Step Five – The Past up in Smoke

Step Five

It was a hot summer's day in 2008, I was driving with my sponsor to Buckfast abbey. This was it – this was the pay-off for the last 6 weeks of painful soul-searching moral inventory. This was the day that I would be rocketed into the fourth dimension if I had been fearless and thorough during my step four. I was sure that I had. I didn't know if I really believed the hype surrounding step five, about it being an incredible life changing experience which would set me free and on my way to a spiritual awakening.

I just hoped it would work, I had seen it work on other people but would it work on me? It had to!

I felt much better than I had three months earlier, when I'd come to my AA home group. But I still had a little doubt about the program, or rather myself being able to do it successfully. Would it work on someone like me? Someone as who was as ill as I had been? I prayed to God it would.

So there we were, me and my sponsor pulling up into the beautiful grounds of Buckfast abbey. I wanted to do my step five somewhere spiritual and close to my higher power. I'd been there before with some members of the group and I liked it. My idea was to find a quiet part of the grounds and bear my dark secrets there. It was however, a warm sunny day during the school holidays and it was therefore busy. My sponsor said that we would have to do it in his car, so after a quick prayer in the abbey I was ready and we were in my sponsor's old escort. I'm not going to write about anything that I shared in my step five; that is between me, my sponsor and God.

I started by sharing my resentments, some were with myself, some were justified and some were not. It didn't matter either way; it was all about the last column where I looked at which defects of my character each resentment affected in me. They affected me to the extent I drank on them for years. Lust, self-centredness, arrogance and pride were my worst offenders. Every one of my defects on the list I had worked from, had been affected. I then proceed to share my sex conduct, or "conquests" as I jokingly called it. As I started sharing my dirty laundry I became short of breath and uncomfortable – was that normal? I thought to myself it couldn't be, but was it God? Was it part of the spiritual awakening? I asked my sponsor why I felt like this, he pointed out we had been in a hot car for over and hour with the windows shut.

My sponsor said that I could have a break so we then both went into the abbey to pray. After smoking a much needed fag it was back to the car to carry on. I went through my conduct, which was uncomfortable, shameful and also funny at the same time. Again I looked at my defects of character, lust, self-centredness and selfishness being the key protagonists. After that, reading out my fears (the last part of my inventory) was easy, I didn't have a great number of fears and none of them were uncomfortable to read out.

That was it – I had shared the lot, it was like a massive weight had been lifted.

I asked my sponsor if I could burn my step 4. He said not at Buckfast but I could take a picture of me pretending to burn it is in his car. As I posed for the shot holding one page alight the whole lot caught on fire, I rushed out of the car and put it out. People visiting the abbey must of thought I was mad. Me and my sponsor went into the abbey for a last prayer. I prayed for forgiveness and to be set free from self and to thank my Higher Power for everything I had in my life. On the way driving back to Plymouth I got the feeling that if I kept doing what I was doing on a daily basis I would be alright. I actually knew it had worked. The last part of my step five was to review it for an hour at home on my own, then to pray again.

My step 5 was complete, it was an incredibly painful but liberating experience. I was right – I have been alright, more than alright. Since my step 5 I have completed the remaining steps and had a spiritual awakening and on the whole life is getting better and better.

God bless.

Dan Mc,  Road to Recovery, Plymouth, Sept 2011