Step Five is the step where you share your story with someone you trust. In many ways Step Five is the freedom step. This is “swallow your pride and walk into the light of truth and honesty step.” It’s human nature to try to hide things about ourselves. We’ve all done things for which we’re ashamed. Consequently, filled with self judgment, guilt, and shame, it can seem easier to pretend nothing happened or to try to hide, reframe, or disguise the situation. Out of sight, out of mind, so we believe. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Truth will out, as there are precious few real secrets. Generally the only person we fool when we pretend this or that did or didn’t happen, is ourselves. Case in point. A parishioner went to great lengths to hide his homosexuality, only to learn we had always known and loved him just as he was. For years he’d made himself miserable pretending to be someone he wasn’t our of fear of rejection and discrimination.
When we hide our secrets, fears, failures, and anxieties they don’t disappear; they go underground where they poison us with injections of shame, blame, and self hatred. Unlike the oyster who is able to create pearls from the irritants entering its shell, our denial mechanisms turn us into angry, judgmental, bitter, and dishonest individuals.
One 12 step worksheet says of Step Five, ”it was with step five that we were offered the chance to have shame and guilt transformed into humility “ That’s a powerful promise! Step Five can transform our shame and guilt into humility? Who wouldn’t want that? Humility, you see, a gift of the Spirit. It is that which brings us peace of mind and empowers us to accept ourselves just as we are. Humility is what happens in and to us when we trade our shame and guilt for the truth. Humility emerges as we acknowledge our brokenness, accepting what was and is, not as something for which to be ashamed, but as an opportunity to move forward. Humility is the quiet self acceptance that comes when we let go of our denial and false pride and step into God’s open future.