The fifth step of AA says, "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
By the time the fourth step is completed, I was at a crossroads. It would be my final chance to run away and forget about recovery, or use the tools I now had at my disposal and plunge into a new world.
I had built a foundation with the first three steps and by surrendering I had found a relationship with a Higher Power, whom I choose to call God. It was through this relationship that I found the strength to honestly do step four.
But now I needed to go one step further. I had to admit my wrongs to another human being. For the first time in my life I would have to be totally honest with someone else. No stories, no games, and no excuses. The purpose of step five would be to admit to my wrongs and only my wrongs.
If I completed this step it would be the death of my alcoholic lifestyle. The secrets would be exposed and the power they had – gone! It could only be accomplished because of my trust in God. And with that trust, He would guide me to a human being who would listen to my story.
It would be an opportunity for me to unload the negative aspects of my moral inventory and to release myself from the nagging feelings of guilt that were stuck to me for such a long time.
I didn’t jump into this step half-heartily. I looked at my new relationships with many different people. I considered my AA sponsor, a couple of different pastors, and some AA folk. But the more I thought about it there was really only one choice. It was my counselor – Becky Cowman.
Becky had been with me from day one. She had seen me at my worse. I had seen her before I ever went to an AA meeting. More then a counselor she had become a true friend. Though I knew by telling her my fifth step, she would be obligated to tell the courts of any criminal behavior from my past. I decided to trust God and my own instincts.
My fifth step lasted for five hours. Through it all Becky just listened. She never questioned me or judged me. I had made a good decision, Becky just listened. And by her listening, I too, was able to listen.
For the first time in my life I spoke out loud, the wrongs I had done. For the first time in my life, I didn’t justify any of those actions, I just acknowledged them. For the first time in my life there were no excuses.
My successful completion of the fifth step came about because of God. God gave me the tools to get to this point. He gave me good friends through AA. He gave me support through my job. He gave me a counselor, whom I felt comfortable talking with. And amazingly, He threw me into a court system, which I first feared, but over time, they too, gave me strength.
After the fifth step was done, I was numb and in shock. Part of me died that day and while I still feared the future, the process of forgiving myself for the past had begun.
Many addicts who relapse point to their failure to rigorously complete a fourth and fifth step. If nothing is held back, the emotional strength that is gained from completing the fifth step will bring you closer to your Higher Power. And closer to discovering the strengths and goodness which God has stored in you.