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12 Steps of Recovery | Step 5 - Revealing Our Stories

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

The definition of recovery is a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. In the prior blog I explained Step 4 and the creation of a fearless moral inventory. This investment in our inventory allows us to reflect on our own character defects in need of change rather than reflecting on or blaming others for life's mishaps presently. Not every event will reveal personal defects and the inventory revealed will not always be easy to confront, but recognizing our character defects allows us to pinpoint where change is needed moving forward. Step four clears a pathway for recovery by returning our resentful state of mind to a state of normalcy.

When we are around individuals or groups of individuals that we can both relate to and not be judged by, story telling is easy. For instance, when hanging out with friends we enjoy getting high with it is easy to reflect on a stoned moment at recent concert. However, when we are around people like an ever disapproving grandmother, we tend to not reflect at all on the "getting stoned" part, but may still share in the story of seeing a favorite band live. If the stoned moment was an essential part of your original story and there is nothing wrong to speak of, then, why would you hide that particular part?

Maybe there is something about grandma that we respect. Grandma might be a little rough on the edges from time-to-time, but the avoidance of certain facts says something about that respect. It says something about our true intentions of not wanting to disappoint others. Imagine, then, having stories to tell that would disappointment not only grandma, but everyone around you, maybe even the buddies you might normally get high with. Addiction is a powerful mechanism that may lead us to strange actions once thought impossible by our sober minds.

Step 4 is powerful because it forces us to investigate those strange behaviors and take responsibility for them. Step 5 is powerful because now, in our newly sober life, we are sharing the stories we could not tell to grandma, family, friends, or even the buddies we used to get high with during our corrupted using state. For once we are given the opportunity to tell the whole story, no more lies, no more gaps in the plot, pure honesty with another individual. The feeling from finally telling the whole story is, I believe, freeing.

The revealing of our inventory to another person can be done in many ways. We might tell a pastor, a priest, a trusted friend or family member, the important thing to remember is that we reveal our inventory to someone who is not only ready to listen, but someone who will not disrupt the freeing feeling that follows from our revelations to another. The reason AA is so powerful for the Step 5 process is because there are literally millions of individuals in AA that have both lived through similar experiences and who have themselves worked all the steps. Most of them understand the difficulty in revealing this information and are empathetic to what will be revealed.

Lastly, many people I know who enjoy reading books tend to be disappointed with the outcomes of books turned movies. All the details of a book are crucial because they help bring the characters we enjoy so much to life. We empathize with both their triumphant moments and their defects. As a result, the plot line may feel disjointed when either the positive or negative character traits vanish on screen. The goal of Step 5 is not to display our life on the big screen for all too see and understand, but to acknowledge the whole story with someone, like the book reader, who not only accepts our character defects, but who can both empathize with and appreciate our character.

Triple Peaks and Serenity Peaks require our clients to not only work the 12 steps, but to go on weekly coffee dates as well as share each others stories in our communal setting whether at the offices or at our sober living homes. We believe in the power of Step 5 due to the freeing mechanism described above. AA surrounds individuals with people who understand and is a wonderful supplement to treatment.

Continue reading our series on a 12 Step Recovery | Step 6