Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Conversing Sisters: Step 5, We Are Admitting

Lisa & Me, circa 2010

This post is part of a series of writings I did with my sister Lisa, in 2012. Our thoughts and perspectives reflect a moment in time. They may or may not have changed in the passing years.

Step 5: "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs."

Lisa's Thoughts  

EGO- Edging God Out.  

The 5th Step is the step that allows me to face my ego head on. I like to call it - the ego diffusion step. As I have gotten a little better in AA, this is the step that keeps me from acting on my thoughts and acting with God’s guidance for the most part.  

When I first came to AA, I would have liked to have told you that I was a good mother, a good daughter and a good wife. I probably said out loud, more than once, that the only reason why I drank was because of what others have done to me, and if you had my life you would drink too.  The truth was that I was not a good mother, a good daughter, a good sibling, a good wife or really much good at all, as far as my behaviors were concerned. Facing myself in this manner has been one of the most challenging, yet the most rewarding at the same time.

This step, also, helped me deal with some of my resentments concerning my childhood and the religion I was raised in. I hated having to meet with the Bishop to discuss what I had been up to and then come up with an action plan as to how I was going to change my behavior, so that it would be aligned with what the church was teaching. 

After working this step, I fully understand the power in discussing my wrongs with another human being and the freedom it offers. I do, however, appreciate that in AA it is understood that you can read your 5th step to anyone you choose. It can be your sponsor, your parent, your friend, a guy on the bus, or a religious leader. Having the choice seemed to make it easier knowing that I could completely come clean about my shortcomings with a perfect stranger if needed, so that I would feel safe.  Every 5th step I have worked, I have read with my sponsor at the time.

In addition to dealing with a great deal of ego in this step, it also provides the opportunity for two human beings to share their suffering. I believe suffering is the great leveler and truly is what binds us together. It gets easier to clean up my wrongs when another woman stands up and shares my story in front of a group of strangers. It always made sense to me that if they can do that, then I can most definitely write it down on paper and discuss it with someone I felt very safe confiding in.
Becoming aware of my wrongs has made making them right that much easier. In addition, the awareness allows me to remember the spiritual price I pay when I behave in a way that is not congruent with the program of AA or the spiritual laws I choose to govern myself by today.  These wrongs have miraculously become my greatest assets in working with other alcoholics who suffer as I did.  

Step 5 is that purification process that burns deep until it shines just like a potter’s clay sculpture. 

Liz’s Response 


I love what you have to say about sharing your wrongs with another person. I totally agree.

Also, I completely understand your aversion to speaking with a Bishop and appreciate your willingness to hold space for how it can be beneficial. I only wish that all people had the same experience that I did meeting with my Bishop. I know that they don’t and that breaks my heart.

I did, however, miss in this piece what the process was like to formally admit your wrongs to yourself and to God. You touch on it briefly in the beginning, I crave more of your experience with those two experiences. I think it is inspired that those three admittances live in one step as they are three distinct actions/experiences yet they inform on each other completely.

Love you!

Liz's Thoughts  

This weekend I’ve felt disconnected from the spirit. In my morning and evening prayers I would ask for the Spirit to be with me as I was feeling particularly vulnerable. Yet, I still felt disconnected.  I knew God was with me but I didn't feel the presence of the Spirit. It occurred to me that perhaps this was because I was too consumed with what I was feeling and how I had been mistreated that I hadn’t created space for how I was contributing to the feelings I was experiencing. I realized that my ego was bruised. By admitting this to myself I could then start the process of examining why my ego was injured, what I thought I was entitled to (entitlement is a key informant that this is an ego issue) and what my ego was after.

I’ve been engaging in self-awareness/reflective behavior long enough now that this has become second nature. There is a part of me that gets excited to discover something new about myself, something new to work on and grow from.

It wasn’t until I had admitted to myself that I could take it to God. This morning I acknowledged what was battling my ego and asked for comfort and strength. I still was not feeling the Spirit. In the middle of the day it occurred to me that I needed to ask for forgiveness for being prideful, which I did and felt the Spirit immediately.

As I continued throughout the day, I reach out to a couple of my dearest friends and admitted to them that I’m an ego driven person.  It’s helpful to admit my foibles to others because (1) it allows me to hear my own voice naming and claiming what is; (2) a way of being held accountable and (3) these people are a source of comfort, strength and love.

Admitting my wrongs to myself, God & trusted people helps me to work through my issues and continue the struggle for growth and development.  

Lisa's Response


I love this! I love that we were able to talk about this in depth.

What I have learned over the past few days, or was reminded of, is with every action we are either feeding our ego or our soul, and it is simply a choice we make. The one we feed is the one that survives, or takes control I should say. I believe if we feed our soul our ego will follow suit and work in harmony with it.

This is such a powerful journey we are on, the purpose of life is to learn. I am so grateful for the many painful experiences in our lives that broke us to complete teachability and I believe we are all that more blessed because we are open to learning… that is the miracle.

Love you!

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