Fifth Step…

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

      The 5th Step instructs us to read our entire written inventory to another person before God. Don’t sit on your inventory for weeks or months as you will just accumulate more resentments along the way and it can easily spiral into the never-ending inventory! Schedule a time to read with either your sponsor, another trusted guide in the Steps, or some mentor or confidant such as a family pastor.

We must be thorough and fearless. Remember that we read our inventory to initiate the process of letting go. We have been honest with ourselves, but now it is time to be honest with another person, which is humbling and requires courage. Here we are given the opportunity to shine a light on our past as we expose, uncover and hold our character defects under a magnifying glass. We dig it up once more, let it out, and confess our skeletons in the closet. Exhuming what we have buried and what shames us the most can be humbling and humiliating, but it is also crucial for the consummation of this process. There will be no “entire psychic change” unless we do this, and do it completely. If we confess 99% of what we’ve done but leave that one BIGGIE out, we may fail, and all of this work will be for naught.

      The reason why everything must come out is that the gas tank cannot be filled up until the previous tank is completely empty. Every last drop. Once we are cleaned out, the light can finally turn green, enabling something new and powerful and wonderful to pour in and saturate our entire being. We are filled with the light and the power of God. By showing the courage to expose our darkest selves, we have earned the capacity to be replenished with spiritual strength, courage and quietude.

      Once again, please remember that if we don’t go the distance, there won’t be much in the way of relief. Relief comes from a clear conscience. It comes from doing something we never dreamed we could do. It comes from fortitude and perseverance. As we push the boundaries of our respective comfort zones and find the guts to walk through our painful and agonizing feelings, this is where we find the gold. This is what creates the condition for love to come in as our fear begins to vaporize. We can now move forward and continue to evolve spiritually.

      Sure things will still bother us and old grudges that have vanished may come back to haunt us. This is normal. Some of our old habits, attitudes and character flaws are not meant to disappear overnight, and we can chalk this up to God giving us more opportunities to work on them, which may be necessary to wholeheartedly put them to rest. It also continues to teach us that much of what bothers us is stuff that bothers us about ourselves. Remember that it is much easier to find others annoying than it is to face who we are and what we are made of. To perpetually escape accountability and responsibility is no way to plow through life, and if we continue on this way, we end up blind and miserable. The effect may be subtle at first, but eventually it will take its toll.

      With inventory, we make what is unclear clear. We see things as they truly are… but don’t beat yourself up too badly. It is easy to become foggy and confused. We often contort what is happening before us without even trying to or being conscious of it. It is human nature to alter reality to self-protect and preserve our fragile pride and dignity. We alter reality to defend our honor and our very existence. However, if we are to crack open our narrow little world and experience the “fourth dimension of existence” as the Big Book promises, we must blow up the dearly beloved yet stubborn and intolerant frame of mind we have depended on for so long.

      We can equate this process to growing up and maturing out of the developmental narcissism of childhood and adolescence that robs us of being able to step outside of our shoes and understand that other people feel and experience things in their own unique way, different from our way. This process of inventory challenges us to climb out of our caves of narrow, insular thinking and emotionally immaturity.

      When we are ready, we quietly go to read. Whether it is our sponsor, pastor or trusted friend, the important thing is to read to a person whom we trust and who is honest, someone who understands this “life-and-death errand” we are on, as the Big Book succinctly describes. Some of us may not have a large enough chunk of time to finish our entire inventory. Let’s face it, we have jobs, families, relationships and a myriad of other duties. In that case, we can simply read a portion of our inventory and then schedule another time to finish.

      This may be your greatest chance to induce a spiritual experience and free yourself from the chains that bind you, so please, read it all. Everything. Leave no dark secret or rock unturned, as the fate of your very soul may be at stake. Even if it is excruciating, embarrassing or perhaps even criminal, confess it all or else… All that has been buried must see the light of day.

*When we have read our inventory to a trusted guide, and when we have also confessed any other hidden ‘skeletons in the closet’ that must be exorcised, we have taken a 5th Step.

-Anybody Can Take Steps, pp. 89-92

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