Step 5 reads as follows “Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” This is where we share our written inventory with our sponsor or a closed mouth friend. Some people may want to share their inventory with someone in the clergy. The point is to share this verbally with another human being.
This can appear to be a daunting task for some of us. We may have some things in our paperwork that we have never shared with anyone. We also may have some things that we are ashamed of. We must get this all out verbally with another human being. That’s why when we select the person who is to hear our inventory, we need to be very careful. We need to make sure that our information will not be repeated to others. We also need to make sure that the hearer be aware that we are on a life and death errand, and that they need to be able to point out defects of character to us. They need to have the wisdom to guide us through this step.
Step 5 is not a particularly comfortable place to be. That’s why it is of paramount importance that we take this step thoroughly and quickly and move to steps 6-7. We have our written list of resentments, fears and sexual conduct. Some people like to think they can just verbalize their information and not write it down. Well, the dictionary definition of inventory is “written list of things.” So there goes that excuse for not writing down our items. We want to share this with a person who is firmly grounded and knowledgeable of the 12 steps.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states we” resolutely look for our own mistakes while disregarding the other persons entirely”. This is our inventory not theirs. “Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened (pg.67)”. We become willing to set right the mistakes we have made. The book speaks of our fears. We list them on paper and share them also with this close-mouthed friend. This may be the first time we have ever verbalized what we are afraid of. We may fear that some of our fears are silly. They may be silly, but they are very real at this time for us. Everything we have written down is fair game for discussion. In fact, everything must be discussed. We do this so we may ascertain our defects of character and other shortcomings as well.
After completing our first fifth step we are able to move on to steps 6-7. This is where we are finally able to let go of the toxic items in our makeup. We begin to feel a bit of relief by doing so. We also have now learned a measure of humility by admitting to another person our shortcomings and defects of character.