Before You Do Step Five

11483762_sThis blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Amy Margolis, MSW.

Step 5, “Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” is a biggie! It’s the step where we first expose ourselves fully. Step 4 might feel like the overwhelming step “taking a fearless and thorough moral inventory of ourselves.” but think about reading all of that baggage to another!

Before you take Step 5, keep these pointers in my mind.

1. Choose a Good Sponsor: Do not rush into this. Hang around meetings until you find a person who “has what you want.” You may need to get a sponsor quickly to ensure your sobriety, but this might not be your fit for the long haul. If you have any nagging doubt about trusting this person with your deepest darkest, it will serve you to pray, look around and be patient. If it is taking too long, ask yourself if you are procrastinating and consider reading your fourth step to a therapist or clergy.

2. Let Go of Perfectionism: Step 4 says to take a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself. So search as far back as you can remember and be thorough, but do not worry about “missing something.” Working a twelve step program is a lifetime endeavor. There will plenty of time to do another 5th step or you can catch things in your daily 10th step. Also, let go of looking good. Taking step 5 is about baring your soul to another for your recovery. Remember the person sitting across from you has gone before you and been in your same vulnerable shoes.

3. Have no Expectations: After completing step 5 some people see a burning bush, feel washed of their sins and have a whole new lease on life. Others report only feeling a little better than they did yesterday and a gradual spiritual awakening over time.

There is no right or wrong here. The point is to show up, do it and let go of the results. Trust the God, your sponsor and the program to carry you.

4. Don’t Stop Here: Many doing the fifth step for the first time feel such a sense of relief and absolution from guilt and shame, they sort of just sit there. No longer in the excruciating pain they came with, they continue to hit meetings, make a few calls but blow off doing any real continued work. This is a trap. The program has twelve steps for a reason. If you stop at step 5, you may not pick up again, but trust me you will not have a mind that is free from obsession. Nor will you rid yourself of the behaviors and character defects that contributed to the hell of your addiction.
5.You can Do it again and again: Don’t be overwhelmed by this pointer. Many with long term recovery do in fact do in-depth 5th steps again over the years. What I am referring to here is day to day sharing. Every time something comes up that is troubling for you or causes you resentment or shame, you can Step 5 it. You can call your sponsor or a fellow, talk it out, and turn it over. You never have to be alone again with the icky scary feelings.

Shame is at the core of any addiction. Shame thrives in secrecy, but cannot survive in unconditional love. Step 5 is the perfect antidote to shame. This is why Step 5 is so powerful and essential to your recovery!

Elana Clark-Faler
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