The principle behind Step Five is INTEGRITY
Hello, everyone, Susan here, still on this path to Recovery with all of you. Thank you for all the work that has been coming in on Step Four, and I hope you'll continue to work with your sponsor for as long as it takes (though don't take TOO long -- your sponsor can explain why). Some find Step 4 to take a bit longer, so don’t worry if you fall behind a little bit. Just keep working at your and your sponsor's pace, and you'll soon have all the Steps done!
Ok, on to Step Five. Step Five....Hoo boy. Now that I've written my unbelievable Step Four inventory [gulp], I'm now supposed to share it with my Higher Power, myself *and* another human being. OMG! Another human being??? Right out loud and everything??? Eeeeek! Could this be the time I start running for the hills? Maybe....... But I would urge anyone who's tempted to quit now, not to. Why? Because I faced that same challenge myself. Not only *can* this be done, but it *must* be done. The AABB is very clear about that. If I don't clean up my mess, I'm absolutely destined to eat compulsively again. [My ability to become humble determines my ability to find Recovery and freedom from food's compulsion.] Sharing my lists with another human being requires humility. [Not humiliation, but humility. There's a huge difference, right?]
Why must I share my inventory…? Remember that slogan? "You're only as sick as your secrets." For me, this means that if I continue to deny or hide, I'm saying I can run my own life, and I'm basically stuffing my feelings and “admitting” that I’m filled with shame. And when I live in self-will or shame, I'm going to need to "self-medicate" to deal with the emotions that develop. And what do I "self-medicate" with? Sweets and excess food. And where does that lead? It leads me right back to my compulsive eating and my unmanageable life. Well, I think I've come too far in this program to turn back now. [Slogan from last time: "Face your stuff or you'll stuff your face."]
So how do I psyche myself out to share this with another person? Well, first of all, the Step says I'm to share it with my HP, myself, and another person -- and I notice it says HP first. I sort of didn't notice that the first time I read it -- I was focused like a laser beam on the notion of sharing it with ANOTHER PERSON!!! But sharing it with HP *first* is important.
My first thought was: "Why do I have to 'share' my inventory with my HP? Surely he already KNOWS my Fourth Step inventory -- he knows everything! Sharing it with him is redundant!" But I think it's an important part of the Step because it keeps me "in contact" with that "Power greater than myself" -- the one in whose care I lay my actions (life) and my thoughts (will) -- the one who can do for me what I could NEVER do for myself -- so this is one important entity for me! He's the one who helps guide me in "the next right thing" for all of my affairs (not just my food anymore, as I've learned).
So actually sitting down and sharing my 4th Step *with* my HP is beneficial for me. I used that time to share it with myself, as well. As I "shared with my HP," I was sharing it with me! I read and re-read. I read some of it out loud! I "listened" to all I had written. And lo and behold, it makes it so much easier for the next part: sharing it with another human being. [For me, sharing it with my HP was like praying -- praying for the courage and integrity that I would need; praying for the right attitude to get me out of the fear.]
My "human being" was my sponsor. She was just the natural choice for me, but as the AABB says, it can be anyone, as long as it's someone who would handle it appropriately. Was I nervous to share with her? Absolutely. Is everyone nervous? No. Some people are Ok about it. It really doesn’t matter if we are fearful or confident, we do it anyway. Some people are a wee bit nervous. But they do it anyway. Some people are very nervous. But they do it anyway. And yes, some people are so "ready" that they have no fear, no nervousness, they can't WAIT to share it! And they do it, too! Of course it's easy to see how the non-nervous ones "just do it," So why do the scared ones do it...?
Well, I'm talking about the people for whom the "Promises of the 12 Steps" have come true. These are people who have discovered "THE SOLUTION." These are people who are "in Recovery," and no longer "in the disease." Remember the slogan: "If you want what we have (Recovery, serenity, sanity), you'll do what we did”? And what did we all do? We shared our Step Four inventory with our HP, ourselves, and another human being. AND WE ALL LIVED THRU IT!!! :-)
What's really cool about sponsors is that they've BEEN THERE and DONE THAT. They know *exactly* how I feel because they felt it too. Trust me, sponsors have heard 4th Step inventories that mention murder, embezzlement, felonies, child abuse, abortions, bank robberies, wife beating, lying, cheating, stealing... They've also heard every disgusting thing a person can do with food (or alcohol or drugs). From 1935 to 2015, they have heard it ALL! There's nothing you can say to your sponsor that hasn't been said by another addict somewhere, sometime. And most sponsors end up saying something like, "Yeah, I did that too." They're caring, compassionate and non-judgmental *because* they've been in our shoes.
Folks who have already done a Step Five will tell you to "just do it." But I've also heard addicts say, "I dragged it out and avoided it for months, and I wish I had just done it sooner." Or they'll say, "The first time thru, I couldn't bring myself to do it, so I stayed in my addiction for another 10 years." The AABB isn't kidding when it says that we *will* eat compulsively again if we aren't willing to do this Step; so we'd better just do it. It’s our most obvious practice of HUMILITY. We become humble in a way we’ve probably never been before in our lives. And this humbling of self is key.
