Step Five

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



STEP FIVE, PART 1: Ending the isolation.

I'm Penny, a compulsive eater and food addict and your 2nd Quarter WTS leader.

Nudge time. The WTS responses have begun to dwindle; and that makes sense, considering that we are working Step 4 and 5. I cannot tell you how many experienced, long-term OA's sheepishly admit that they have never written an inventory ... they just kind of "skipped" over it. At a recent meeting, I shared that I frequently don't understand why the steps work ... I just know that they do. And I know that they need to be worked in order, from 1 to 12 (and over and over again) in order to have the effect that we want. I urge you to write your inventory, and I promise that, as difficult as it may appear, it is more difficult to maintain anything like long-term abstinence without working Step 4. I beg you to not let fear interfere with your Higher Power's best interest and highest good for you. If you are nervous, talk about it. Tell us, tell your sponsor (and I hope you all have sponsors), share it in your meetings, write about it and/or yell at God (as we understand God).

On to Step 5.

We've done our writing, we've searched our souls and our lives, and we are now being asked to open our hearts and our lives to another human being. This is no easy task, especially for those of us who have spent our lives feeling isolated and alone. Being alone might not have felt wonderful, but at least I could peacefully eat, watch TV and fantasize about the life I didn't have. I preferred isolation to risking rejection from the outside world. Step 5 comes on the heels of writing our inventories to begin the process of ending our isolation from ourselves, God and others.

At first Step 5 seems as daunting as Step 4. The fewer people who knew the "real me," the better off I was; and I truly quaked in my shoes at the thought of this step. Why do I have to tell someone else all the things I did wrong and all the misguided and unhealthy attitudes I held? I wrote about it; surely that's enough, no?

No, it's not enough. We need to admit our wrongs to God, to ourselves and another human being.

Our AA and OA literature is pretty clear on the subject of "why" Step 5:

"The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome (eating)." (AA, p. 72-73)

"We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world." (AA, p. 73-74)

"Most of us would declare that without a fearless admission of our defects to another human being we could not stay (abstinent)." (AA 12&12, p. 56)

In other words, if I want recovery and abstinence, I need to work Step 5. As nervous as I was about telling someone else my dark secrets that I believed were better left hidden, I had to admit that since the Steps had obviously worked for so many of my abstinent OA friends, if I wanted what they had, I needed to do what they did. And they had written an inventory and "given it away." So I had to do that as well.

There's a saying, "We are only as sick as our secrets." I don't want to be sick anymore.

Step 5 is pretty specific about what we are supposed to admit, "the *exact* nature of our wrongs. We have to be as exact as possible when we tell our stories. We can't get away with "I might have done." or "I was dishonest." We need to be up front: "I stole xyz because I was jealous and greedy and dishonest." Or "I gossiped about ABC because I wanted to be part of the crowd and I enjoyed the excitement and prestige that came from knowing something other people didn't know." Or "I caused chaos in this or that situation because I procrastinated; and I procrastinated because of both a need to be perfect and laziness." Or "I was jealous of DEF because I believed that I was just as good, and no one was noticing *me.*" The point is to admit out loud the root instincts and corresponding character defects/flaws that cause us to hold certain attitudes and beliefs and to act in certain ways. That's how recovery and healing begins.

Thoughts for journaling/sharing:

1. Are you an isolator? How come? Are you willing to let go of the "pleasures" of isolating?

2. When it comes to results, what do you think is the difference between being vague about what our wrongs were and being specific and exact?

3. What are your feelings about "admitting to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs?"

4. If you have done a 5th Step before, would you please tell the group about it - i.e., your feelings before and after, the response from the person to whom you gave your inventory, etc.

In Part 2 we're going to explore why we need to tell God, ourselves, and another human being.

Yours in recovery,



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