Step Five

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


Hi everybody, I'm Rose COE and your step leader for this quarter

If you've completed your fourth step, congratulations! It's a huge milestone in recovery, and you're probably eager to move on to the next steps. You've uncovered a lot of dirt and bones, and now it's time to let another human being see the whole thing, and formally give it all to God. The fifth step may seem counterintuitive to some of you. You might be thinking, "why would anyone want to see this mess? What's the point of sharing it? Isn't it enough that I've admitted to God that I've done these things? Shouldn't I just put the past behind me, and move forward?" Back to the Big Book;

"This is perhaps difficult-especially discussing our defects with another person. We think we have done well enough in admitting these things to ourselves. There is doubt about that. In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of us thought it necessary to go much further. We will be more reconciled to discussing ourselves with another person when we see good reasons why we should do so. The best reason first: If we skip this vital step we may not overcome compulsive eating. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they ate. Having persevered whit he rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning." (pp.72-73, Alcoholics Anonymous)

Some of the rationalizations I've heard for not doing the fifth step entirely are "I don't have a sponsor" and, "There's really nothing that bad, why would anyone care about this?" Or worst of all "This is so bad I can't possible tell anyone." But these are really invalid excuses. The point is not the degree to which you needed an inventory, but that it must be shared to be useful. This step is the beginning of acceptance of ourselves just as we are, and trust in god and other people. For many of us, these are totally new experiences-they were for me.

My first fifth step, like my first fourth step, was not the best way to do it. I had finished my inventory, and it had been sitting around on my desk for a while. One day, an OA friend of mine was visiting, and I said, "Hey, would you like to hear my fifth step?" and she said, "Sure, OK." So I read her my inventory, and she listened. We were both new in the program, and neither of us understood that we were undertaking something really important and special. It was sort of a Las Vegas wedding kind of fifth step. After my friend went home, I felt kind of different, but it was a long time before I realized that I actually was not finished w/ my inventory. So like my first fourth step, it kept me abstinent, and going down the right road, but it wasn't really the best way. I was going down the right road, but on a one-speed bike, while other people around me were zooming past on motorcycles. Later on, I did other fifth steps that were much more valuable, because I understood that it was a very special kind of sharing and needed to be taken seriously. When I undertook this step w/ seriousness, I began to grow closer to god's will for me. I have shared fifth steps w/ my therapists, my step study group, sponsors, and close program friends. Other possible people to share a fifth step with would include a pastor or rabbi, or any other kind of mentor.

thanks for letting me share


If you've taken this step before, what effects did you notice afterward?

If you think your inventory is too bad to share (or not bad enough) take some time to think about what your fear really is about. What do you think will happen if you share your inventory?

Do you think your fear is based in reality?

Can you make a plan to share your inventory and feel safe doing it?

thanks for letting me share

Step Four

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