Step 5: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
An old Scottish proverb states, “An open confession is good for the soul.” This is also true in our recovery. When we work a Step 4 inventory on ourselves, we then review it with God, ourselves, and another human being – usually our sponsor. By actually speaking out loud “the exact nature of our wrongs” that we wrote down in Step 4, we allow the healing to begin.
In Castimonia (much like in SAA), this is not an open confession of our sexual “wrongs” when we were in our addiction; that was performed in Step 1, hopefully in front of the group. The wrongs we reference in Step 5 can vary. Our “wrongs” can include some or all of the following.
Our character defects: We openly discuss the character defects we listed in Step 4, giving a full explanation and examples of each one to God, to ourselves, and to our sponsor. These defects were often hidden from us until we entered recovery and started working the steps. Our Sponsor can help us identify character defects, during our many meetings, which may not be obvious to us on our own reflections of who we truly are.
Resentments: As mentioned in Step 4, we list out our resentments and follow through to column 4. It is critical we confess these resentments (even about our own sponsor) and work through each and every one. In working steps 4 and 5, we learn a new approach to deal with people that we probably did not use in the past. We would allow our resentments to build up inside and then act out because of the feelings we were trying to suppress. Keep in mind, that in cases resentments arising from of childhood sexual or emotional abuse, we are not in the wrong for the abuse, however, we are in the wrong for holding onto the resentment!
Sexual wrongs: Did we leave anything out of our Step 1 reading to the group? Perhaps there were issues that were too sensitive to read to the entire group? Perhaps we were not ready to face those issues at the time we wrote and gave our 1st step. These issues can keep us “stuck” in our recovery unless we deal with them in an open and honest manner. Issues I have heard discussed in Step 5 but left out of Step 1 have varied. Some have stated their lust other men, lust for younger women, others were victims of incest or sexual abuse as children, and some were sexual with animals or inanimate objects. Regardless of the activity, we openly confess to God and our sponsor what happened. Again, in cases of childhood sexual or emotional abuse placed onto us by others, we are not wrong for those activities. However, we must be able to openly discuss them with our sponsor and therapist in order to achieve some level of healing.
Finally, as James writes, we must pray for each other! We must pray for one another after a Step 5, either together or in private. I ask sponsors that have worked a step 5 with their sponsees to pray for them, so that they can be healed!
Once we have learned how to properly work a Step 4 & Step 5, we are ready to move forward to Step 6!