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- February 14, 2008 at 11:42 am #3700777
Signals Disclaimer: The following information on the 12 steps, are from how I interpreted the Big Book and/or the 12 & 12 book. I did my absolute best to explain what the books say on a step as simple as possible, but without straying from what the book says. All exact quotes have been changed for copyright reasons. Any quotes that do appear are from the first edition in the BB. Some of what I have written is from original homework assignments on the steps from what my sponsor gave me to do. Hopefully what I write can help. If anything, take what is useful and leave the rest. Keep it simple!
The following is some of the rough draft a few AAers and myself made for a workshop type meeting that is in the works. This is set up as kind of a “how to” when reviewing the 5th step.
“We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world” (Big Book page 73-74)
Step five is a step of admission, review, and reflection. When doing Step Four we did our best to list our resentments and fears. When doing this inventory, if we were honest and thorough, we learned a lot about ourselves, but we are not done yet. Now it is time to take this inventory and reveal it to another. You may ask yourself, Why admit what I have done to another person, when it was hard enough to admit it to myself by writing it down? The Big Book explains.
“Time after time newcomers tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk.” (Big Book, page 72-73).
If you have truly given yourself to your Higher Power when you did the Third Step and listed your resentments and fears in the Fourth Step, then you should be ready and willing, to admit these character defects in your inventories to another. This is the first action in Step Five. Remember when doing your Fear Inventory, you asked God to remove the fears you listed. This means all fears. This step requires fearlessness and honesty. In other words, you should give the God of your understanding the fear of revealing it to another person. That’s what you were taught in the Third Step. Remember, half measures avail nothing!
The second question you may be asking, who should I reveal it to? As stated in the Big Book on page 74, “Rightly and naturally, we think well before we choose the person or persons with whom to take this intimate and confidential step.” Page 74 of the Big Book also suggests the following and one important one it does not.
1)Someone ordained by an established religion. (Priests, ministers, etc.) Even if you do not belong to a specific religion.
2) A closed-mouthed understanding friend. Meaning a good friend that you know will not gossip to others.
3) A doctor or psychologist. These people take an oath of confidentially, and their job is to help you.
4) A trusted family member, (wives, husbands, parents etc.). But not disclosing all information due to the risk that could hurt them or make them unhappy. “We have no right to save our own skin at another persons expense.” Big Book, page 74.
And there is one other suggestion, a rather important suggestion, that the Big Book doesn’t mention but the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions does.
In the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions on page 61, it states the following.
“We shall want to speak with someone who is experienced, who not only has stayed dry but has been able to surmount other serious difficulties, perhaps like our own.”
Remember, we are in a fellowship with one common problem. We are powerless over alcohol. What you are experiencing or have experienced, your fellow members of AA have also in one way or another. Getting a sponsor is one of the most important priorities when in recovery in AA. If you have made your sobriety top priority, are going to meetings, and working the steps, then a sponsor is one that is there to help share their experience, strength, and hope. Maintaining a close relationship with your sponsor is important because they are the ones working the steps with you. They like you are an alcoholic! AA literature has a pamphlet called Questions and Answers on Sponsorship that is highly recommended for the newcomer. Sponsorship is part of the foundation of how AA works with alcoholics helping other alcoholics. If there was ever a step where a sponsor would be beneficial, THIS IS IT!
The paragraph in the book continues.
“This person may turn out to be your sponsor, but not necessarily so.” If you have developed a high confidence in him, and his temperament and problems are close to your own, then such a choice will be good. Besides, your sponsor already has the advantage of knowing something about your case.”
The paragraph in The 12 & 12 continues about the alternative options about revealing our results of our “house cleaning” to others, other than our sponsor that were listed previously. It is important to consider your options of who to talk to, and may take a little time to consider. But no matter who we admit our wrongs to, the most important action is the willingness, thoroughness, and honesty, that must come from you!
The second action of the Fifth Step is the action of reflection and review as explained in the Big Book on page 75.
“Returning home we find a location where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better. Taking the Big Book down from our shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last.”
Omitted means to leave out, leave unmentioned, and/or leave undone. Basically this part of the book suggests that after we admitted our shortcomings to another, we go home, reflect, and review our work and progress in these steps. We take some quiet time to ourselves, open up the Big Book, and review the first “five proposals” meaning steps One through Five. In the simplest terms, We ask ourselves if we have done the first five steps thoroughly.
Next, the paragraph asks the following four questions.
“Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand?”
Is our work solid so far? (Have been as honest and complete to the best of our ability?)
Are the stones properly in place? (Have we followed directions in order?)
Have we skimped on the cement put into the Foundation? (Again, have we been thorough with our work?)
Have we tried to make mortar without sand? (Have we left anything out, or skipped anything?)
Whats the main theme here? Thoroughness, willingness, and honesty!
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