Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
When I first read step 5, I was 5 days sober trying to just make it to the end of the meeting without leaving and running to the off license. It seemed so monumental that I couldn’t understand what was being asked of me. What did it mean, how did I do that, what wrongs? I wasn’t wrong, the rest of the world was wrong. So many questions, and no clue how to find the answers
Then swoops in a sponsor! The blessing of the way the steps are written is that step 5 is 5th for a reason. If I had embarked on step five when I first it back at 5 days sober it wouldn’t have worked. By the time my sponsor had guided me to step 5 I had my first experiences of a higher power in my life, I had got into the habit of completing my daily suggestions and I had made my inventory, fearlessly and thoroughly I had examined myself and with the guidance of my sponsor, I felt the inventory was complete.
I was now read to undertake step 5! The Big Book discusses the need to tale this vital step with someone who can keep our confidence. Looking back on my step 5 experience, I realise now that everything I had done up until that point was enabling my trust in my sponsor to grow. Being in open communications with her, taking the third step, her guidance throughout my step 4 experience had led me to a place where I didn’t have to question my trust and I felt comfortable sharing these things with her. That statement is so incredible! Some of the things I comfortably shared with my sponsor were things I felt I couldn’t tell anyone, things I felt would push me to the edges of society and would land me in rejection. So, to feel comfortable (if not a bit embarrassed at times) was a revelation I never expected.
The actual process of reading out my step 4 inventory to my sponsor under the presence of God was very practical for me. I sat with my sponsor on a beach picnic table and read her those 4 columns, as laid out in the Big Book, and as I read, I felt more and more relaxed. Of course, there were those resentments, fears, sexual conduct which I felt were more embarrassing or I felt shame around. However, the incredible thing about the way alcoholics inherently understand each other is that while I was reading out these ‘awful’ things, things that I had done that had followed me around like a cloud for years, my sponsor started to laugh. I was naturally horrified at her finding humour in these horrific things, but she just told me that she had done the same things, she had similar resentments, similar fears, similar experiences. She identified with my madness! She told me that I was just a bulk standard alcoholic, I wasn’t a bad person. I had just been an alcoholic running around with no programme.
Once I’d finished reading out my inventory, my sponsor advised me on having an hour or two to quietly reflect on everything that I’d done so far, just as it says in the basic text. That couple of hours, were probably the most peaceful hours I’d had for so many years. The idea that someone else in the world knew all the ins and outs of my mind and hadn’t turned their back on me, was so profound that I only really see its importance now. With that step my trust and relationship with my sponsor was cemented in place, knowing I’d never need to hold back feelings, giving me the firm ability to be as honest with her as I need to be to continue living in this incredible programme.
Caitlin, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth, April 2020