Admitted to God, to our self, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
What I know about the value of the 5th step, is that talking over the things that trouble us, the relationships that baffle us, the mistakes we know we made, the hurts we have withstood, is a healing experience. The fifth step is not about being judged, it is about having a better understanding of what happened, and hopefully, acquiring some insight into any knots of resentment that have fueled our need to numb ourselves against the experience of daily life by compulsive eating.
By the time we get to doing a fifth step, especially if we are abstinent, chances are we arefinally open and able to seeing things a little differently. For myself, I came into program convinced that many of the people on my resentment list were idiots, and nasty people. By the time I was done with my fifth step, I saw many of these people as nice people who put up for a remarkably long time with my outrageous and/or irresponsible behavior.
Feeling safe with the person you are doing a 5th step with is of the utmost importance. For the most part, I have done fifth steps with sponsors that I had gotten to know beforehand. On some occasions, I did a 4th and 5th with someone I didn’t know that well. I don’t advise that, as I often came away from those experiences feeling exposed and vulnerable, and usually broke off the relationships shortly afterwards! I once arranged to have a sober nun listen to a 5th step with me. That was a year that I was having trouble trusting people. It was a lovely experience and I was glad, at last, to turn it over because I had been walking around for a long time with that 4th step hoping to find someone I could trust. I don’t advise waiting a long time between completing your 4th step, and turning it over in a 5th step.
If you’re lucky, the person you do a 5th step with will help you see your resentful experiences in a way that finally makes sense of it all. I like to use the expression “the way the world really works”, because before I got sober and abstinent, my view of how the world worked was not only unrealistic, it got me into heaps of trouble with other people. So in discussing our resentments with someone else, sometimes we learn about how life really works as well. And in that new knowledge, sometimes resentments dissolve into thin air there and then. For example, I was very angry at a previous employer for firing me. Upon closer examination, it turned out that gross insubordination was unacceptable no matter how much smarter you thought you were than your boss. New information!
I suggest that you start your 5th step experience with a prayer to HP, asking that he/she stay present and guide your conversation in the most healing way possible; to help you keep an open mind, and an open heart to any feedback that is going to help you move forward in your recovery. With that petition to God, every 5th step is the right experience for you. Begin where you are, step out in faith, do the best you can, and expect God to help.
Questions for reflection:
What qualities will I look for in choosing someone to listen to my 5th step and why?
What is my understanding of what a third party (me, God, and the person I choose) can contribute to my experience of reviewing my resentments?
How might talking over my resentments change me?
In loving service,
The Twelve Steps