Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.

Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby xj9-2000 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 3:21 pm

I am getting ready to do a 5th step and have decided to use a member of clergy. For the purpose of anonymity, I have decided not to ask a clergy member from my church. I have emailed several churches asking if a member of their clergy would be willing. As I wait for their reply (hoping I get one), I wondered what I would do if a female clergy member offered to hear it (I'm male). I know that sponsorship should not cross sexual lines, but what about the fifth step? Any ideas?
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby D'oh » Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:02 pm

I have always done mine with my Sponsor, mainly because I cannot BS him, and he already has an idea of my Defects.

I have Sponsored and heard 5th steps from the opposite sex. Hard to say if it was successful, but they are both still sober.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby ezdzit247 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:24 pm

Hi xj9-2000 and welcome.

Although same sex sponsorship has become a widely promoted informal AA tradition, it's certainly not an AA rule that's written in cement. I recently attended a memorial service for a female AA member who had died at age 84 with 46 years of sobriety. Many of her sponsees spoke at the service and many of them were male.

AA's 5th Step simply says:

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


I don't think it really matters whether the member of the clergy who hears your 5th Step is male or female as long as you are comfortable with your choice.

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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby avaneesh912 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:44 pm

I am getting ready to do a 5th step and have decided to use a member of clergy


May I ask you why you are not doing it with a AA member? Not all clergy are aware of the process. Bear in mind this is not just confession. Its about deciphering where are getting choked from God.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby positrac » Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:43 am

I would ask why not with your sponsor first as I am sure you aren't the only person in the world who did things they are ashamed of. But members of clergy are good because they listen and you move on and hopefully it will fulfill the secrets you have. This process is not a one and done event as you'll do this process over the years of your life because of the healthy balance it provides.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby Brock » Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:36 am

I wish you the best with your 5th, the book supports the idea of a pastor. It would be good to give a very brief description of why you are doing this before starting, mind you many pastors have a good knowledge of the AA program, you may be lucky to get one of those.
This process is not a one and done event as you'll do this process over the years of your life because of the healthy balance it provides.

Can I say I disagree with this, without having a big blow up. Because it's not written in the literature that we will redo the 5th step, and also because it is unfortunately one of the more intimidating steps, (at some of these we balk), and if someone told me before I did it, that I would constantly have to redo it, I might not be here now.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby positrac » Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:31 am

Brock wrote:I wish you the best with your 5th, the book supports the idea of a pastor. It would be good to give a very brief description of why you are doing this before starting, mind you many pastors have a good knowledge of the AA program, you may be lucky to get one of those.
This process is not a one and done event as you'll do this process over the years of your life because of the healthy balance it provides.

Can I say I disagree with this, without having a big blow up. Because it's not written in the literature that we will redo the 5th step, and also because it is unfortunately one of the more intimidating steps, (at some of these we balk), and if someone told me before I did it, that I would constantly have to redo it, I might not be here now.

Each to their own although if you nailed the 4th and 5th the first time then you are one who should explain to everyone on how to be open and honest the first time as to get it all in one clean sweep.

I know for me that after my 5th step many things started coming back to me and I did another 4th and 5th step to clean up my life. Just because we don't drink doesn't mean we are cured. Or just doing the 10th step everyday makes it all ok.

But to caveat so the terms of difference is in the intent: What works for me might not for others and vise versa..... This is IMHO regarding AA as a program of action throughout our lives and after 27 years I am not the foremost at anything and mostly master of none and jack of none because I am learning and continuing to grow.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby avaneesh912 » Mon Nov 21, 2016 10:51 am

Because it's not written in the literature that we will redo the 5th step


I agree. But part of the creating the inventory, it talks about we have just made a beginning. So it does leave room for more inventories for later days.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby Roberth » Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:14 pm

Hello xj9-2000 welcome to E-AA. My name is Robert and I am a Los Angeles area alcoholic. There are no rules about who hears a 5th step. Male, female, priest or nun, I even know someone to called and out of state Central Office. What we have found that doing the 5th step with your sponsor seems to work the best. Your Sponsor will relate to some or all of it and might be able to have some direction for you.
I did my 4th and 5th step with my sponsor at the same time. I have an old school sponsor the believed that you could do the first 8 steps in 8 hours. So when I didn’t do my 4 step in a week he showed up at my front door with a pen and pad of paper and told me to sit down and start talking. After a couple hours the things I wasn’t going to share with anyone were coming out.
Now when I take a sponsee’s 5th step I always tell them to be sure and share with someone the part they are holding back. The funny part is 4 out of 5 times they usually ask me how I knew and tell me the rest.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby Spirit Flower » Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:40 pm

As I wait for their reply (hoping I get one), I wondered what I would do if a female clergy member offered to hear it (I'm male)
Ha! If you are afraid to be open with a female member of the clergy then definitely use a female member of the clergy. Overcoming your ego will be powerful.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby Blue Moon » Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:21 pm

xj9-2000 wrote:I am getting ready to do a 5th step and have decided to use a member of clergy. For the purpose of anonymity, I have decided not to ask a clergy member from my church. I have emailed several churches asking if a member of their clergy would be willing. As I wait for their reply (hoping I get one), I wondered what I would do if a female clergy member offered to hear it (I'm male). I know that sponsorship should not cross sexual lines, but what about the fifth step? Any ideas?

Hi. There's no rules about who you should take your 5th with. But I can think of good reasons not to take it with someone who's not in AA and been through the process. So I'm also wondering why you wouldn't choose someone in AA. In that situation, I would look to my motives (e.g. am I hoping to keep something hidden, or fearful of what someone I know may think of me? )

There may be good reason for using someone ordained to hear it like a confession, but in some ways you may be denying yourself a vital aspect of the recovery process - building a bridge between yourself and humanity. Yes, some here say the book claims you can use a pastor or whatever. That's true, but what they tend to avoid mentioning is that the book was written for folks who don't have a sponsor or other AA fellowship in their local area. The book also says:
We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.


So ISTM the only reason for me not to take a 5th Step with anyone in AA (who's already gone through the 12-Step process) is if some aspect of my story may do them harm. In that situation, I would share everything else with the AA member, and take just the current legal-problem matter up with the ordained clergy member. From both, I may receive advice on what to do about my difficulties, and I would need to follow both in their own context.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby Blue Moon » Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:00 pm

avaneesh912 wrote:...part of the creating the inventory, it talks about we have just made a beginning. So it does leave room for more inventories for later days.


Step 10 has the 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th Steps on auto-repeat mode, particularly when (not if) "selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear" crop up. Easier said than done, especially when we're in the right.

I take a mini-5th each time I'm explaining to someone how to do their 4th, to help put into context what it's really about. I'm just not reliving the resentment, self-pity, fear etc. whilst doing it.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby positrac » Tue Nov 22, 2016 8:09 am

avaneesh912 wrote:
Because it's not written in the literature that we will redo the 5th step


I agree. But part of the creating the inventory, it talks about we have just made a beginning. So it does leave room for more inventories for later days.

Ahem say that again???? Just sayin. :lol:
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby Brock » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:20 am

I agree. But part of the creating the inventory, it talks about we have just made a beginning. So it does leave room for more inventories for later days.

Ahem say that again???? Just sayin.

I didn't reply to that when it was posted, because it comes at the end of step four, it says - “If you have already made a decision, and an inventory of your grosser handicaps, you have made a good beginning.” So we turn the page and it starts - “Having made our personal inventory, what shall we do about it?” It says absolutely nothing about a good beginning on inventories, it's a beginning into - “trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator,” a beginning on the path to freedom.

Once again, someone can do a fifth step as often as they wish, saying it's part of the AA program to do it more than once is not just untrue, but it also offers another excuse for the newcomer faced with this step; at some of these we balked; to walk away. We don't need to sugarcoat the work required, but by the same token we have no right to make it look harder than it is.
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Re: Choosing someone to do a 5th step with

Postby Mike O » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:19 am

My own feeling and my own experience is that Steps 10 and 12 contain elements of a Step 5 in them - "...promptly admitted it" and "...practice these principles in all our affairs".

So, in this respect, we do repeat a 5 throughout our lives when necessary.

Personally, I have no problem with the concept of repeating a 4, followed by a 5 and a 6, whenever I feel I need to. It's part of my spiritual growth.

I assumed this is what positrac was referring to when he talked about repeating it again and again.

The message I try to pass on is that the initial Step 5 should be thorough, honest, fearless, leaving NOTHING out.
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