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Step Five: Sharing Our Wrongs with Others

by Assessor

In the recovery process, Step Five holds great importance. It involves admitting the exact nature of our wrongdoings to God, ourselves, and another person. By sharing our written Step Fours aloud, including our resentments, fears, and accounts of our past behavior, we take a significant step towards healing. The key is to have someone listen and bear witness to our confessions.

Choosing the Right Person

The Big Book delves into the discussion of who should be the person to hear our Fifth Step. Although sponsors are not explicitly mentioned, they have proven to be the most suitable individuals for this role. Bill W, one of the co-founders of AA, had Ebby as his guide through the steps, although the term “sponsor” was not used at the time. It was later, in the 12×12, that Bill referred to Ebby as his sponsor. The initial assumption was that many readers of the book would be unable to connect with other AAs and would embark on their sobriety journey alone. However, it became evident that the book served as a valuable tool for all individuals going through the steps, including those with access to meetings and sponsors.

While the Big Book provides general guidelines for selecting the right person, it also suggests alternative options such as clergy members, family members, doctors, or psychologists. It cautions, however, that the chosen person should possess a deep understanding of alcoholics, be trustworthy, and not be someone who would be unduly affected by our disclosures.

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Importance of a Sponsor

In most cases, a sponsor, being an alcoholic in recovery themselves, meets these criteria most closely. Our sponsors play a vital role throughout our journey, offering guidance and support. While they may not always comment on our confessions, their input often proves helpful. For instance, many of us harbor resentments towards our parents, which is only natural. However, it is important to avoid blaming our parents for our own struggles. We cannot definitively connect their actions, whether positive or negative, to our alcoholism. Moreover, we should recognize the ways in which our parents provided for us, such as feeding, clothing, and educating us. Even if they made mistakes, it is likely that they were influenced by their own upbringing. AA provides us with an opportunity to break this cycle of behavior. Rather than blaming, it is better to cultivate compassion and forgiveness towards our parents.

Letting Go of Blame

In our Step Fours, we often recount events that occurred many years ago. Our sponsors may remind us to release our parents from blame and move forward. Holding onto resentment for decades serves no purpose. Additionally, our sponsors may highlight the importance of respecting authority figures, such as teachers and bosses. As long as their requests are legal and moral, we should strive to fulfill their instructions, even if we disagree. By demonstrating our willingness to cooperate in the past, we may have received fair treatment.

The Completion of Step Five

Once we finish reading our entire Step Four, we return home and revisit a passage on page 75. It urges us to reflect on whether we have overlooked any details. After ensuring that we have recorded all of our memories, we are encouraged to express gratitude to God for deepening our connection. We take a moment, kneel down, and sincerely say, “Thank you, God, for allowing me to know you better.”

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Remember, the journey to recovery is not meant to be traveled alone. Seeking support from a sponsor or someone trusted throughout Step Five helps to lighten the burden and opens the door to further growth and healing.

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