Step Five: The Exact Nature of our Wrongs

I recently lead a meeting on the following topic, and was asked to turn the prompt into a short piece for a recovery blog. The following observations and inquiries are based on my first-hand experience and work with my own recovery through AA. While this is grounded in the 12 Steps and the approved literature, I am not attempting to amend any AA text or practices.

Insights into Step Five

By: Bailey Bunge

Exact Wrongs to Nature

Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous charges us to, “Admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” So what exactly is Step 5 asking us to do? In order to better understand this instruction, I referred to the definition of the word “nature.” According to www.merriam-webster.com, “nature” is defined in part, as it relates to this context as:

1a:  the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing: essence

b:  disposition, temperament

4:  the physical constitution or drives of an organism

Step 5 is asking us to understand the exact nature, the inherent character, the basic constitution, of our wrongs in order to accept, own, and eventually, correct them. There is a powerful difference between making a laundry list of transgressions or character defects and understanding what drives them.

Starting on page 55 of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, we receive instruction that it is only through full disclosure, complete honesty, and absolute thoroughness that we will successfully attempt Step 5. We are being asked for much more than a mere tally sheet. When we truly search for the exact nature of our wrongs, we are gifted so much more than a checklist. We begin to understand our “destructive obsessions,” (Twelve and Twelve 57) which is the first step to repairing them. In this we begin to tear down the wall of isolation and set about becoming who God would have us be. “To those who have made progress in AA, it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be. Therefore, our first practical move towards humility must consist of recognizing our deficiencies. No defect can be corrected unless we clearly see what it is.” (Twelve and Twelve 58) The inventory list we make in Step 4 is the recognition of our deficiencies. Understanding their exact nature helps us correct them. Here is an example:

Step 4 Inventory
Resentment: Cause: Affects: My Part
My husband We fight all the time Personal relationship Trying to control him

 

When we go back to look for our part and add column 4, we identify the character defect “controlling.” Now that we are armed with this bit of self-truth, the cause can move from “We fight all the time. He never does what I want him to,” to an understanding of the exact nature of this character defect. It might look more accurately like, “My trouble lies in trying to control him using manipulation, bribery, punishment, to coerce him into acting as I desire.” Understanding the function of our defects gives us the freedom to grow past them. Being aware of this behavior, we can work to amend it, as we move into a beautiful life, full of progress, not perfection.

Wife or No Wife

By: Anonymous

“Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job- wife or no wife—we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God” (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous 98).

Cake or No Cake

The above statement is a powerful reminder to me that despite my material and external gains or losses, I simply did not stop drinking. I often would attend church services on Sunday, getting drunk at church brunch afterwards. By Monday, I would be in a state of confusion on where my spiritual juice went that I had received at church. It was covered by alcohol. I still was not putting a dependence on God, even when I desired to seek God. Naturally, I stopped going to church. God was not there. Ironically, many years later, my first AA meeting was in that very same church. I picked up my one and only desire chip there 8 years ago.

Hard knocks.  No one told me that hard knocks were going to cease when I got sober.  I was often told “It will get better” and “Things will change and get different.” I remember being over a year sober when I screamed in frustration at someone and said, “What is ‘It,’ that gets better?!” The person calmly looked at me and said, “You; you get better.” Lightbulb on.

I did get better. I worked the steps, sought outside help, worked with a sponsor, attended meetings, worked with others, and changed my behaviors, actions, and playgrounds. Hard knocks of life still occurred as they always will. No one is immune to this. How I handle the hard knocks is what the major difference between the sober alcoholic I am today and the drunk alcoholic I was.

“It is only when boy meets girl on A.A. campus…,” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions 119). I’m not sure when someone stole my 12 & 12 and inserted this page, but I surely do not recall reading it on any previous occasion. It is underlined, so I am sure a sponsor pointed it out at some point.

I found love on A.A. campus. Then after 6-years of dating, relationship, and marriage, I woke up on January 27, 2016, to my love being done with the marriage. 3 days later, she was gone and all of her belongings were in the spare room. 7 days later, all of our finances were untangled, and by Valentine’s Day every essence of our marriage and her presence was gone. 2 weeks. 2 weeks to undo 6-years. In many ways, I am grateful it was quick. In another way, I feel like I’m living out a bad nightmare that I must surely wake from soon.

I found myself thinking about that statement “wife or no wife.” I know with every fiber in my body that no matter what, I don’t drink. “Job or no job- wife or no wife,” I simply do not pick up a drink, and I put my dependence on God. This is not a new solution that applies for divorce, death, or any other hard knock. The solution and design for living is exactly the same as it was in the beginning. However this time, I had 8-years’ worth of spiritual tools at my feet to pick up. I talk about my feelings (argh), feel my feelings (double argh), meditate, journal, listen to music, read the literature, and pray. Then, I work the steps, seek outside help, meet with a sponsor, attend meetings, do service work, and change my behaviors, actions, and playgrounds. And it works.  It really does….If you work it.

Higher Power Auditions

Higher Power Auditions

 

After some conversation yesterday, I learned that not one person had any idea what my cartoon was about. So today, I tried to clarify. (PS- The silver thing is suppose to be a doorknob.) (PPS- I think if one has to explain a cartoon, it might not be that successful )  🙂

-AGK