 17 & with relationships I listed each one and examined my responsibility in them.

While working on Steps 4 & 5 I was also asked by my sponsor to write a list of my shortcomings & detail what they did for me & to me. I will discuss this in more detail on next week's posting. I know this sounds like lots of hard work, but isn't recovery worth it? Won't it feel great to start to feel we can be forgiven & begin life anew with a clean slate?

Take care, Rhonda

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Step Five ~ Part 1: Questions

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
  1. How willing am I to admit when I am wrong or that I have shortcomings?
  2. How is holding on to resentments detrimental to my peace of mind & recovery?
  3. What does "a humble admission of our mistakes" mean to me?
  4. Do I feel God or my Higher Power can forgive me for my past mistakes? Why or Why not?
  5. Do I feel I can forgive myself for my past mistakes? Explain

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Step Five ~ Part 2

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

Hi, my name is Rhonda and I am a compulsive overeater (COE). Once again I am really enjoying & getting so much out of all of your posts. I am very grateful to the OA program and its fellowship. I constantly marvel at how much it has given to me. Last Wednesday I had gallbladder surgery and the strength I was able to tap into from my HP, OA and the fellowship got me through what would have been (before OA) a very difficult and stressful time. It was great while I was resting up to have all of your ESH to read. So, thanks!! and let's continue with our study of Step 5.

The list of shortcomings or character defects was interesting & sometimes painful to write. I pretty much feel you have to come up with them yourself. I think if you were to ask others close to you what your defects are they might have some insights - but, it might be that you are not ready to hear what they have to say right now. I believe as I work the steps and gain in strength & recovery my Higher Power reveals these things to me when I am ready to handle it. One of the reasons I believe this is I did ask someone to tell me. I spoke to my dad about it - he is in recovery with AA for 22 years. He hinted to me that he had an idea what some of my defects might be - so naturally I asked him to tell me so I could fix them right away! He told me that they would be revealed to me when I was ready to see them. Naturally this kind of ticked me off - at the time. Now I see the wisdom in doing things in HP's time not mine.

The list of shortcomings that I came up with included some of the following character defects; ego-pride, self-centred, intolerance, perfectionism, controlling, impatience, an unwillingness to ask others for help, being too hard on myself, poor financial management, trying to solve other people's problems for them, & more. It certainly did not add up to what I thought would be God's description of an ideal "instrument of his power"! I then examined each defect - when I looked at a defect like 'trying to solve other people's problems for them'; What it 'did for me' was that it made me feel superior to other's because 'I' had all the answers, it also made me feel good as I was able to help someone else, & it allowed me to avoid dealing with my own problems. What it 'did to me' was enabled me to ignore and not look at my own problems & I realized that it was very arrogant of me to assume I could solve others problems for them. In addition it probably often alienated others from me. As I continued to work the steps I realized that even if I did know the answers to someone else's problem - they may not be ready to hear the answer or they may need to struggle through it themselves for their own personal growth. Now I am not so quick to offer unsolicited advice and am careful not to be telling someone what to do - now I usually simply offer what I have found has worked for me. Now I take the time to focus on and work on solutions for my own problems.

It took me about 1 month to finish doing my Step 4 inventory & the first part of Step 5 admitting to God & myself the exact nature of my wrongs. When I felt it was complete I asked God to tell me if there was anything I was missing & I meditated over that point until I felt comfortable that what I had to share was as searching & fearless an inventory as I was capable of at the time.

Finally we come to that part which many of us may have dreaded - revealing to another human being all of our secrets, our 'dirty laundry', all those shameful & painful things we have been eating over for years. Do we fear that if we take them out and air them they can somehow harm us? I had some fears that if I revealed all of these things about myself it may be a risky time for my abstinence - thankfully that was proven to be a groundless fear.

Finally I felt I was ready to share my inventory of wrongs with another human being - now I had to decide with whom to share it with. The OA 12 & 12 says "It is important that we choose a trustworthy and understanding person with whom to complete step five. For many of us that person is the sponsor who helped us take the first four steps of the program. Others of us have found that we feel more comfortable confiding in a person other than our sponsor. Either way is the 'right' way, so long as it is right for us. We understand that if we pick a person other than our sponsor, we are not rejecting our sponsor". It also suggests we consider the following choices to listen to our fifth step: any person who is recovering in a 12 step program who has completed the fifth step in their own recovery, a therapist, or religious counselor.

I am not a member of any church & did not have a therapist; but even if I did I think the logical choice for me would still have been someone in the OA fellowship. All along while I was doing steps 1-4 I thought that I would take Step 5 with my sponsor. As it turned out I was 'ready' to take the step at a time when my sponsor was physically sick & not up to it. She suggested that I move ahead with it for the sake of my recovery & select someone else in the fellowship who was willing to listen to Step 5's. I decided on a couple of people I would feel comfortable with and called and asked my first choice if she would be willing - she graciously agreed. We set a date, we decided to do it at my home as there would be no distractions. She kept telling me beforehand that we would take as long as was necessary. I thought it might take 2-3 hours.

