Step Five

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

STEP FIVE, PART 2: God, ourselves and someone else.

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

At first I didn't understand how one admitted one's wrongs to *God.* Were we supposed to say the things out loud? Did writing them down count? I soon learned that the form with which I went to God didn't really matter as long as I was aware that God was part of the equation. Just as Step 4 is impossible without Steps 2 and 3, so is Step 5. God is integral to the process. For the first time in my life I "looked" at God "face to face," and knew that there were nothing I couldn't tell God about myself. It's not that God didn't know all about me, mind you; it's just that I knew that God knew - and that God still loved and cared about me. Step 5 taught me that I could go to God with anything. Being so up front with God gave God the chance to work Step 2, as God began to restore me to sanity, and Step 3, as God began to care for my life as well. "We willingly open our hearts so that a life-changing power can come in and heal us." (OA 12&12, p. 46)

I have to open up to God completely so that God can heal and cleanse me. If I believe that God - or HP - is the Source of all goodness and the Source of my highest good, then I also believe that behaving in destructive ways and holding destructive beliefs and attitudes is going against God's will - and I need to acknowledge this to God as well. For example, my 20-year grudge holding against my voice teacher not only harmed me; it also harmed my relationship with God because it was preventing me from being open to God's will.

Additionally, opening myself up to God also gave me the courage to open myself to the third part of the equation: another human being. I didn't need to "be afraid to admit anything to God and to another person, under God's guidance." (For Today, p. 308)

That concept scared the daylights out of me. I was sure that the person at the receiving end of my inventory would hate me and be repulsed by the things I had done. I read my inventory and saw the misery I had inflicted on other people (not to mention myself). I was full of guilt, shame and remorse. Wouldn't telling someone how bad I was "simply humiliate (me) and further lower (my) already low self- esteem?" (OA 12&12, p. 47) On the contrary. Other OA's told me that I would be "humbled without being humiliated." (OA 12&12, p. 47) They told me - and I found it to be true - than an objective person could rein in my over-active guilt mechanism and help me gain perspective on my wrongs. I was still "inexperienced in establishing contact with a Power greater than (myself)," (AA 12&12, p. 60), and I would greatly benefit from someone who could offer an objective viewpoint.

The difficulty I experienced was that I had spent most of my life hiding from other people, praying that no one would ever discover the real me. I had "yes'd" my way into obesity and misery, and I *was* miserable. Step 5 to the rescue. "...if we have come to know how wrong thinking and action have hurt us and others, then the need to quit living by ourselves with those tormenting ghosts of yesterday gets more urgent than ever. We have to talk to somebody about them." (AA 12&12, p. 55) I was literally bursting at the seams with the need to purge my soul. Other OA's told me that I was "only as sick as my secrets." They told me about their own fears, courage and success at Step 5.

(An aside: I remember chuckling ... here were all these people, myself included, who truly believed that they were uniquely the worst; the irony amused me.)

The bottom line was that by speaking to another human being, in addition to God, I could "finally begin to know (myself) and accept (myself). Nothing in (me) can be changed until (I) first accept it. Step 5, by helping (me) to know and accept (myself) makes it possible for (me) to change and recover." (OA 12&12, p. 48)

Who was going to listen to my 5th Step? All of my 5th Steps have been given to my sponsors. I will say that part of my most recent 5th Step was given to my therapist with my sponsor's blessing because there are sometimes issues that need professional care. We can choose a therapist, a sponsor, a clergy person, a doctor. It doesn't really matter as long as we believe that the person we choose understands his/her job in this process - to be a sounding board, to offer commentary and perspective, to listen. The Big Book suggests that the person should probably not be a family member. Not only do they usually lack the objectivity to listen, but also they may be involved or know someone mentioned in your inventory. One of the most healing gifts of OA has been my new-found ability to take responsibility for myself without deliberately harming someone else. By giving a 5th Step to an albeit loving and supportive family member, we run the risk of hurting them or others, and we aren't allowed to do that.

My first 5th Step was given to my sponsor ... and it was then that I learned from personal experience that there are *3* ways to mess up a 4th and 5th Step. The first way is to not do them at all. The second way is to work Steps 4 and 5 while you are still actively compulsively eating because the opportunity to heal backfires from the remorse, guilt and anxiety of overeating. The *third* way to mess up a 4th and 5th step is to not write your own inventory for yourself, but rather write it geared at what you want your sponsor to hear. My first sponsor was a man, a bit controlling (well, aren't we all? LOL), and I wanted to impress him with my illness and wickedness. Bad move. Write your inventory for *yourself.*

Thoughts for journaling/sharing:

1. What are your thoughts and feelings about opening up to another human being?

2. How do you see yourself admitting your wrongs to God?

3. If you have previously admitted the exact nature of your wrongs to another human being, please tell us about that experience.

4. Make a list of the attributes you want in the person who will listen to your 5th Step.

5. Start looking for a trusted person to who you can give your 5th Step. The actual giving away is coming at the end of my next post.

Yours in recovery,



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