Taking the Fifth

A recovery program ‘fifth’ couldn’t be further from the US Constitution ‘Fifth Amendment’ where one does not have to testify to self incriminate. The Fifth Step ask us to admit to our Higher Power, ourselves and another human being the “exact nature of our wrongs” which we discovered by going through Step Four. In other words, we completely incriminate ourselves and own up to the who, what, when where, why and how of our past.

Confession is not only good for the soul, it helps to heal the mind and body as well. More and more we hear about the link between our physical, mental and emotional health. How I think and feel can directly affect my body: my un-ease can cause dis-ease. Research shows that it goes a whole lot deeper than worry and stress causing stomach ulcers. I need to spill my guts in order to regain my health and sanity. I think the Catholics idea of confession is sound. Telling on myself, revealing my secrets, will help to restore my being.

“Why do I have to tell someone?  It should be enough to write my list and talk to my Higher Power.” In reality, it isn’t enough. It’s one thing to say to myself and remind myself what I have done, even when it’s done in a real and spiritual way. And I believe it should be: we can take the time to sit down by ourselves and have a chat with our Higher Power about what wrote in Step Four. However, it’s quite another to say it out loud to another human being. Doing so makes it real. Discussing it helps us to understand our underlying motives, our passions and our humanity. And it helps us to develop a plan of how I can make some positive changes so that I won’t repeat the same behaviour in the future.

Taking the Fifth helps to develop humility, not to be confused with humiliation.  Humility is accepting the truth of what is: I am who I am, no better or no worse than anyone else; I am human. Part of that humanity is having faults as well as virtues and I need to accept both as part of my being. In many ways it’s a relief to tell on ourselves. I no longer have to prove who I am. At least one other person in this world knows my truth. I no longer need to put on a mask or play a role in front of that person: I can be completely honest.

A final thought on taking the Fifth Step. Doing so prepares me for the Ninth Step which, while it is still down the road a bit is when I talk to those whom I have offended and make amends for what I have done. If I have developed some humility and can share all of my past with one person, it will be much easier for me to admit my fault with someone who already knows something about what I had done.

Step Five provides a chance to develop some humility and honesty and demonstrate that to another human being. Once I do incriminate myself and my secrets are out, it’s a whole lot easier to continue the healing process of addiction. I gain self esteem and hope. I know I can change and that I can change how I respond to the persons places and things in my life, discovering the joys of recovery.


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