Step Five

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

My share on Step Five:
Integrity is the principle of Step Five. What is integrity? Do I have any? According to the Webster Dictionary on my desk, integrity is defined as this: soundness, adherence to a code of values, and completeness. Therefore, if I go ahead with Step Five, I might have soundness of mind. I will be adhering to the code of values aka The Twelve Steps and I will be complete. I like that!

No one wants to do Step Five! How can I possibly tell another human being all my dirty little secrets? Heck, I never admitted to myself that I did all of those things! Every solitary thing that I have ever done wrong was logged away into the deep, dark recesses of my brain. I kept stuffing food down my throat so I would not have to deal with such evil. Evil? I am evil? My disease of addiction had me convinced that I was an evil person capable of doing atrocities. I had to hide my evilness or someone might find out that I was not the person they thought I was. What would happen if someone knew every single secret of my wrongdoings?

I completed my first Step Four inventory the summer of 2002 and did my first ever Step Five. In doing so, someone did find out the good, the bad and the ugly of me. My first sponsor was this sweet, little old lady who was deeply religious. How was I going to tell this proper woman the things I had done wrong? Wouldn’t she faint? Would I see looks of horror on her face? Would she turn her back on me? I did not want to have to do Step Five with her but, at that point, I was willing to do it just so I could have some relief from feeling so badly. What was her response?

“We are all human beings doing the best we can under whatever circumstances life had created.”

She said this with a smile and the friendliest of eyes. My sponsor had heard ALL of me and still accepted me for who and what I was. If this sweet, little old lady could do that, then, perhaps, I could also begin to accept myself as a flawed human being.

Step Five is also about admitting to ourselves and to God the exact nature of our wrongs. How did I do this? One quiet afternoon, I sat at my desk, opened my Step Four inventory and began to recite verbally. In doing so, I was speaking for the benefit of me and speaking to my Higher Power. I wanted to formally acknowledge what I had done and why and what was behind my behavior. As I continued with the inventory I found myself relaxing and breathing deeper. My connection with my Higher Power grew more intimate and stronger. As I finished the inventory, I realized my past behavior need not rule my life anymore. That part of me was over, done with and I could move forward. I felt complete.

Who should listen to your moral inventory? Only you can make that decision. Every Step Five I have taken has been with my current sponsor, someone who has also done their own Step Five. You can use a therapist, a clergyman or another OA member as long as you feel safe with them and they can be objective. It is not a good idea to use a family member or relative as they may very well be a part of your inventory. If you have no one, then please use me. How?

There are various ways to communicate Step Fives. Face to face is the most beneficial way to share your moral inventory. The sense of intimacy, of sharing, of seeing their reactions and having a deep, long hug at the end is very healing. However, sometimes face to face is not an option. I have done a Step Five over the phone with a current sponsor who lived on the opposite side of our country. The phone can also give you that sense of intimacy, of hearing their reactions and offering a soothing voice to help heal. However, even the phone is sometimes beyond our capabilities. I have two sponsees who live on the other side of our planet from me. Face to face and phones are not an option. Instant messengers can be used and I have found them to offer me the intimacy, the reactions and the soothing healing of acceptance. But IM would take forever if your moral inventory were a long one. Email is acceptable but only as a last resort. If you have no one to share your Step Five, then you can use me as I just said. My email address is:

Step Five is a step of action. For the first time in my entire adult life, I was taking the action needed to become the person I had always wanted to be. Slowly I began to know who I was, accept what I had done, and was able to forgive myself for my past. I was healing emotionally and spiritually, and at last, I knew freedom from the pain of my past life. The healing and freedom broke down the wall of isolation between others and me as well as with my Higher Power. My relationship with God grew because I had no more to hide. I was able to be honest with myself, with others and with the God of my understanding. Ongoing honesty allows me to continue to grow in the Twelve Step program of Overeaters Anonymous.

Love in recovery,

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

The Fifth Step Prayer:
Higher Power,
My inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for Your help in admitting my wrongs to another person and to You. Assure me and be with me in this step, for without this step, I cannot progress in my recovery. With Your help, I can do this, and I will do it.

Principle of Step Five:
In Step Five, we learned integrity as we faced the truth about our defects of character. We have the integrity to show the world our true selves. No longer needing to appear to the world as perfect people, we can live more fully, having the courage to face up to our mistakes and test our strengths in the challenges of life.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous: Page 104

Study Guide:
To help comprehend the questions, please read the Step Five chapter in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Also read in the BB of AA the chapter titled Into Action, Page 72 through 75. (Fourth Edition) If you do not have a copy of the AA book, you can access one online here.

1. With whom shall I share my Step Four moral inventory? What are my reasons for this choice? What form of communication will I be using?

2. How do I feel about sharing the details of my past with another human being? My Higher Power? And admitting to myself my wrongdoings? Explain.

3. Am I willing to be completely honest about the mistakes I have made? Have I acknowledged each truth about my past behaviors no matter how painful or embarrassing? Am I willing to discuss the exact nature of my wrongs?

4. Why did I do some of the things I did? What feelings led to my actions? What did I feel afterward? What did these actions cost me?

5. In sharing my inventory with another, what did I learn about:
a. fear
b. trust
c. honesty
d. acceptance?

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