In this article I wish to share my personal experience of the 5th step of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have only been in recovery since August 2008 and I would like to say that everything is going well so far.
My life has turned around 180 degrees, and despite only currently being at the end of my 8th step, it is all due to working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous, getting in touch with a higher power, a good home group and more importantly the best sponsor I could have ever asked for.
For me my sponsor was the absolute key to me being able to take this step. Having completed my Step 4 my sponsor suggested to me, on a Sunday evening whilst I sat in his the car, that I was to take a week to read over it again once or twice and make sure I had been completely fearless and thorough. By the following Wednesday I assured him I had checked it and checked it again, and we arranged for me to take my 5th step the next Sunday. As the days passed I began to get very anxious, but my sponsor assured me everything was going to be OK and he was sure there would be nothing in it that would shock him too much or he had not done himself. I was not too sure. Unfortunately, that Friday evening my daughter was taken very ill and was rushed into hospital so I was unable to attend my home group Friday meeting. I was sure it was an act of God to prevent me from having to go through the ordeal of having to tell another man about my fears, resentments and sexual conduct. Nevertheless Sunday morning came around and my daughter was well enough for me to be able to leave the hospital and meet up with my sponsor.
We met at lunch time in the comfort of his home and he started by making me a cup of coffee and offering me an ashtray. I’m sure he could tell I was tired, but I was also was more nervous than I have ever been in all my life. After a fine coffee and about 3 cigarettes he said “Right Ben come on through to the lounge and we we’ll get started”. He assured me that I had absolutely nothing to worry about, so I began. The resentments part came first, probably as it was the biggest, mostly about me and was also the part I most worried about. I slowly began to read them out one by one, thinking “He must think I’m nuts”. As I worked through them my sponsor questioned me once, twice or maybe even three times just to make sure I really understood the full effect of them, and he assured me everything was fine. After finishing them we moved onto my fears, and to be honest, I was completely at ease by now because of the love and kindness I had been shown by another alcoholic who had been through this himself. Before I knew it we had reached the final part, my sexual conduct. This was not the easiest thing, but again with help from a great sponsor I got through it.
We had come to the end, and my sponsor sat over the other side of the room with smile and said, “You see, I told you it wasn’t so bad”. In the past I had promised to be honest: with my wife, counsellors and family, but in true alcoholic fashion I had always held things back. But this time was different. I had finally been completely open and told some one every little last thing that had been burning up inside me and fuelling my alcoholism for many years. I was finally free. My sponsor stood up and gave me a hug, and I knew that I was going to be OK.
At this point many people talk about having an amazing spiritual awakening, some say like a flash of light. In fact I felt numb, but my whole body tingled and I knew something had changed. We had another coffee and my sponsor offered to drop me back to the hospital to see my little girl. Upon arriving back my estranged wife looked at me and smiled, my daughter looked at me and smiled and something just seemed right. A few hours later she was released from the hospital and she returned home with her Mum and I went to my Sunday meeting. Everyone was asking how I was how I felt and, after a few sleepless nights at the hospital, all I could say was “tired”. But I knew that Sunday something really good had happened to me. As the days and weeks have passed my life and sobriety have grown in so many ways. I was happy people looked happy to see me, my life has just got better and better ever since and I will never forget the day I took my step 5 as long as I live.
In my experience the most important tool I had to get me through this step with ease was the help, love, and kindness from a sponsor I am so privileged to have. So my advice if you are new is that the most important thing is to have the faith to feel you can trust your sponsor 100%, read the Big Book every day and this 5th step will be as life changing experience for you as it was for me. You too can live a happy life, joyous and free.