Step Five

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


Having spent years working on my fourth step, once completed, I was very anxious about the fifth. I wasn't fearless in my desire to get past it, yet I was raw from having written those final things down in my inventory and I needed some relief! All those things written down felt so heavy in my heart. I dreaded having to tell another human being. I knew I had admitted them to myself and I knew that I had admitted them to whatever Higher Power I had made the decision to turn my will and my life over to, but that was the easy part. Now came the real test of just how willing I really was to have recovery from my compulsive overeating. My anxiety was at an all time high and I briefly considered returning to my compulsive overeating rather than go through with it.

After a few hours of pondering these things, I wrote my sponsor an e-mail telling her that I had completed my fourth step and asked her if she would be willing to do my fifth step with me. She readily agreed and that left me with the decision of whether I felt OK about mailing her my fifth step or if I should meet with her in person to do it. She expressed that she was comfortable with it whichever way I decided but I knew immediately that I needed to choose the more difficult path. I've always looked for the easy way out of everything in my life and I knew where that had gotten me. I knew that doing my Step Five was all about finally becoming real about who I was as a person and that achieving true humility was one of the goals, so I knew that I needed to find the courage and the guts to sit across from her, look her in the eyes, and bare my soul.

I have not had a boring past by any means and there were a few things on my list that I really didn't think I could just fess up to out of the blue like this. My fear of rejection or even the thought of seeing horror or disgust in her eyes would have had a devastating effect on me, so it was essential that I kind of test the waters a bit in a safer way. So I screwed up the momentum and I took the worst two things I had ever done and I e-mailed them to her first to see what her reaction was. Whether she reacted or not I really have no way of knowing since we were at opposite ends of our computers, but she said the right things to reassure me that it wouldn't matter to her. I couldn't help but note though that she changed the location of our meeting from her home to a more public place. She said this was because of her roommate, but I suspect she was just being careful. After all, this is cyberspace and we have all heard stories about us, huh? : )

So I made the 3.5 hour drive to St. Louis to meet with the sponsor I had never actually met with before, armed with my 4th Step under my arm. There was a lot to cover so we didn't waste too much time with small talk. I pulled out my 4th and used it as a general guide to make sure I told every bad thing I could think of about myself. I held back nothing. It wasn't easy. My heart was pounding and I found myself far more emotional about it than I thought I would be. I thought I would be able to address it all in a typically male "just the facts" manner but it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. It took me about four hours to go through the entire list of defects, resentments, and fears, and another hour or so to discuss the exact nature of these wrongs.

I talked and she listened. After we were finished she gave me a long hug and reassured me that it would all be ok and we parted company. I've never seen her in person since, but she remains my sponsor to this day. She is the one person in this world who knows more about me than anybody else and that includes family members and an ex-wife. One of the things I got from this process, though, is a kind of desensitization to some of the things in my past. Now, I am able to reveal these things to others when I feel it will help them in some way. That doesn't mean I go around broadcasting my dirty laundry, but I don't live in the same kind of fear as I did in the past.

Did I get all the Big Book promised? Well, my spiritual experiences have always taken the slower, more educational route. No sudden upheavals, no blinding lights, no obviously divine interventions. However, I did feel a great relief knowing that I had really shown myself that I was willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to insure my abstinence from compulsive overeating. That my sponsor still accepted me planted that seed of faith that I really wasn't an evil person, that I was simply a flawed and imperfect human being that had made mistakes and that had suffered as the result of these mistakes.

What is the biggest gift I've received from doing my 5th? It is that having done so, I am able in one more way to be able to work with others who are suffering from this disease. It means that now I am the one listening to the fifth step of others and it is this working with them that is the foundation of my own recovery and my abstinence. Without having done my own fifth, I know I would be either back in the food or dead, or at the very least, wishing I was dead.

What was your experience with doing Step Five?


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