Cumberland Heights Blog: The 5th Step


The 5th Step – “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

By Brandie R.

Completing the 4th Step was an arduous task. The process revealed feelings of anger, hurt and betrayal in the list of wrongs I felt others had committed against me. However, working through this step made me feel prepared for my upcoming 5th Step.

The 5th Step in Alcoholics Anonymous requires you to reveal to another human being the complete list of wrongs prepared in the 4th Step.

The day I sat with my sponsor to begin this process I arrived early at her home and apprehensively placed my list in front of her. To my horror, she promptly picked up a pen and added a column to my list. Why would she do this? Was my list too short? Was I not searching or fearless enough? This column haunted me. Then it began.

The column represented the resentments I felt toward myself. My sponsor knew before I could manage healing and forgiveness for others I needed to begin the healing process with myself.

The resentments in this column were my real secrets. These wrongs didn’t involve others. I was the aggressor and the victim. The guilt, shame and pain resulting from them were kept inside me at all times. I was trapped by them.

It took several days to examine the resentments I held against myself. I would say out loud to my sponsor:

“I feel less than.” “I am not worthy of love.” “I judge myself against others on a daily, hourly and minute by minute basis.”

I could not forgive myself. After our frustrations became palpable, my sponsor asked me to take a walk. As we walked she began to illustrate negative patterns in my behavior. I thought to myself, “What is the point? This is stupid! I am wasting my time here.”

Finally, after a long, pregnant pause, my sponsor turned to me and said, “Do you know you are perfect? Do you know that God made you perfectly just the way you are right here in this moment? Perfect no matter what? No matter what!”

This was my breaking point. The arguments in my head were quieted and the only thing I could feel was love. A love for myself I hadn’t felt before. It was forgiveness of self.

This moment defied reason. God had just revealed himself to me in my step work. I had no plan to let go of the resentments I held against myself. The moment I heard the words from my sponsor I simultaneously FELT the words from my sponsor and it was amazing.

The remainder of my 5th step was built on that moment. I acknowledged my resentments and identified the consequences. More importantly, I found my part in it and I found forgiveness. I acknowledged that God had forgiven me a million times over, but I forgave myself and I could forgive others too.