The fifth step requires a measure of humility, something many active alcoholics have not practiced in a long time. To defend our addiction, we often resorted to arrogance and pride to cover up our mistakes and shameful behavior. True humility, which requires putting aside the ego and dealing honestly with our behavior, allows us to really see our addiction and how it hurt our loved ones and ourselves. By admitting to another human being the often very embarrassing things we did as active alcoholics, we experience a unique freedom from the guilt.
Many people will pick another recovering alcoholic to tell these wrongs to. Rarely will you meet another alcoholic who can't relate to your behavior while drinking. You may find yourself surprised by how you both can laugh at your behavior now that it is in the past. This reaction can help us discard shame, which can only defeat us as we move through recovery to a life where we recognize the mistakes of our past but are not imprisoned by guilt over our mistakes.
That was then; this is now.
"I thought I was the most horrible person I knew. I was mortified at the thought of telling another person some of the things I'd done. But I knew I wanted more than anything else to stay sober. And I was told over and over that I would stay as sick as my secrets. Well, the recovering person I told my wrongs to had one reaction at the end of my life: Is that all? He regaled me with stories of his drunken binges that were unbelievable. I couldn't even believe he'd admit ANY of this to another person. For the first time in more than ten years the feelings of guilt and shame started to lift. I knew I was on the verge of a completely new way of living." Jacob B.