Hi Everyone, I am Lanaya, a compulsive overeater/alcoholic
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Wow, we sure have a lot of admitting going on in these steps. I admitted I was a coe. Then I admitted that HP was the only one who could relieve my obsession. Then I admitted how this illness shows up in my life, how I have hurt others and it is not so easy to separate the illness from me! And now I actually have to tell somebody! Oye!
Simple, but not easy.
I will not be making the translation from alcohol to food throughout, but please do so as you wish.
The 1939 Multilith copy of the Big Book starts off the chapter, Into Action, on p.33 in it and on p. 72 in the Big Book by saying,
"Having made your personal inventory, what shall you do about it? You have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with your Creator, and to discover the obstacles in your path. You have admitted certain defects; you have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; you have put your finger on the weak items in your personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out."
This really accents the focus on character defects, rather than merely a history of the expression of our character defects. My sponsor pointed out that it does not say that I am to do the casing out! However, the next sentence does say what action is necessary for our defects to be cast out.
"This requires action on your part, which, when completed, will mean that you have admitted to God , to yourself, and to another human being, the exact nature of your defects of character...............This brings us to the fifth step in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter."
This next section has very real meaning to me as I did relapse when I was originally in the program and I believe that was because I had not ever taken inventory and then done a 5th step.
"If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story."
The next paragraph fit me to a tee.
BB p. 72
"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 doesnít deserve it.
The inconsistency is made worse by the things he does on his sprees. Coming to his sense, he is revolted at certain episodes he vaguely remembers. These memories are a nightmare. He trembles to think someone might have observed him. As far as he can, he pushes these memories far inside himself. He hopes they will never see the light of day. He is under constant fear and tension-that makes for more drinking."
BB p. 73 "
We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world. Rightly and naturally, we think well before we choose the person or persons with whom to take this intimate and confidential step. Those of us belonging to a religious denomination which requires confession must, and of course, will want to go to the properly appointed authority whose duty it is to receive it."
You may choose to do your 5th step with a friend or a sponsor, but it does not have to be someone in the program.
It tells us above that we can do this with one or with multiple people! I shared some things with a therapist during one of my annual housecleanings and the rest with a sponsor. I was able to come to that decision through working step 11 while I was preparing to do step 5. I prayed and meditated. I also spoke with others.
My sponsor told me the story of a guy who followed these directions and prayed and meditated on who should hear his 5th step. A 19 year old friend came to mind. He had not expected to share this stuff with anyone let alone someone 19! Apparently it turned out wonderfully!
"When we decide who is to hear our story, we waste not time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk. We explain to our partner what we are about to do and why we have to do it. He should realize that we are engaged upon a life-and-death errand. Most people approached in this way will be glad to help; they will be honored by our confidence."
I made an appt to do my 5th step immediately after writing my 4th step and at times before so that I had a date to work toward. I did not want to risk walking around with all of those raw feelings without getting into action on finishing my house cleaning so the grace of God could enter me and expel the obsession. I had seen more than one person relapse after writing a 4th step and before they did a 5th step.
Please do not delay in making that appointment and taking action on this step. I suggest you do so this week. However, if you are unable to get that done for some reason, please continue on and work the rest of the steps.
In the AA 12 and 12 on p. 55 it says,
"AA experience has taught us we cannot live alone with our pressing problems and the character defects which cause or aggravate them."
And then on p. 56
"This practice of admitting one's defects to another person is, of course, very ancient. It has been validated in every century, and it characterizes the lives of all spiritually centered and truly religious people"
You will notice that the literature continues to refer to character defects.
And then on p. 57 it talks about the horrible loneliness we feel and how step five can remedy that. The words resonated with me and were so true in my life. I had that deep, deep loneliness that comes from not ever sharing my true authentic self.
"Psychiatrists and psychologists point out the deep need every human being has for practical insight and knowledge of his own personality flaws and for a discussion of them with an understanding and trustworthy person. So far as alcoholics are concerned, A.A. would go even further. Most of us would declare that without a fearless admission of our defects to another human being we could not stay sober. It seems plain that the grace of God will not enter to expel our destructive obsessions until we are willing to try this. What are we likely to receive from Step Five? For one thing, we shall get rid of that terrible sense of isolation we've always had. Almost without exception, alcoholics are tortured by loneliness. Even before our drinking got bad and people began to cut us off, nearly all of us suffered the feeling that we didn't quite belong."
p. 46 OA 12 and 12
"It is human nature to cling to the illusion that we have done no wrong, and through years of compulsive eating we have become experts at rationalization. How, with Godís help, we leave rationalization behind and begin to practice integrity. We face the reality of our mistakes. We see the part we ourselves have played in creating our own misfortunes, and we realize the futility of continuing to blame others for our compulsive eating and our unmanageable lives."