I did my Step Five when I was traveling. I brought my Step Four inventory with me, and there in my hotel room, I sat on the bed and called my sponsor. I went thru my inventory, withholding nothing -- yes, sharing even the squirmy parts -- and even though I was a tad nervous, I just kept going. My sponsor was encouraging and gentle and a great listener. She made it easier than I thought it would be. I didn't have a *huge* aftereffect, but I did feel a whole lot lighter! And I smiled a lot. :-)
The principle behind our previous Step (4) was COURAGE. It took courage for us to look at our behavior over a lifetime, and then to write it down and get it out of us. We've shown we have COURAGE. Now the principle behind Step Five is INTEGRITY. What is that? You can look up the definition, but one of the definitions is, "the state of being whole." The AABB is reminding us that "half measures avail us nothing." NOTHING. We don’t get "half recovery;” we get *NO* recovery. In order for us to become "whole" again, we have to finish what we started in Step Four by *humbly* doing Step Five.
One of the “worst” things I shared with my sponsor had to do with my being a mother. Motherhood was not easy for me. In fact, I didn’t care for it very much. My other mother friends would say things like, “Oooh, it’s moments like this that make it all worthwhile,” and I would think, “No! NOTHING makes this all worthwhile!” I felt like a disgusting freak. They were warm-blooded, and I must have had ice in my veins. I viewed my baby as a big fat inconvenience to MY life.
My baby would wake up crying around 7:30 every morning — it was clockwork! You could set your alarm by her wake-up pattern. One day I woke up just before noon, and realized that she hadn’t awakened me at 7:30! The house was absolutely quiet. My first thought — my very first thought — was, “Ahhh, it’s finally over.” It was total relief! I had assumed my baby died overnight, and now *MY INCONVENIENT MISERABLE MOTHERHOOD LIFE* was over! What a relief!” Wait…..what…..? Did I really think that? Ew! Yes, I did really think that.
I crept into my baby’s room, and there she was — sitting up, cooing, playing happily with her crib toys. Was I relieved? No, I was not. “Damn. It’s not over.” That was followed very quickly by the blackest crash of depression I’d ever known. I had to be the most disgusting “mother” on the planet. No other mother in the history of the world could have felt like that. Ever. Suicidal thoughts flooded me. I spent the next 8 years in a postpartum depression that had begun the day my baby was born. I was miserable. And I thought I was alone in the universe.
And yet…I was able to write about this in my Step 4, and then I shared it in my Step 5. [I can now see that I wasn’t “disgusting,” I was quite sick (postpartum-sick and soul-sick).] Motherhood was rough for me because I was the living embodiment of SELF-WILL RUN RIOT. When we are spiritually bankrupt, we are capable of some awful behavior — *BUT* — we get to share these “secrets,” and we get to heal. I no longer feel one bit of shame about my motherhood. “When we know better, we do better.
Before we get to the ASSIGNMENT, here is the Step Five Prayer, and it's another prayer that should be read *BEFORE* you do your Step work.
STEP FIVE PRAYER
My inventory has shown me who I am,
yet I ask for your help
in admitting my wrongs to YOU and to another person.
Assure me and be with me in this Step,
for without this Step, I cannot progress in my recovery.
A. Read part of Chapter 6, "Into Action," from page 72 thru the second full paragraph on page 75.
Share your answers to the following questions:
1. This reading is telling us that our defects will ruin our progress. Why do our character defects (CD's) get in our way when we're trying to find recovery? What do they block?
2. In the second paragraph of this chapter, they say there are good reasons to share our inventory with another person. Then they give the "best reason." What is the "best" reason?
3. This reading says we lead "a double life;" that we're like "actors." In what ways were you living a "double life" with your CE? How were you "an actor"?
4. Sharing our Step Five is called, "a life-and death errand." Do you believe it is aptly named? Why is this going to be a life-or-death situation for you?
5. The reading says we must "pocket our pride," revealing "every dark cranny of the past." How do you feel about doing that? What do you *think* you'll get if you do it? What do you think you'll get if you *don't* do it?
6. Have you done something in your past that you truly think no other human being has ever done since the beginning of Mankind? [You don’t have to tell us what it is, just “yes” or “no.”]
B. 1. Share your Step Four inventory with your sponsor or another appropriate person. This is you taking Step Five! Yay! :-)
2.) AFTER you have shared Step Five with your HP, yourself, and your sponsor, answer the following questions, and share them with the loop.
a. Read the last full paragraph on page 75. Do what the first sentence says -- sit in a quiet place for an hour and think about what has just happened. Now, tell us how you feel.
b. Do what the next sentence says: Thank your higher power, as it suggests. How does that feel?
c. Answer the remaining questions (there are 4 of them) in that last paragraph.
C. Congratulations, you have completed the first 5 Steps in the 12 Steps for CE’s!!
:-) But the title of this chapter is "INTO ACTION," and that's how we're going to continue! There's a great slogan that says, "You can't think your way into right action; you must act your way into right thinking." How does this slogan relate to Steps Two, Three and Five?
D. Here are some Promises of Step Five:
• Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted.
• We can look the world in the eye.
• We can be alone at perfect peaces and ease.
• Our fears fall from us.
• We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator [HP/power/etc./whatever you have named it.]
• We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience.
• The feeling that the [food] problem has disappeared will often come strongly.
• We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.
Questions on the Promises:
1. After you have taken Step Five with your sponsor, share with us which Promises have come true or are coming true for you.
2. The first promise says, "withholding nothing." Did you withhold anything??? [You don't have to say what it was, just yes or no.] If you did, would you consider going back to share it so you can say, "I withheld nothing"?
I look forward to your shares, and for continuing our journey!
Be sure to send private messages to individual(s) only, not to the whole loop.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to write me on- or off-loop. Just put "Question for Leader" in your subject line.
The Twelve Steps
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