Thursday, May 6, 2010

Admitted to Another Human Being...

Not long ago, my husband and I attended the wedding of a dear friend I have known for years but haven’t seen much since she moved to a different part of town.

My friend freely admits that she had no edit button. Whatever is in her head comes tumbling out with the force of a river.

She had had a few glasses of champagne when she cornered my husband.

“You know,” she said. “I used to tell Kathy everything. I told her all my secrets. You know what I got back?”

“No,” my husband said.

“Nothing,” she said. “She told me nothing.”

I was shocked. Was she right? This was one of my closest friends. She had been a bridesmaid at our wedding.

Yet when I thought back, I had to admit she was right.

I didn’t even talk about my secrets when I got together with my buddies from high school at our 30-year reunion. One told me about her drug addict ex-husband (my first love), and how people with guns came to the door looking for money. There was a story about sexual abuse of a daughter at the hands of her second husband. Another woman shared that her daughter had been arrested for meth and her grandchildren were in foster care.

Yet I shared nothing. Not even with these people, who had known me for most of my life, and who were sharing stories I could certainly relate to.


Because I didn’t want to let people get close enough to see what was inside. And that’s the beauty of the fifth step. I have to tell. I have to let someone in.

The fifth step reads: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

In a way, writing out my forth step was admitting the truth of my life to myself and God. Saying it out loud was the work of the fifth step.

As much as I’d learned about myself in writing out my fourth step, hearing my words out loud added a different dimension; like proofreading a paper by reading it out loud. Things your mind glossed over suddenly stand out.

But the real value in the fifth step, I think, is that things that are not apparent to me, because I’m too close, are crystal clear to someone else. It’s like getting a fresh set of eyes.

The other value, I think, is that at least one person on the planet—not coincidentally the one I call first for help or advice—knows just about everything about me. She knows my patterns, my self-deceptions, the way I try to wiggle out of owning what belongs to me. So she can see when I’m doing “it” again. Whatever “it” is. It makes me accountable.

And my secrets no longer seem so big or so awful. They are right sized. I can live with them. I can even share.

Hubby and I are off to the land. I'll be catching up on your blogs when we return. Meanwhile, take care.


  1. i've been friends with my bff since we were ten. i'd kept so many secrets from her, she's stopped reacting with hurt and surprise when i share something from my messy childhood and/or young adulthood. i guess it's a process. thanks for continuing to share, kathy.

  2. Exactly, when we speak things out loud to someone else the things don't hold the power or mystique they once did. Such freedom.

  3. I agree with tchnobabe. it loses its powers! Hope you and your hubby are having a great time away.

  4. I know for me I used to share WAY too much, like to anyone that would listen and all the time. I have learned that I can share but also figured out I can choose when, who and what I share. I am looking forward to working the steps though as you know I have not yet. I wonder if there are others out there like me that shared too much about their life secrets that weren't really secret? Have fun on the land!

  5. I've been sober a long time and I feel no need to share my problems with long time friends. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I do share them all with my sponsor.


  6. "And my secrets no longer seem so big or so awful. They are right sized." I can't wait :) Mine is scheduled for next Thursday at 2:00. I am nervous about some of the things, but am determined to get better, and this is a huge part of the path.
    God bless.

  7. this is a powerful step. Sharing with someone you trust...those things that let the shame freeing. Take gentle care. Sarah;

  8. Technobabe said it perfectly; it loses its power.

  9. Secret's are and were making me sick...I am getting better. I look forward to watching your recovery. It inspires me...

  10. When I went to my first therapist, I was very surprised when he told me that I was a "very private person." I thought of myself as an open book, but when I looked at it, I felt exactly as you described in this post. I realized I had not shared anything important with anyone - no matter how "close" I thought we were.

    Doing my fifth step was so much more than "admitting my wrongs". It was about letting go of things I had done, yes, but also things done to me, the fears I carried because of those things and the behaviors I developed because of those fears. It was so much more than I expected - and yes, someone else seeing it with that fresh look did give me a lot of insights as to why I am the way I am.

    Mady is right - you are inspirational.

  11. Happy Mother's Day!

  12. The fifth step is a powerful experience. And yes, it is another person listening and not judging. What a freeing feeling.