It was my fourth time going through the steps before I thought I really “got” it on step five. (By got it, I mean that I felt I finally understood the real objective.) The first three times were not by any means a waste. They were like a warm up for the real thing.
As it says in the Big Book, “More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see. He wants to enjoy a certain reputation, but knows in his heart he doesn’t deserve it.” My life had been spent trying desperately to appear to know everything and always be right. I wanted people to think I was the smartest, fastest, toughest person in the crowd. I felt I had to do this to protect myself from being hurt. Honestly admitting to another person that I had made mistakes was a very humbling experience. To admit that my approach to life had failed, that I wasn’t all that I pretended to be, crumbled all my defenses.
But the gift of step five was that I finally felt like a worker among workers, a garden variety drunk. I felt that I now truly belonged in the fellowship. It was a huge relief that I didn’t have to continue to work so hard to appear to be someone I wasn’t.