A Fifth of A.A.


A Fifth of AA


It would be either a fifth of booze or …



I ASKED Bill, the newcomer I’m sponsoring, “Is your Fourth Step written and pretty much completed?”

“I think so.”

“Let’s get together after tomorrow night’s meeting.”


I got to my own Step Five by telling myself that it would be either a fifth of booze or a Fifth of AA. The AA Fifth started me on a road to freedom I’d sought in the other kind of fifth and not found. With Step Five, I came into the spirit of AA.

For me, holding back on Step Five was like my experiences at birthday parties when I was a kid. I didn’t feel comfortable there; the group was intimidating somehow, and I felt I didn’t belong. The other kids were laughing and having a grand time. When someone’s mother would encourage me to join in, I would plead, “I’m feeling a little sick.”

As an adult, in AA, I chose the same pattern. “Come on, do your Steps.” “Join in.” ” ‘Easy Does It,’ but do it!” I pleaded feeling sick: “I’m a recovering alcoholic. When I’ve recovered enough, I’ll do the Steps.”

Today, I choose to be, and work to go on being, a recovered alcoholic. This recovery must be maintained daily. The Twelfth Step directs me to share recovery. Sharing a Fifth Step is a vital part of my maintenance.

Tonight, I’ll share a Fifth with Bill. We’ll start with a way to help it flow, perhaps by my simply asking, “What do you consider to be the worst, most embarrassing thing in the inventory? The item you least want to mention. Let’s get that out of the way first, and the rest will be easier.” Then, I’ll share something similar from my own inventory. The relief will be great. The tension will ease. We’ll be on our way to cleaning house.

The prayer “Lord if I can’t help, don’t let me hurt” runs through my mind. I won’t be there as a judge. This man will be sharing, with his Higher Power and with me, the things in his life he wants to keep and the things in his life he wants to throw away. I’ll just be helping him take out the garbage. We’ll both have some trash that we no longer want to keep–that we are ready to set out for hauling away.

I am going to feel an intense love and respect for this man. He will be talking about things he is ready to work on to make his life whole. He will be creating room in his life for the good things our Higher Power will give us when there is room for them.

And I will gain new insight into myself. An area in which I was blind to myself will appear. There will be something to renew my dedication to AA–a new source of strength, a new place to work.

Progress in AA is, to me, as if my life had been unfired clay. A crisis comes, and-where once the brittle clay of my life seemed to shatter, ! have now come to believe that a Power greater than myself can help me shape my life–and I have decided to let Him do so.

In Step Four, we inventory all the material, and in Five, we begin the process of selecting what we want to keep and what must go. In Six, Seven, Eight, or Nine we start eliminating the useless and using the useful. In Ten, Eleven, and Twelve, under the guidance of a Higher Power, we begin a lifelong, daily job of building a new life.

Bill has been in AA for four months; tonight or early tomorrow morning, Bill will come into the spirit of AA.


“A Fifth of AA”.  www.aagrapevine.org. https://www.aagrapevine.org/magazine/1979/dec/fifth-aa.  27 Apr 2021