“We may think we have done enough by writing about our past. We cannot afford this mistake.” NA Basic Text p32
Step Four of the program is where we take our personal inventory. This personal inventory must be honest as we not only discover our defects, but also some of our assets. This was very enlightening to me. It is one thing to reflect back on your life when you were using. It is eye-opener though when you sit down and put pen to paper. It’s amazing to me how much more I had written down. Sadly though, it was more stuff that I am ashamed of and wished had never happened. But writing it down is not enough. We have to go through that scary part of Step Five where we allow another person to know our deepest, and sometimes darkest, secrets.
No step in the program is optional, though I tried to fool myself that Step Five was an option. In meetings, we gloss over our past behavior without letting the entire group know exactly the nature of our wrongs. While it helps to hear each other’s stories, we all know that it is not the whole story. My challenge was getting over the fear of actually telling someone exactly what I had written down. I have some pretty embarrassing stuff before, during and after my using. Things that I don’t think I would want my family to know about. The second challenge though was finding someone who I trusted enough with these secrets. That wasn’t an easy task.
I thought about who I was going to share this personal inventory with for weeks. Too embarrassed to tell my wife, too much information to give to close friends and I didn’t even want to think about talking with anybody in the clergy or NA. I eventually went with telling the one person who is sworn to keep my information confidential. I told one of my doctors. It might sound funny to you, but telling my doctor was the best option I could come up with and besides it came up in general conversation. When I did complete Step Five, there was such a weight lifted off of me. It felt like the dark cloud of doom had been busted wide open by the sun.
Now I am not telling you to seek out a doctor to share your personal inventory. I am telling you though that this Step cannot be glossed over or even half-done. Find someone who you feel you can best share this information. Writing out an honest personal inventory is great. Admitting to yourself and to God the exact nature of our wrongs and things we’ve done is only two-thirds of the step. You must earnestly find one other individual to share this information. Once you pass this hurdle, everything else becomes much easier. We have lived in secret for too long. We’ve hidden our skeletons in the closet. It is time to step into the light and breathe the fresh air of freedom that completing Step Five brings.