Step Five

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

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Step Five Essay

If you have not done Step Four, get with the program. Excuses will not work. All you have to lose is your chain to the refrigerator. You may note that when Step Four goes up, there is an increase of mail from people who are suddenly more concerned with following the rules then getting the work done. Not you? Good.

And to those who have posted, thank you. Every posting I saw was right on with what I had hoped would happen. There were so many remarks about the liberating nature of the Step. People speak of burdens being lifted, of feeling "clean," and so on. It is this kind of experience that I believe helps us all in the sharing of it. Step Four is the beginning of a process that can render our souls invulnerable to the troubles and turmoils of life, so that we may come to feel strong and supported without need of the protection of the box. Our Higher Power is able to protect and defend us from all enemies domestic and foreign, and now we are to discover that particular reality.

Now, Step Four asks us to make a list, but it is Step Five that begins to ask us to do things with it. The admission of the exact nature of our wrongs, character defects, resentments, whatever we're calling them, is not quite the problem.

There are two problems. One is developing trust. The other is the end of keeping secrets.

I have to admit to God, myself, and another person. Three from whom I have previously withheld trust. Now, I know that God is supposed to know everything, but heretofore in my life it seemed to me that God either didn't have time to notice such a worm as I, or wouldn't notice me if I said nothing. It was good not to be noticed by God. Sometimes this merely confirmed my hope that there might not be such a person, or that I didn't need to be concerned with deity. Sometimes I feared that notice might result in retribution. Being noticed in my life was not always a very good thing to have happen.

The idea that God would be interested in me and in my list was a new one to me. Stranger still was the underlying notion in the steps (Six and Seven) yet to come that my Higher Power was in fact interested in collaborating with me to bring about some really healthy changes. Not pinch my head off. This required of me that I have trust.

Then came myself. The addict's living room is occupied, as we all know, by a large white elephant. The existence of this elephant in the living room is, however, totally denied. And no questions or remarks on the subject are to be raised. Keeping secrets is the key ingredient in my own process of denial. Now I am asked to believe that I am trustworthy enough to bear the truth of my own reality, and that nothing worse will happen than that I may free up a lot of living room space. (Double entendre intended.) There are some ways in which I am my own worst enemy, and therefore have the most to fear from myself. But the Step asks me to trust another reality: That I can be trusted with the truth that my defects of character are not really all there is to me, and that what there is of me is so much more than these filthy little secrets I've been trying to hang on to in my complex system of lies and denial. My box may be found to be more illusion than reality. Imagine, being in a prison that existed only in my own diseased mind! The changes are breath taking. But the big ESH (Experience, Strength, and Hope), the group consciousness of recovering lost souls, tells me that I can trust myself.

But finally, I must deal with some other person. Who is not specified. I noticed first in myself and later in others who shared their Inventory with me, that there was some nervousness at the start. Like a cat on a hot tin roof. Somewhere in the process there came a trust that so far from the sky falling, there was in all this a rebirth of a naivete in which trust became a central building block. As a child out to be able to believe that the nurturing adults will nurture and will at the least do no harm (haha), so now I was being given an opportunity to come back to that place and live the experience again in the way HP had intended it to be. With trust well placed and honored. I could trust another human being. You were worthy, too.

So go now, and take your sordid little lists, and tell God, yourself and another person the exact nature of your wrongs. I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon, a rendezvous with my own white elephant story, if you will. Not the first, now. Trust has grown. But I hope that before this week is out, you will have made your appointment with someone, and lived to tell the tale.

Sponsor, therapist, clergy, friend, or stranger; one Higher Power, and me.

Then tell us about the experience -- again, not the list itself, but what admitting everything was like. This is the real ESH.

Love, John,
Step Leader WTS 2001 Study


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