I realize that if I did not attend a regular meeting that focused on the Steps, I would not forget what each was but certainly I would not remember everything that particular step encompasses. Year after year we read the same words from the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”. We read and discuss one step per month. You would think that after a few years of repeating the steps we would have exhausted everything and yet most of us will read something we feel we have never read before and our perspective on each step changes as we enjoy another year of sobriety. For those who have not been able to stay sober, they find even more revelation(s) in a step they may have forgotten.
Since I have been writing this weekly article for a number of years, I have also written about each step more than once. Time doesn’t stand still and I always hope that my perspective about any step changes and matures as the years go by. But at times the step is what it is and so if I repeat something I have written in the past I must feel it is important.
Step Five. Can we talk about Five without mentioning Four? Yes and no. So let me begin with a few questions. If you did not know anything about Step Five, if you did not know you would have to confide in another human being, would your Step Four be different? Would you be more open? Or would you not take it as seriously?
The Twelve and Twelve tells us that there are things we want to take with us to the grave. For most of us that isn’t new. We suffered from a disease that changed the very core of our existence in negative ways. There is no doubt that each of us had a number of things that are embarrassing, to say the least. So is it admitting our defects and revisiting our past that bothers us or is it the fact that we have to tell someone else?
My experience with Step Five began long before I even began Step Four. I believe this is important to share because I can’t help but wonder if what I experienced isn’t what others experience and could keep them from moving forward. As I was preparing Step Four, all I could think about was the person I was to confide in when I did Step Five. It was my sponsor. The problem was I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell my sponsor. She was a good woman but I had a trust issue. There was something about her that didn’t make me 100% comfortable and believe me, if I were going to pour out my heart and soul to someone, I had better be comfortable.
There was a resentment that I built around this person and so I knew in order to stay sober, I needed to change sponsors. When I did, I was able to work Step Four and couldn’t wait to work Step Five probably to get it over with! And would I have rather just talked to God? No. I know it sounds crazy but I believe I was much more honest with a person. Admitting to God is hard but I think I would have left a lot out because my thinking would be, “He already knows this stuff.” The act of writing and speaking is invaluable. The guidance of a sponsor is equally invaluable. The sponsor truly isn’t interested in what a sponsee did. It is their role to help the sponsee see a pattern of decisions and defects and the result. The sponsor also helps the sponsee to dig deeper into the resentment to find the most important element of Step Four and that is “What was your part?”
I heard over and over again that if someone in recovery did not work Steps Four and Five (both of them), they had more of a chance to relapse. I don’t know if this is true but I will say that so often in meetings I do hear those who relapse talk about how they didn’t complete these two steps or how they believe they did not do them in honesty. I only know that I wasn’t going to take any chances. I think I would have jumped off a bridge if someone told me it would keep me sober.
Once Step Five is over (mine took over eight hours but thankfully not all in one day), there are occasions when we all think of something that we forgot. Usually these are not major incidences but something small that crops up for whatever reason. They aren’t really new either. It is something that follows the exact pattern of behavior you identified in Step Five but the players or surroundings are different. My advice is don’t freak out about it. Unless it truly bothers you, I would just chalk it up to the fact that more is always revealed to us. If it is something that you can’t get over, then by all means talk to your sponsor.
My alcoholic life was fragmented. It was secret. No one and I mean not one single person knew everything about me and I wanted it that way. I never confided in anyone and if I did, it would only be a piece of the story. It was because of this that I found Step Five to be the turning point in my recovery. For the first time I was able to tell someone everything I had ever done in my life. And you know what? I’m still alive!
If you have already taken Step Five once or many times, I know you understand. If you have postponed this Step or perhaps you are just ready to work it for the first time, please do not delay any longer. You can find a million reasons not to admit your wrongs to another person. But all you need is one good reason to do so. Sobriety!
Namaste’. May your walk your journey in peace and harmony.
"Like" Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of "The Intervention Book" in print, e-book, and audio