The Twelve Steps in Everyday Living: Part Five

Step Five:  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

This step, the AA equivalent of the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation, is important because it is not enough to acknowledge missteps to yourself, it is essential to vocalize them aloud to another human being.

I think I may be an anomaly, but I could not wait for this step.  Once I got through the inventory, I needed to run it by someone to make sure I had done it right (and yes, I do recognize that validation is a critical issue for me).  I didn’t love admitting all my most shameful secrets to another, but having established a relationship with my sponsor, knowing that I could trust her implicitly, and, most important, knowing that she had been where I had been, made the process a lot less stressful.

What I learned from this step, recovery-wise, is that I am not alone.  I am not the Worst Person on the Face of the Earth.  And although I can’t explain it, there is something to the whole idea of unloading the burden of your secrets… it really did make me feel lighter mentally.

It was at this point in my step work that I became fully convinced of the power of this program.  Towards the end of the 3 1/2 hour session with my sponsor, she said to me, “I feel like God keeps putting something in my head.”  It would be too complicated to write out the play-by-play, but, long story short, she was able to show me patterns of my addictive behavior that I truly had never seen, I’m still flummoxed by how she put it together.  But she was absolutely correct, and that she could point it out to me, simply by my speaking aloud my 4th step inventory, convinced me that the steps work.

Step 5 is a work in progress in everyday life.  Having learned that holding it in makes the problem worse, I work very hard to unburden myself at every opportunity.  Whether it is admitting my feelings to my husband, confiding in my sponsor, sharing at a meeting, I make sure to verbalize whenever I feel bad about something.  And the magic continues… usually, by the time I am finished telling whatever it is that’s on my mind, I really do feel better!  I’m actually reading a book right now, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, and in it the main character talks about an experiment she did in her psychology class:

…these students she’d never known before, but had perhaps seen on campus, had freely told her about their breakups with their beloved high school boyfriends or girlfriends or the deaths of their mothers or even, once, the diving-accident death of a little brother.  But the words they spoke were immaterial; they didn’t know that the only aspect she was studying for the experiment was body language.  Jules watched their hands and their head movements, taking notes… They were relieved telling her about their pain, even though it didn’t actually matter how well she listened.

I guess the expression “getting it off your chest” exists for a reason.  Only by articulating problems can we really and truly release them.  For me, that is the true reward of step 5… voicing your fears, your worries, your resentments, your pain, so that you can let them go.  In the past, I had the completely opposite mindset.  My thought process was:  “this is my shit, why should I burden someone else, that would just make two of us burdened with it?”  I have since learned this is absolutely not the case.  When I carry the burden of negative thought, and I keep it to myself, it stays with me.  I can bury it, or gloss over it, pretend it doesn’t exist… but it is still with me.  And it will rear its ugly head over and over again, unless I do something about it.  The action I need to take is so simple, so basic, it almost seems too good to be true:  I need to talk about it.  By exposing it to the light of day, I take away its power.

Today’s Miracle:

My regular Friday meeting’s topic was Step 5; my husband read an insightful work-related article about honesty being the best policy, and the section of the book I read right before sitting down to write this post talks about the value of unburdening yourself… that’s a miracle!

Posted on May 10, 2013, in Twelve Steps in Everyday Living and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I very much enjoy reading your blog.

    Like

  2. Step 5 was a big one for me too – like you, I wasn’t proud of all my stuff, but I was looking forward to getting it done. And now that I have heard fifth steps, it’s quite amazing being on the other end of it. I understand what your sponsor said there – God gives me ideas and words that I wouldn’t have thought on my own. I am not a therapist, so I don’t have that kind of training and expertise, but what I do know is alcoholic thinking, and I am blessed to show others what they may be missing. As my sponsor and others in the program continue to do with me when I am asleep to something (and boy, I am asleep to many things!)

    There is something to not only unburdening, but in allowing ourselves to share with others, to open up, to trust. And I think the process of it is just as important as the letting loose of the thoughts.

    Wonderful post, as usual 🙂

    Blessings,
    Paul

    Like

  3. Another home run for me. And it’s shocking what I gleaned that I didn’t see coming. The line where you write, in parenthesis—nonetheless, “(and yes, I do recognize that validation is a critical issue for me).”

    What’s interesting to me (because I coach FT) is that I tend to notice the little details as never before. (I always thought the answers were in the obvious.) The longer I am sober the more I see the subtle-ness of my ego (the “ism”). In this particular post it was edging me to move on to the “theme” of your post (Step 5). I got this little spark to not comment because I was “off-topic”) and then today it hit me. I have to reply, that is the spirit of Step 5. That vulnerability to share with another … share the truth of how you saw/felt/ experienced “it.”

    I always feel safe over here on your blog, I want to stay true to my 12 step program, and stay true to my book and my teachings.

    Today’s Miracle:

    I see I have some work to do on “validation” and that scares me, but that’s okay. I know how to trust the process.

    xox me

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

losing anonymously

Learning to balance healthy and happy while living a full and busy life!

Oh for the love of...me

Just another 50+ woman trying to get her shit together.

Guitars and Life

Blog about life by a music obsessed middle aged recovering alcoholic from South East England

Off-Dry

I got sober. Life got big.

HealthyJen

From daily wine drinker to alcohol free living...this is my journey.

themessyjessytruth.wordpress.com/

The emotional messy stuff...

Vodka Goggles

No longer seeing the world through vodka colored glasses..

Mindfulbalance

An Irish Mindfulness Meditation Blog: Finding calm, wellness, meaning and a happier life.

viatoday

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Starting today I am on my way.

ainsobriety

Trying to ace sober living

Emotional Sobriety And Food

"... to be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety" -- living, loving & letting go.

girl gone sober.

a blog about living sober. i didn't always drink beer but when i did i drank a lot of it. stay sober my friends.

The Sober Garden

Jettisoning the heavy stuff...

The Six Year Hangover

A BLOG BY A GAY MAN GETTING SOBER IN NEW YORK CITY.

Process Not An Event

Adventures in Addiction Recovery & Cancer Survival

And Everything Afterwards

How I quit alcohol and discovered the beauty of a sober life

%d bloggers like this: