In Step 5 we are instructed to admit our wrongs to God, ourselves and to another person. All three of these admissions can be a struggle for me. If I admit a wrong to God I am in essence, reaffirming the decision I made in Step 3 to turn my will and life over to Him. In doing so, I am recognizing that I don’t own sole determination of what is right and wrong. If God has the power to restore me to sanity, then He also has the power to determine what that sanity should look like and what is right and wrong with my life and actions.
Admitting my wrongs to myself requires ownership and responsibility. I have spent a lifetime attempting to shift responsibility and blame to others. Admitting responsibility introduces the possibility that I may need to correct at least some of the wrongs I have committed. I’m not being asked to do that at this time, but the thought is being introduced.
Admitting my wrongs to another human has been terrifying to me. I can admit my wrongs to God and myself and still deny wrongdoing to the world but once I cross that line and confess my wrongs to another person, I have publicly owned the fact that I am not perfect. Admitting my wrongs to another person has been a line I refused to cross. If I confess to God and admit to myself, why is anything more needed?
According to Dr. James G. Frieden and Dr. James E Wilder, authors of The Life Model, our brains are designed to process trauma, pain and a sense of overwhelming in relationship with vulnerability. For many of us, vulnerability generates overwhelming fear and shame, specifically toxic shame. Toxic shame is a debilitating feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing. We feel like we are not good enough, and even worse, that we can never be good enough. While in active addiction, the power toxic shame held over me was the intense, terrifying fear of exposure. If even one person ever discovers what I am really like I will be rejected by everyone.
My experience and the experience of many others has been the very opposite though when we are able to share our struggle in a safe and non-judgmental environment. A coach or sponsor, a counselor or therapist can provide this safe place for you. There are groups that exist for this exact purpose, AA, NA, Celebrate Recovery and Samson Society are just a few examples. When we can experience vulnerable, safe, non-judgmental community we are able to begin to break free from the stranglehold that isolation and fear of exposure has held us in. We don’t stand up and share our struggles with everyone but there are islands of safety. AA uses the phrase “rigorous honesty.” My experience is that finding that place where I can practice rigorous honesty has provided me a foundation where freedom can grow and thrive.
If you have questions about this kind of community, please, please reach out. Freedom is a possibility. You are not worthless. You have value and one day your story can be just what someone needs to hear to experience hope. Email me at email@example.com.