Wishing you blessings in recovery as we start this week of taking another Step up in recovery! This week we are looking at Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
The principle behind Step 5 is: Integrity.
I find it interesting that this step uses the word “God” rather than “Higher Power.” I think this is especially pertinent to those who may use the OA fellowship as their Higher Power, in that this step is NOT suggesting we admit our wrongs to the entire group. I do believe this step could read “God, as we understand Him.” For those who have no belief in God, per se, I might suggest acting as if, when it comes to this step.
Each time I did Step 5, I did it mostly with my sponsor. I took my written 4th step, and basically read it to her. In the case of my last one, which I did with my online sponsor, I sent her a copy of my written answers. Now that I think about it, I never specifically mentioned God or myself. When I read my inventory to my sponsor, I trusted that God was there, hearing everything I was saying, and so, obviously, was I. Others may have had a different experience, or feel that the admission to God and ourselves is something separate from when we share with another human being. If that was the case for you, we’d love to hear about it!
When I say I did my 5th step “mostly” with my sponsor, there were a few exceptions. If I had a written resentment against my sponsor, then I shared that resentment with a different recovery friend, so as not to hurt my sponsor’s feelings. Also, at one time, I was having an issue with a character defect between inventories. I remember hearing someone speak on the 5th step and she said, “Tell SOMEONE… ANYONE… but don’t leave anything out.” She went so far as to give the extreme example of grabbing a stranger on the street to say, “I just have to tell someone that I robbed a bank once,” and then walk away. Very extreme example, but it helped me. Partly because I didn’t have anything quite so horrendous to confess, but also because it showed me the importance of not leaving anything hidden. In my case, there was something I was very ashamed of, and I had not written it down, nor shared it with my sponsor. There was a woman in our OA group who had spoken openly about her own situation, and I felt enough of a connection to go to her and speak my truth. I honestly cannot adequately put into words the sense of release after doing that.
The principle behind step 5 is integrity, but when I think about taking this step, I see a lot of other spiritual principles at work. We need honesty. We need courage. It takes humility. What about Step 5 has to do with integrity???
The word “integrity” is actually found in the OA 12 and 12, Step 5 reading on page 46. “Now, with God’s help, we lave rationalization behind and begin to practice integrity. Okay, so just what is integrity?
That’s a little broad for me, and it seems more like just another way to say “honesty.”
Okay, now that touches a nerve with me. I remember learning in rehab that anxiety is caused by our behavior not matching our thinking. If we want to lose our anxiety, we either have to change our thinking to match our behavior, or change our behavior to agree with our thinking. In other words, when we practice integrity, meaning what we say, acting in agreement with what we believe, then we lessen or even lose completely our anxiety. I want that.
This idea of acting in contradiction to our beliefs is something mentioned in the OA 12 and 12, and in the AA Big Book. Here are some examples from the readings.
“We felt that we were outsiders, and we acted out this feeling in many ways…”
“No matter how we acted however, deep down we felt alone and apart.
“More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see. He wants to enjoy a certain reputation, but knows in his heart he doesn’t deserve it.”
This really resonated with me, especially since this week I told my sponsor on more than one occasion that what goes on in my head does not match what the outside world sees. If people knew what I was really thinking sometimes, they would be shocked and appalled. Step 5, telling someone what you have done, what your resentments are, how they affected your life, what your part is, what you fear, how you have distorted sexual relations – all those things help in the process of aligning your thoughts with your behaviors.
There are practical considerations with regard to taking Step 5. I wish for each of you to have an experience as wonderful as mine with my first face-to-face sponsor. This world of the internet can become a bit impersonal, even with Skype. There really is no substitute for sitting in someone’s living room, or car, or on a park bench next to someone and spilling out all the things you have kept hidden for so long. The readings suggest people who you might trust to hear your 5th Step – your sponsor; someone from your face-to-face OA group; a therapist; a good friend; a family member; a priest, pastor or other spiritual advisor. You want to choose “someone who will keep our confidences and will listen without judging us or seeking to fix us.”
Just a couple of final thoughts from my personal meditation and reading on this step. Don’t ever stop talking to God. Our disease, and our defects love to lie to us. They will tell us that we are unworthy of love because of the things we did. Your Higher Power already knows all that you’ve done, all you are doing, and all you will do. He loves you anyway. You are worthy of love, forgiveness, growth, integrity, and abstinence. Sharing = releasing.
This week’s readings are Step 5 in the OA 12 and 12, as well as Chapter 6, Into Action, pages 72 through 75. Some questions for you to think about, and to respond to this week:
1. What does integrity mean to you personally?
2. Can you identify places in your life where your thinking and behavior don’t match? Can you share about one of those?
3. Do you see Step 5 as a vital step in overcoming compulsive overeating? Why or why not?
4. Is there a particular Step 5 experience you have had that you feel will encourage others who are approaching this step for the first time?
5. Does someone come to mind when you think about who you will ask to help you with this step?
6. Do you see any obstacles to completing this Step?
I have to thank you all again for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your guide this quarter. My personal studies and reading all of your shares has had a tremendous impact on my own recovery. I am truly grateful.
The Twelve Steps
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