I have my new copy of Paths to Recovery. In rereading the text for Step 5, I find that I’m getting ahead of myself by fretting over who I’ll be doing Step 5 with. I’d already determined that I need to finish studying Step 5 before actually performing it, but even then, there are separate parts to the step, so altogether the checklist looks a bit like this:

  • Study Step 5, to include readings and answering questions.
  • Admit to God the exact nature of my wrongs. I believe a quiet place where I can address God aloud would be good for this, as it doesn’t seem quite real enough to speak with God silently. We’ll need to go through the inventory item by item.
  • Admit to myself the exact nature of my wrongs. I don’t know yet how I’ll do this part but hope to discover this during the study phase. It could involve drawing charts or summarizing what I found while going over it with God.
  • Admit to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. I have faith that by the time I get to this part, my Higher Power will either have shown me who this should be or will do so soon. So now I can let go of my concern about this part.
I have what in some places is called an “Item A”. This is an item in my inventory that is so difficult to talk about that I can’t even write about it, so it is listed as Item A. This intermediate practice helps the item stop being a secret – it sort of puts a handle on the item by which I can begin dragging it into the light. I acknowledge that it’s there, and I know what it stands for, so I can begin handling this without denial of its existence.
I believe by naming my Item A aloud to God and to myself, this will help further drag it out of secrethood so that I can name this item when I finally get to the last part. If I think about that too much right now, it will scare me, but if I set this aside and just do the part where I am now, surely it will be fine when I get there.

I was recently spontaneously invited to a function that could mean having to sleep over. I don’t always do well with spontaneity. It was a work night. There were chores needing to be done. I don’t really like sleeping elsewhere. I was overdue for a shower and not so willing to use someone else’s. The function involved an activity I don’t really like, plus crowds, lots of kids, and traffic. I had some food that needed dealt with that night else it would spoil.

But the person asking is one I like and am trying to build a friendship with, and the person kept giving me (unsuitable) solutions to my objections, so I engaged in my character defect and said “yes” when I really meant “no”.

It was miserable. It was crowded and small children were tantrum-infested and the traffic was awful. It was seriously late by the time I got home (I didn’t have to stay over after all, blessing of blessings!) and I was so tired that I improperly handled the food so it spoiled anyway. I had a horrible headache and the next day I was fatigued.
When I lay it out on the page like this, it’s obvious I should not have gone. When I was standing out by the car and objecting, I could not see it this clearly. I felt “no” in my heart but for some reason I was trying to overcome it.
Part of the problem is that I had accepted the invitation before I knew of the possible-stay-over component, at which I started to balk, and then right after that I remembered the food and other chores. I feel bad reneging in general, but I know it’s my right to change my mind. I didn’t exercise that right, though. And I did not have a good time.
I have heard many times in Al-Anon meetings that “no” is a complete sentence. I have to remember this is always true. I don’t have to give reasons; it’s not an obligation. It’s okay to say no.