Step 5 – “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

 

The 12 and 12 of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about the ego deflation that must occur for long-term sobriety to be achieved. Perhaps no other step is as ego deflating as step five. When you begin to write an inventory for step four, you go into it knowing that you will be eventually sharing it with your sponsor. I believe that fear alone is what causes many alcoholics to abandon their step work. Not only that, but bringing up into the mind a lifetime’s worth of upsets is sure to create a cranky alcoholic. Thankfully, with the guidance of a sponsor, a fifth step is likely to be an exhausting but liberating experience. Every time I’ve gone through a fifth step I’ve learned more about myself and learned exactly what patterns of motivation and behaviors have manifested the negative outcomes I’ve been so upset over. I was able to take that knowledge and give it to God in steps 6-7 and continue to take action on it in steps 8-12. I know now that I’m not the worst or the best, I can simply be one among many. Doing a thorough fourth and fifth step has set me up to be able to be honest about everything in my life, which enables me to live happy, joyous and free no matter the external circumstances.

Most of us know someone who suffers from alcoholism or addiction, either a person in your immediate family, or a co-worker or a friend. Such close proximity to the terrors of alcoholism is not without consequences. To love someone and see them seemingly willfully destroying their lives evokes fear, anger and distrust. Al-Anon is designed specifically for such situations. Al-Anon is a 12 step program that was created as a way for the families of alcoholics and addicted people to seek a solution to their problems created by alcoholism. Often this can look like controlling, rage, obsession or anxiety. The unmanageability of being so close to untreated alcoholism can ironically end up looking a lot like untreated alcoholism without the drink or drugs. Al-Anon has the 3 C’s: We didn’t cause it, we can’t control it and we can’t cure it.

Working in recovery, I am often in contact with the families of alcoholics who are at their wits end. They usually are one of a few types; the person who has so much guilt and remorse over their loved one’s alcoholism, the person who believes if only they do X, Y or Z that their loved one will stop using or the person who believes that a nice 90 separation from the drugs and drink will restore their loved one to the person they used to be. Unfortunately, while coming from a place of love, these are misguided ideas. Regardless of what you did or didn’t do for the alcoholic, you did not cause their alcoholism. Regardless of what you do or don’t do now, will not manifest sobriety in the alcoholics life. And regardless of how much we do to help, we cannot cure alcoholism. This is not to be all doom and gloom. There are actions we can do to positively support an alcoholic’s recovery and actions we can do to negatively enable their disease.
The first and best suggestion would be to attend an Al-Anon meeting. Learn about the disease of alcoholism and get a sponsor who can share their experience of loving someone with alcoholism. Working with a person who has shared your experience and gotten a change in perspective is probably the scariest and most beneficial thing you can do for your loved one. We tell alcoholics that they cannot go at it alone, or they will surely fail. The same principle applies to the loved ones of alcoholics, you do not have to and should not go at it alone. Alcoholism is a powerful and destructive foe but there is a solution to the unmanageability of it. There are usually 12 step counterparts for the families of any 12-step group. Do some research online to find a meeting close to your house and attend it. If you don’t like it, try another. Or come back the next week and see if your perspective hasn’t changed. Take what you can use and leave the rest. You are not alone.

We are only a week away from our open house at our newest home for women, Raintree House. We are so excited to be partnering with The Art of Recovery to bring you this fun event. It will be a great opportunity to tour the home, spend time with friends and nosh on gourmet food. Come and join us!
When: May 18th from 11:30-2pm
Where: 15285 N 92nd Place Scottsdale AZ 85260

The concept of powerlessness is very present in my life right now. As an addict, I spent most of my young adult life wondering why everyone was so worried about me. I didn’t understand the fatal nature of the illness I was battling. Even after I got sober, it was still hard to digest how insidious and how dangerous the disease of alcoholism is. The people around the addict are stunned, terrified and panicked. This often manifests in anger, judgement and stonewalling. For me, being in touch with the families of addicted people is just as healing as working directly with addicts and alcoholics. There is something so grounding to see the reality of addiction from the outside versus relating to an addict who is currently living in their disease. Most actively addicted people don’t like to be called out and they definitely don’t like to discuss the devastation they have left in their wake. I understand that. I didn’t either. We often don’t even understand the depth of pain that we cause those close to us until we get sober.

Being a part of a fellowship is a necessary and beautiful gift of sobriety. It also comes with the high risk of loving other alcoholics and addicts, not all of whom will stay sober. One of the most painful experiences of my adult life wasn’t getting sober. Getting sober was surrender and survival. The most painful experiences thus far have been watching the people I love beaten down by the disease of alcoholism and addiction. To watch addiction play out in front of you and destroy your family is absolutely unbearable. It has also been a lesson in what I am and am not in control of. It has been a test of faith to let the universe provide things to myself and struggling loved ones in due time. I am so grateful I can love people where they are at instead of holding onto where I think they should be. I am so grateful I don’t have to be in charge anymore because I have a spiritual connection. And I am so grateful that I have a solution to my own alcoholism.