Last night I had the honor to be the guest speaker at a co-ed Big Book 12 Step zoom meeting in Newport. It was on Step 5. Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human the exact nature of our wrongs. All the deep dark crannies from my past. The secrets I would never let see the light of day. The bondage. Letting my God know that I now knew myself? I was now armed with facts about myself? A tsunami of selfishness and self-centered fear. And yes humility. Exposing myself to another who understood my plight, a closed mouth trusted person. With my newfound faith I was willing to overcome some if not most of my guilt and shame. When I had wrapped up my extensive 4th Step I knew my AA sponsor or let's say 12 Step "spiritual advisor" was the only one to hear my story. Not being religious the whole ordained person thing wasn't for me. I had trusted my sponsor from the beginning really. Probably the only person I had ever trusted. I was with him when I was willing to surrender to Step 2, ready to admit the 3 pertinent ideas to myself or abc's in the Book. A, I was alcoholic and could not manage my own life. B, probably no human power could relieve my alcoholism. C, that God could and would if He were sought. Then the Book said in italics? "Being convinced?" I was at Step 3. I needed Step 3. I had no coping skills to speak of, no real courage or inner strength. Spiritually bankrupt, empty. Just a common people worshipper. My hope was that people would like me so I could like myself. Honestly I couldn't care enough about myself to care for myself. I was staying sober but only as long as I banged out meetings everyday. If I backed off at all? I would surely drink. I prayed to pick up the pen and write. To go back through my past. To get myself all down on paper like it suggested. Now after a lot of writing, a lot of self searching into my flawed character, I was ready to let it all go. Ready for my 5th Step. We got together right away. Me with my newfound God of my understanding or spiritual higher power? A half dozen notebooks of fearless and thorough inventory specifically as the Book directed. And my sponsor with his willingness to keep a confidence. A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY I was a changed person in spite of myself.. Not really understanding the whole God thing completely I did however get the Higher Power idea suggested. I could believe and still stay away from Churches. The Book eluded to my own conception of a spiritual higher power. No human power could relieve my malady. But I believed in the Book. I was all in with my Thursday night Men's Big Book 12 Step meeting. It was the only Big Book Step meeting anywhere, I lived for it. The Book and those like myself who could live a decent life sober yet still speak fluent crazy just enough to get through to me. The idea there was a great creative intelligence underlying the totality of all things. Yes, there was something to life and death. A heart beating. Something bigger than me and my plans or designs. I believed in a spiritual realm. It was my thing now and it was ok. I felt I was in a way separating myself from the rest of AA. I didn't want to but I was growing fast, my heart and soul were into my AA program as laid out specifically. Others were doing what was best for them. It was scary sure as if I was doing something wrong or bad but the Book was portable. I didn't need to chase it, I kept it with me. When it seemed as if my friends from the discussion and open speaker meetings, even the 12/12 said I was too intense with all the Big Book stuff, I was hurt but kept on the spiritual path suggested, my 12 Steps. No longer did I believe I could do what others did and get the same result. It was time to be true to myself now. They seemed to take my Step work as a personal jab like I was somehow acting better of smarter. When actually it was the opposite. I was into the Big Book 12 Steps because I was hopeless and was willing to admit it. As far as thinking I was any better than anyone else? I hated myself and felt everyone hated me also. I was a hopeless alcoholic and the Big Book 12 Step program was saving my life. ILLUMINATING EVERY TWIST OF CHARACTER This 5th Step was not like Bill W's later experience written in the 12/12 Step Book. There were no assets and liabilities. This was Big Book not 12/12. I was there to search out the flaws of my character that's all. So there I was at my kitchen table with my sponsor and my God. I opened up the first notebook on resentment and placed it to the left, another notebook where I was (selfish dishonest self-seeking and afraid) in front of me on the right. Both open to the beginning, the first written resentment. We prayed. I prayed to be honest and see myself and my sponsor prayed also, to keep a confidence. I began to read from left to right. Everything was numbered. Resentment number 1 from notebook number 1 on my left lined up with turnarounds notebook resentment number 1 on my right. Left to right, what was the resentment? Where was I at fault. Over and over looking at my true self. I point the finger at them? Read how I was affected by my resentment? And then read where I was at fault. If there was any fear I would have it bracketed in the "affects my" column and mention it also. That fear, that evil and corroding thread. It was everywhere. Over and over, resentment after resentment. I kept reading. Damn I was selfish. I was dishonest everywhere. A survivor in my own sea of self-pity.. I had no inner spirit only others opinions real or imagined to dominate me. I needed people to somehow accept me, like me so I could like myself. Let me suck on their courage and strength, use them, I had none of my own. Alone I was just an empty void of existence. Full of fear. No wonder I drank into oblivion everyday. I would do anything to avoid seeing myself and who I was. Anything to shut it all off. FEAR CONSUMED ME MY ENTIRE LIFE As we moved on to the (fear notebook) I kept reading. As suggested in the Big Book I had listed my fears in black and white and answered the questions. 1 (why) I had the fear was usually it's origin and 2 where (self reliance) failed. 3 Where I was (cocky) and 4 what was the suggested (better way) of coping with fear. As I kept reading it was as if my fears fell away. Weird, I was feeling as if I was becoming spiritually fit. It was showing itself in ways I wasn't used to. I had a fire in the fireplace or had cleaned up the kitchen. I wasn't sleeping on the couch all night with the TV on for company. I was becoming comfortable in my own skin. Somehow caring enough for myself to care for myself? This was completely new. I noticed I was cooking myself a decent dinner and sitting by myself enjoying it. Not wolfing food standing at the kitchen counter. Shades weren't pulled down tight. I had cleaned up the house and folded laundry. I did this for me? Sure if someone was coming over I would pick the place up but just for me? This was new. The fear, the self-centeredness was really falling away. This stuff was really working. I was changing for the better. THE PARTY Maybe 3 or 4 nights of 7 hours each were behind me and now the sex notebook. My sex conduct all through my life. I answered the questions thoroughly. Where was I selfish dishonest inconsiderate. Where did arouse jealousy suspicion or bitterness, who had I hurt? What should I have done instead. And of course the ideal. Something I was willing to grow toward. Sex, resentment, fear, selfishness, I was looking at myself now..I would begin to treat all these defects of character the same. Nothing was any more or less than any other.I was willing that my God would remove this part of me and replace it with my new found willingness to serve my God and fellows. FINISH When I was done reading It was suggested I turn to the page that contains the 12 Steps and review. Be honest. Have I left anything out? Have I kept things to myself, scary things I did see for fear of another's opinion? Nope. I was clean. I had been as thorough as I possibly could to this point. I was ready for Steps 6/7. I have no reason to lie here or mislead anyone. The truth is my life changed drastically as a result of being halfway through my 12 Step work. I've never gone back to that old me. Growth spurts sure. Life on life's terms sure but that empty lost soul who lived to drink each day? He's gone.