Step 5: Telling Someone All About My Past

Step 5 of the A.A. program is:

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

This is a big one for a lot of people, and I was no exception. It took a lot of work to make that fearless and moral inventory in Step 4, and now I have to tell it to someone!?!

For me, going through Step 4 was also about admitting my past mistakes and the ways I hurt people to my Higher Power. It was through those tough conversations with myself and the Creator that I could make an inventory that was deep and true. So … admitting it to God: check. Admitting it to myself: check.

That’s why Step 5 was all about finding the courage – spirit, strength and hope – to admit the exact nature of my wrongs to another person. Another thing that made this step hard for me was that I was a very public person with a high profile in a small community.

Very fortunately, there are people all around the world willing to be a confidential person to listen to someone’s inventory. In Canada, many of them are priests, some of whom have had their own battles with addiction. There is a whole network through A.A. that helps connect with these people. So I made a journey to Edmonton, where I had an appointment to see a priest and read out my inventory, admitting the exact nature of my wrongs.

It was a pretty hard and humbling experience to read out my inventory to this man. He was respectful and supportive, for sure, but it was tough to say out loud the very many things I had done in my drinking and drugging days, to say all those mean and thoughtless and hurtful things I had done to others and to myself. I remember reading from my long inventory, my voice cracking and the pages rattling from nerves.

But I got through it, and when I did, it felt like a huge weight had been taken from my shoulders. I had faced my demons, spoken about the full extent of my personal bottom in the insane world of addiction. I did feel a huge sense of relief to have done it, to have made it through Step 5. Doing Step 5 also made it possible to start letting go of some of that stuff, since I really couldn’t change what had happened, to start taking some more – though shaky – steps forward in my recovery, and to begin to forgive myself too.

Many thanks to the network of people connected to A.A. who make the commitment to listen without judgement to those tough confessions of Step 5 in the A.A. program!

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