November 13: 5th Step – Completing the housecleaning

Topic for the week: 5th Step, Completing the housecleaning. pp. 72-73, ‘Into Action’ chapter, BB

Time after time, newcomers have tried to keep to themselves shoddy facts about their lives. Trying to avoid the humbling experience of the 5th step, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably, they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness & honesty, in the sense that we find it necessary, until they told someone else their entire life story.

I remember my first 5th step. I was terrified. I felt that no one I’d ever want to talk to had done some of the things I’d done. What saved me was p. 74, where it says that we can go to clergy, a psychologist, a doctor, a close-mouthed friend, or a family member, and I’ve heard of people approaching a total stranger that felt ‘right’. On pp. 74-75, it mentions approaching the person by explaining what we are needing to do and why, which makes them receptive to listening seriously.

I used a couple of different people for different parts of my story. For one part, I had to hide my face in my hands as I spoke, my shame and fear of rejection were so strong.

There are still a few degrading things I did while drunk that I rarely discuss unless it can be helpful to someone else who is struggling with the same or similar bits of personal history.

The biggest thing I learned from the 5th step process was that I had not committed a single original sin; therefore, I was still a part of the struggling human race. For the first time, I felt ‘a part of’ something rather than ‘apart from’ everything. AA’s 5th step gave me permission to join the world I’d excluded myself from with my drunken behavior and thinking.

Please share your experience with doing a thorough, fearless & honest 5th step, or what is holding you back from doing so.