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Overcoming Addictions 08/19/16

Fessing Up and Looking Deeper - Step 5 in Addiction Recovery

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

In this fifth step, it’s like we are reviewing our moral inventory list out loud (see step 4) and trying to figure out why we have been choosing to live life this way. We are not hiding our behavior list - our shame list. We are taking this list to the Master, our loving heavenly Father, along with another trustworthy person and admitting it to ourselves.

My confession of my destructive behaviors would have gone something like this:  “Lord God, I admit that I sneak up to the room over the garage and smoke pot most every night. In doing this, I neglect my children and choose an emotional escape that could land me in jail and have my children taken from me! I justify my actions by telling myself that ‘I need this’ to change gears from work to being a mother. I convince myself that no one else knows (other than my husband and pot smoking friends). "Needing this" is a big lie and I see that now. Escaping from my emotions and running away are ways I have survived since I was a young girl. I know that you have a better plan for me, God.”

Telling this to God and owning up to it myself did not make me happy. I was ashamed of doing these things. But, this is exactly the level of honesty that I needed. Truth heals us. After all the years of denial, we come clean. In admitting the exact nature of our wrongs, we look beyond the behavior itself and how the choice to continue a destructive behavior is affecting our family, our future, our employment, etc.

This is also the time to figure out why we began handling life this way and how it became such a big part of our lives. We are moving beyond the “bad behavior” list to self-discovery about what started us heading in this direction. The exact nature of our wrongs includes the mystery of why we started it. There are always deep-seated lies we began believing somewhere along the way, setting us up to make poor choices. Did you believe that you weren’t worth loving? Did you believe that a parent  felt it necessary to drink or take drugs because you were such a pain in the neck? (That was a big lie I believed.) Did you decide that how you behaved didn't matter anyway? Whatever thought or behavior patterns we can identify will help us unravel the mystery of what things we began believing deep down in our souls that simply weren't true.

Telling our story of how we got where we are to another person is an additional part of this step. It is not easy to admit our poor choices to someone. The best place to share these truths is among a safe group of people who are not shocked by our admissions: a recovery group.

However you go about it, as the old saying goes, “Confession is good for the soul.” 

We talk about our regrets, painful losses, risks we took.

What might be keeping you from taking this step? Often, people with secrets about their behavior are most fearful of being judged and that keeps them silent. That is exactly how we stay sick. We fear what will happen to us when the truth about us is out. If this describes you, please don’t put the brakes on your recovery at this step. Tell God. Tell someone you trust. Tell me if you want.

These steps to recovery have been used for decades now and they do work. We need to take the risk of revealing our faults to get better. Most of us are not strangers to risky behavior. Healing and freedom come from taking this risk - continued depression, fear, and shame come from not taking this risk. God surely wants to hear us come to Him confessing the things we have done, not to scold us and punish us. The consequences of our choices have already beaten us up. He wants us to bring the truth out to Him, to ourselves, and to another so we can begin to change.

What have you done in your recovery that helped you in this step? Has there been anything or anyone in your recovery process of admitting the exact nature of your wrongs that has been helpful or hurtful?

Lord Jesus, please help us to admit our wrongs to you, to another person, and own up to them ourselves. Help us to discover the lies that we began believing sometime in our lives that altered our belief systems and sent us into a pattern of poor choices. Please show us your truth about these situations. You have seen every moment of our lives.

Copyright 2009 Beth Livingston. Used by permission.

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