Step Five

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

Leader's Share and Step Questions

The principle behind this Step is INTEGRITY.

Hi again friends and hope youíre surviving this journey so far. Now we come to the scary part and I know for me that when I completed my first step four I just wanted to be rid of it in other words get it over with. I was that scared! I mean if anyone realised what I was really like theyíd probably run a mile. I had been so careful in the past to put on this mask and hide behind a facade of this perfect person who managed to run her home and work as well as study part time and get a degree cum laude. I mean I was an overachiever of note so nobody realised that inside I was really this scared child who didnít much like herself, which was probably why I had to do so much and keep so busy so that I didnít really have to face myself and all the emotions and fears that kept me stuck in the food. I also buried my grief after my stepsonís suicide as well as all the grief from the past so there was just so much Iíd hidden which I was scared to let anyone see.

As it so happened at the time of my first fifth step my sponsor at the time was going away, and so I decided to share my fifth step with a very dear friend who was a Catholic nun but who knew twelve step programs. I hadnít done my fourth step the way the Big Book describes at that time, but had merely written a long saga of my life and all the terrible things Iíd done. Itís a long time ago so I canít remember exactly what I wrote but obviously most of it must have been pretty negative, because at the end of listening to it all, she simply told me that I was still a wonderful person and that she still loved me. For me that was such a wonderful affirmation of my worth and also the unconditional love and acceptance I really needed. I know in the literature it says that if we make a mistake, weíre not that mistake but in my book I most definitely was.

The next time I did a fourth step I did it the Big Book way and boy did I find out a lot. Firstly I learned that I was angry at everyone and blamed them for my woes and of course they were the reason why I turned to food. I was filled with self pity which of course fed into my depression, and I believed that the whole world was at fault and not me. As for being able to pray for people who had harmed me like my ex husband, there was absolutely no way I thought that I ever could. I also learned that the fears crippled me and that list was really long. No wonder I didnít put myself out there or try new things because of fear of failure as it had always been easier and safer to isolate with the food.

And of course my sponsor also identified a whole lot of character defects, some of which I didnít want to own up to like self pity. And yet that was one that fed into my depression which I would then self medicate with food, so it really was a huge defect of mine. Being intolerant and critical of others was also another one because deep down I never felt good enough, so being critical and judgmental of others was a kind of defence mechanism which made me feel better, and so it went on. What I also realised was that each character defect even though it may have been destructive, was at that time a coping mechanism to get me through some really difficult times, but they donít serve me now. I had lived so long in survival mode and now I see that those character defects were just a way of helping me survive.

Today I know that as scared as I was initially to do this step and show myself as a vulnerable person to someone else; today I am so grateful that itís enabled me to become a more real person. I have even been able to show my vulnerable side to my adult kids which at first was really scary, and when I did that first with my son, he told me that he and I were very similar, something Iíd never seen before. Like me he had also put on that front of being strong and OK and seeing he always had lots of friends and girlfriends, Iíd never suspected that. Yet deep down, he was exactly the same as I was.

So today I just keep peeling away the layers of the onion and I discover more and more about myself. Hope you do too.

Read step five in the OA 12 & 12 or Chapter 6, "Into Action," from page 72 Ė 75 in the Big Book. Obviously this step is to be shared with a sponsor or person you trust but here are some questions related to the step.

1. What qualities will you look for in choosing someone to listen to your 5th step and why?
2. How long have you been living with your secrets?
3. Are you willing to be completely honest about the mistakes youíve made?
4. What do you expect to achieve from sharing your 5th step with someone?
5. Why is it important to look at both of your positive traits as well as your negative ones?
6. Have you noticed any reoccurring themes in your Step Four? For example have you picked up some character defects you have and if so what are they?
7. Are you willing to be completely honest about the mistakes youíve made? Do you think youíll be ready to forgive others harm done to you?
8. If you have already shared your 5th step, how did you feel afterwards? What did you learn from the experience?

    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.

In recovery,

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