STEP FIVE, PART 1: Ending the isolation.
I'm Penny, a compulsive eater and food addict and your 2nd Quarter
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
"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
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,