Before we started I disconnected the phone, got out a box of kleenex, set out my inventory & a pad of paper, & I had all my OA books at hand. We started off with her assuring me that anything I said would be kept in the strictest confidence & we held hands and said the serenity prayer together & she also prayed for guidance & asked God to let her be his instrument. One of the reasons I selected this lady to hear my fifth step is that she always struck me as very spiritual - she has a kind of light about her & a feeling of serenity surrounds her.

More on the actual sharing of the fifth step next week - mine was a marathon session - something that I had not expected!

Take care, Rhonda

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Step Five ~ Part 2: Questions

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
  1. Would a loving, understanding & caring human being forgive me for my wrongs? Why or why not?
  2. What do I consider one of my worst character defects? What does this defect 'do for me'? What does this defect 'do to me'?
  3. Who will I, or did I, select to hear my fifth step & why did I pick this person?
  4. Do I have any fear involved with sharing the exact nature of my wrong's with another human being? Explain
  5. Why do I think the 5th step involves the admission of "the exact nature of our wrongs" to another human being - why is this part of Step 5 necessary?

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Step Five ~ Part 3

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

Hi, I'm Rhonda and I am a compulsive overeater. I just want to state for the record that I can only share how I worked Step 5 & what worked for me. Each individual will work the steps their own way with the guidance of their sponsor & their Higher Power.

My first attempt to take Step 5 lasted from 12:30pm-8pm. Remember the resentments I didn't think I had any of? Well with time out for dinner, that's all we got accomplished that day! Despite "my plan" to get the job done with. Now this process was not me talking for 6 hours, there was a dialogue. My fifth step partner would shared on how she could relate to the problem I was airing & asked>

Transfer interrupted!


Now this might seem like a long time - it did to me as well! But..... when you think about it I was trying to get rid of a 36 year backlog of living problems. Many of the things I told her I had shared with friends, or with family or past significant others - but, I don't think I had ever shared all of these things about me with any one person. I was dealing with things as difficult as an attempted rape by a stranger when I was nine years old, to an old boyfriend who was incredibly verbally abusive & frightening, to resentments I held for a family member & a friend who were both deceased. Needless to say one box of kleenex was barely enough! It was very, very, draining & tiring both physically & emotionally. I felt sorry for my 5th step partner (for having to go through this 'ordeal' with me) & at the same time so grateful that this 'perfect stranger' would be so generous as to spend this time with me in order to help me recover. When we were through that night, I felt like I had lost alot of weight, like a huge burden had been lifted from me. I was glad to have it done as difficult as it was. The following morning just before I left the house for my f2f OA meeting this lovely lady called me to tell me that because of sharing my fifth step with me, she felt 'joyous' this morning that she felt so close to her God & she just wanted me to know that. Wow! At my meeting my sponsor accused me of looking pretty 'chipper', and it was true! I had a bounce in my step, I was smiling & humming & I just felt a whole lot lighter. My fifth step partner & I set a second appointment for two days later. As I was falling asleep the night before we met again, I prayed for all of my past significant others & those on my resentment list & wished them happiness & love. This was unplanned and totally spontaneous and sincere. I never would have been able to do this before. We finished the inventory on the second meeting - it took another 4 hours! Whew! What a relief! Now I am not advocating any particular way or length of time in which to do a fifth step - I can only share on my own experience. Each of us simply must do the most searching & fearless inventory we are capable of at the time. With limited dialogue and simply reading the inventory I am sure it could have been done in 1-2 hours - but I am recounting how my fifth step happened -rather than how it could have been done.

Here is what I learned from sharing my inventory with another human being.

Resentments - The resentment prayer gave me alot of comfort, when I read it and thought about each person I would realize that they were spiritually sick. I was able to accept that I was spiritually sick - so why couldn't someone else be? And if they were spiritually sick how could I blame them for things they had done? Also, what was the point in blaming myself for things which I was powerless to control due to my own spiritual sickness or disease? Many of my resentments were caused by my expectation of others to act or behave in a certain way - which is my self-centredness. Resentments were also caused by my inability to express anger - I was often dishonest in not expressing this emotion - which was unfair to others.

Fears - Half of my fears centred around the same types of things; fear of being alone, fear of failure, fear of not fulfilling my potential, fear of being dependent on anyone, fear of spiders?, etc. I started thinking about how many fears there probably were in the world - 1000? 3000?, more? Considering all the fears there were to have it wasn't so bad if I only had 10-15 fears. Also, they didn't seem that bad when I wrote them down - they had a beginning and an end.

Sexual conduct/relationships - This is what I learned from a careful examination of my past relationships. 1. Don't think that the foundation of a relationship can be built on physical attraction alone. 2. Don't be dishonest about my feelings or hide my anger because it leads to hurting someone in the end. 3. Get healthy so I can be in a healthy relationship. 4. Since I was spiritually sick I seemed to be incapable of having a healthy relationship with anyone who was spiritually healthy - I kept picking spiritually sick, incapable of emotional commitment people like myself - which just ended up causing pain for myself and them. The isolation my COE caused probably began to act as a protective mechanism for me... preventing me from experiencing and causing more pain, in more harmful relationships.

