Step Five

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

Leader's Share and Step Questions


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

Principle behind this step is INTEGRITY.


Hi again friends and hope youíre surviving this journey so far. Now we come to the really scary part which is that of sharing your step four with another person in step five. I know for me that when I completed my first step four I just wanted to get it over with. I was that scared because I believed that 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 being this perfect person, who managed to run her home, as well as working and studying part time and even getting a postgraduate degree cum laude. I mean I was an overachiever of note so nobody realised that inside I was really this scared child who didnít really like or value herself. Besides being an overachiever I also managed to keep myself compulsively busy mainly so I didnít need to face myself and all the emotions and fears that kept me stuck in the food. In fact just before I found this program I was studying compulsively and of course eating compulsively to avoid feeling the grief I really should have felt after my stepsonís suicide. I was always being strong for someone else and putting their needs ahead of my own which is what I was doing at that time and being strong for my husband. In fact over the years I had done exactly that in burying my grief when my brother died so it had always been easier and in a way safer to bury myself in compulsive busyness and of course food. Now I had to come clean about all that stuff Iíd kept hidden and bare my soul about stuff I was scared to let anyone see.

It so happened that my sponsor at the time was going away when I was ready to share my first fifth step, and because I just wanted to get it over and done with, 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 Iím pretty sure that based on my low self esteem, most of it must have been pretty negative about all the terrible things Iíd done or omitted to do further reinforcing this idea of what a terrible person I was. But at the end of listening to the whole sorry tale, my friend 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 an example of the unconditional love and acceptance that I really needed. I know in the literature it says that if we make a mistake, weíre not that mistake but up to that point I really believed I was.

The next time I did a fourth and fifth 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, which of course was the reason why I turned to food. I was filled with self pity which in turn fed into my depression, and I believed that the whole world was at fault and not me. As for being able to pray for the people who had harmed me like my ex husband, there was absolutely no way I thought that I ever could. The other thing that I learned was that the fears crippled me, and so the list of fears was really long. No wonder that I didnít put myself out there or try new things because of fear of failure, because it had always been far easier and safer to isolate with the food.

In addition 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 the one that fed into my depression and 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. For years I had lived in survival mode and I can see now how those character defects were just a way of helping me survive.

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 children which at first was really scary and yet very liberating. 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.

I just recently found a quote that absolutely describes the integrity that is the principle behind this step. It reads:

ďYou are in integrity when the life you are living on the outside matches who you are on the inside.Ē

- Alan Cohen

I know for me that I am slowly beginning to match my insides with the person I portray on the outside. So today I just keep peeling away the layers of the onion and I discover more and more about myself and become more true to the real me. I 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 when 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 who have harmed 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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