I have shared many deep dark secrets and heard many as well. Even those that I was most ashamed of have been shared by those in whom I confided! I was not unique. This is an important part of the 5th step. It is extremely relieving to be accepted by another and to hear what others have done. We need that feedback. We need someone to hold our hand as we go through this. I did not mention in the discussion on the 4th step, but I want to tell you that my sponsor sat with me that night and highlighted all the words in the BB and 12 and 12 and asked me the questions and then sat as I wrote. She worked with me and did not leave me on my own. That kind of sponsorship was priceless. For those I sponsor face to face, I also do that.
If it is at all possible, I recommend sharing this inventory face to face.
In the AA 12 and 12 p. 60
"Step Five was the answer. It was the beginning of true kinship with man and God. This vital Step was also the means by which we began to get the feeling that we could be forgiven, no matter what we had thought or done."
"Somehow, being alone with God doesn't seem as embarrassing as facing up to another person. Until we actually sit down and talk aloud about what we have so long hidden, our willingness to clean house is still largely theoretical. When we are honest with another person, it confirms that we have been honest with ourselves and with God."........." Even when you've found the person, it frequently takes great resolution to approach him or her. No one ought to say the A.A. program requires no willpower; here is one place you may require all you've got. Happily, though, the chances are that you will be in for a very pleasant surprise. When your mission is carefully explained, and it is seen by the recipient of your confidence how helpful he can really be, the conversation will start easily and will soon become eager. Before long, your listener may well tell a story or two about himself which will place you even more at ease. Provided you hold back nothing, your sense of relief will mount from minute to minute."
This entire chapter is powerful and if you have not had the chance to read it I suggest you do so at your earliest convenience. You can access it on line at http://www.io.com/aamen/steps.html#5
In the BB on p. 75
"Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better. Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last. Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand?"
They ask us to spend only one hour. This is the foundation of our new way of life and the arch which we walk through to that new life. It makes sense to reflect.
After I did my very first 5th step I was totally devastated. I did not complete the guide I used and all I did was cry. I did not know the person I was taking it with and indeed was afraid of him. He was a priest. He was angry at me for being late, but I had called...and he did not know that. That was a nightmare for me to be around a man who was angry at me. However, I did my best. I used all the willpower I had to go to that appointment. I will never forget it. Based on all that he asked me and that we talked about I had my first real feeling that I truly had an illness. He asked me to be honest for one minute a day. That was all I could handle!
It was 10 long years before I did another house cleaning and I was well past due. When I finished I had a big open space inside, an absence. It felt like the vastness of space. My sponsor said that we needed to get into action and we promptly went on a 12 step call...that day or maybe it was the next...and then we started my amends...in a couple of days! She was not lying when she said, "into action".
For the purposes of this study we have weeks in between each step. However, I would highly suggest that you use step 10 and 11 daily, that you put the welfare of others ahead of your own in an intentional way. I am not talking about giving what you do not have or over drafting your checking account, literally or figuratively, but I am talking about being of service. It tells me to tell that to the newcomer on my very first visit to speak with them....
"Suggest how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own."
OA 12 and 12 p. 51
"Honesty is a key factor in our recovery from compulsive eating, and so we will want to develop this trait. The best way to do so is to continue working the twelve steps. In this way we can learn how to deal with those troubling aspects of ourselves which we discovered in steps four and five."......."From this point on, we begin to leave behind the character defects which have caused us so many problems in the past."
Please read in the Big book from page 76 through the end of the chapter. Read steps 6 and 7 in both the AA 12 and 12 and in the OA 12 & 12. This will facilitate putting the steps into context.
1. Have you made an appointment to do your 5th step?
2. Why is a solitary self appraisal not adequate?
3. What might we expect to find when we bring God and another human being into the equation?
4. Where does willpower come in for this step?
The Twelve Steps
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