Step Five

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


I'll start with a quote from the AA 12 x 12.

"All of AA's Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural desires . . . they all ask us to deflate our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few steps are harder to take than Five. But scarcely any step is more necessary to longtime sobriety and peace of mind than this one."

The OA 12 x 12 concentrates on the isolation from other people that is the result of eating compulsively. We feel like outsiders to most of life.

By the time my disease had me in a position where I was willing to look for help, I was totally alone with my food. As I talked about last week, I had stuffed so many things down with food, I no longer knew what was there. I sometimes acted as if I knew it all because I was afraid I knew nothing. I acted as if I was better than others because I was afraid I had no value at all. Does that sound like I needed an ego reduction? At the same time, my ego was telling me I could do it by myself -- I didn't need OA -- I didn't need to put down the food.

The part that meant the most to me in the literature though was in the OA 12 x 12. As I said last week, my first 5th Step was fairly early in my program and the result was not very satisfying. Then the book Twelve Steps of OA" was published. I read in there the suggestion that I find a trusted person and let that person know everything about me. All my warts, my faults, my ugly defects. Then trust that the person I have chosen will still love and accept me. "In talking honestly with another person about ourselves, we begin to feel a sense of relief. Someone knows all about us and still accepts us unconditionally." When I read that phrase, I began to see the benefit of doing a fearless and thorough inventory and then to share it with a trusted person.

The first time I did it because I was supposed to do it -- the 2nd time I did it as an important step in learning to love and accept myself.

You see, it was ok for others to make mistakes -- mistakes happen, right?!! But if I made a mistake, I beat myself up so badly. I just wanted to cover it up. So here I was to tell someone all about them -- uncover them -- and then just be a human.

The AA 12 x 12 gives this definition of the humility we are given as a result of this step: "a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be."

It's interesting that the step starts with telling God. I needed God to show me my defects and then the first person I have to tell is God? And myself? Obviously I made the list, so why is it worded that way? Perhaps it is worded that way as a reminder that when we sit down with that trusted friend, God will be our witness.

The AA 12 x 12 says "This feeling of being at one with God and man, this emerging from isolation through the open and honest sharing of our terrible burdon of guilt, brings us to a resting place where we may prepare ourselves for the following Steps toward a full and meaningfull sobriety."

For some people confession is a part of their religion. Does this exempt them from the 5th Step? In the OA book, "Abstinence" a Jesuit priest talks about thinking he was exempt. He also didn't really recover until he took the 4th and 5th Steps with another person.

The Big Book spends some time in giving helpful suggestions in finding a person to listen to your 5th Step. In fact, it's at the beginning of the chapter "Into Action." It says you can choose a person in your religion, a doctor or psychologist. It suggests we not use someone from our family, although I know someone who did give her 5th Step to her husband. Any of these are good options. If you are attending a guided 4th and 5th Step workshop, they will give you a list of 5th Step listeners. You can choose someone you've never seen before, as I did for my first one.

But it really does heal a part of you to choose someone who WILL be seeing you after the 5th Step. I did choose someone from one of my OA meetings. When I read the chapter in the OA 12 x 12 for the first time, her face came into my mind and I knew I would ask her. Instead of her turning her back on me after hearing of my defects, we became more close. I was given the unconditional acceptance that I craved.


1. Now that you have finished your 4th Step Inventory, are you considering holding back some things that are just too bad to tell anyone?

2. Did you find a need for ego-reduction in your inventory?

3. Do you identify with the isolation talked about in the literature?

4. Do you understand the program use of the word "humility" and know that it is not humiliation? Explain.

5. Why do you think the step tells us to confess to "God, to ourselves and to another human being"?

6. Have you previously done a 5th Step? If so, how did you choose the listener? What were the results?

7. Have you finished your 4th Step, but not yet done a 5th Step? Why?

8. Can you see the benefits of doing this step?

9. Anthing you'd like to add to a discussion of the 5th Step?

Step Four

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