Shortcomings & character defects - Most of them have a good side and bad side to them. When I really looked at what each defect was doing to me it was not a list of attractive results, my defects made me arrogant, sabotaged my success, frustrated me, caused me stress, made me value things that were not worth it, isolated me, made me unpleasant to be around, diminished my self confidence, made me lonely, kept me in my illness, allowed me to avoid life, and made me dishonest.

Being able to face all of these things that had harmed myself & others & had kept me in my illness & prevented me from fulfilling my Higher Power's purpose for me - was working Step 5. The result was I could now move on with a fresh slate having given up resentments, turned over my fears to my higher power, become aware of my responsibility in the failure of relationships & become aware of the destructive & unattractive nature of my defects.

I had faced all of this, come through it, gave alot of it up & was willing to move on. I had one final assignment from my 5th step partner which I will share on the next posting.

Take care, Rhonda

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Step Five ~ Part 3: Questions

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
  1. How did I feel on completion of sharing my fifth step inventory with another human being? If I have not taken Step 5 how do I thing I will feel?
  2. What have I learned about the destructive nature of fear in my life?
  3. How do I deal with situations & people differently now in order to prevent the creation of resentments?
  4. What has been my biggest problem in personal relationships - the problem I cause - the one I am responsible for?
  5. After completing Step 5 I will have a 'free slate' what kind of qualities & characteristics do I now want on that slate?

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Step Five ~ Part 4

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

Hi, I'm Rhonda and I am a compulsive overeater.

Well I thought I was done with Step 5....but, noooo... I had two final assignments. My fifth step partner asked me to write out a list of the good things about me & also a gratitude list. After I had completed that I was to call her and read it out to her. This is the list that I wrote at the time.

Good things about me

  1. Loyal friend, (+ daughter, sister, & auntie)
  2. Trustworthy
  3. honest in business dealing - (integrity)
  4. honest in alot of ways - except the disease
  5. sense of humor
  6. I can love simple things & nature
  7. I love animals and they love me
  8. I am good at writing & have a vivid imagination
  9. I am positive
  10. I want the best for others
  11. I am creative at decorating
  12. I am great at negotiating
  13. I am very focused & can get alot accomplished
  14. I am driven to always try to be better
  15. I am analytical
  16. I am generally a nice person
  17. I try to help others if I can
  18. I am generous
  19. I am competent at my job
  20. I am open to change and love to learn new things
  21. I am open to new experiences & adventure
  22. I can laugh at myself
  23. (conscientious)
  24. (very willing to do what it takes)
  25. (humility)
*Items in brackets are things that my fifth step partner suggested I add.

My Gratitude List

  1. I am grateful to be alive & healthy
  2. I am grateful to have found OA
  3. I am grateful for the OA fellowship's generosity to me
  4. I am grateful to my Higher Power for his wisdom, love & generosity
  5. I am grateful for my skills at my job and that I enjoy it
  6. I am grateful for a wonderful mother & father who are 2 of my best friends
  7. I am grateful for my brother, sister, her boyfriend & my niece
  8. I am grateful for my friends
  9. I am grateful for my business mentor & coach & for what I have learned from my association with his organization
  10. I am grateful for all of my clients
  11. I am grateful for my assistant
  12. I am grateful for my condo, my car & my office which I love
  13. I am grateful that there are so many mysteries on the earth
  14. I am grateful for human spirit & kindness
  15. I am grateful for beauty
  16. I am grateful for animals
  17. I am grateful for love & romance
  18. I am grateful I am smart
  19. I am grateful I enjoy sports & do some well
  20. I am grateful for the differences in people & countries
  21. I am grateful for all of you on the WTS loop for sharing the journey to recovery!!
From the OA 12 & 12 p. 51 "Having taken step five, we are free at last. The great burden of our past mistakes has been lifted from us. We find we can face each day and each challenge as it comes."

Thanks so much for allowing me to give this service. I look forward to working the rest of the steps with you - one day at a time. I wish you all happiness, strength, love, hope, peace of mind, abstinence & recovery. Remember, every day in recovery is a great day to be alive, excited & full of energy!

Take care, Rhonda

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Step Five ~ Part 4: Questions

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
  1. From the OA 12 & 12 p. 51 "Honesty is a key factor in our recovery from compulsive eating, and so we will want to develop this trait." What are ways in which I can develop this trait with myself & others?
  2. What are the good things about me & my strengths? List them & post.
  3. What is my gratitude list? Post it.
  4. From the OA 12 & 12 p. 51-52 "Simply knowing what is wrong with us isn't always enough. Steps six through twelve will show us more actions we can take to bring about the necessary changes in our lives." How willing am I to proceed with the rest of this step study in order to secure my recovery?
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