Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs [and those wrongs done to us].
This is a painful process. We’re all human and we’ve made many mistakes. We’ve hurt ourselves, allowed others to hurt us, we experienced the pain of a thousand cuts, we’ve possibly stood by and allowed others to be victimized, we’ve been victims, and so many other things have happened in our lives. The wrongs we’ve committed against others and those committed against us stick with us and they hinder our ability to get free from our cycle.
The problem as we see the problem is not actually the problem. We identify the symptoms as the problem. The cycle is the symptom of the underlying problem. In order to get out of the cycle of abuse, we need to address the root of the problem. They way to get to the root is list out all of the things that are done to us and which we have done to others.
Then we say them out loud – to ourselves, to God, to another person. Why? Saying things out loud takes away the power those things have over our lives. Somehow giving those things a name allows us to address the things that are done to us and that we have done to others. Giving it a name allows us to consider how we feel about it. Listing our things all together allows us to see them all together so that we can identify patterns of behavior that cause us to suffer needlessly.
Until we go through these steps, we suffer. We experience PTSD which is haunting in itself as it is like reliving the experience repeatedly. We experience anxiety disorders which prevent us from doing what we should be able to do. We try to numb the pain and become addicted to substances of many kinds. We often self-medicate. We want to be free and we try to free ourselves in the only ways we know how.
First, we list out our wrongs against others. We take responsibility for those things we have done first and most. The first thing of these is we have tried to fix another human being. We have taken responsibility for the actions of another person. In trying to fix the other person, we have tried to fix the person by changing our own behavior. Somehow the blame gets twisted in our minds such that we are both the problem and the solution.
For example, we say: he wouldn’t have gotten angry and hit me if I hadn’t been wearing such revealing clothes and so I will dress more modestly in the future. The premise here is that it’s okay for him to hit me if I wear revealing clothes. In this scenario we are the problem. Our solution is: dress differently and we won’t get hit. We attempt to change our behavior in order to fix him and change his behavior. The real problem is that he hits us and there are underlying reasons (like insecurity) for his violence that don’t have anything to do with us or our behavior. We can’t fix it for him. Additionally, we have accepted the premise that it’s okay to hit me when you feel that way.
Next on the list: What have we done while we’ve been in relationship with our abuser that hurt someone else? I damaged relationships and broken trust as a result of many of the things that I did. We have allowed behavior from our partners in these relationships that we would not allow from outsiders to that relationship. Our choices often involve our children and we need to address those impacts. Our choices involve our friends and family members who shelter and support us.
Then finally, we are going to have to confront those things that have been done to us. Each instance of abuse has left a mark on our souls. When we stuff those events, we stuff the feelings that relate to those events. It is common knowledge that when people stuff now, they explode later. The explosion is just another symptom.
It is the root of the PTSD we experience. We can’t talk about it and so it erupts out of us in flashes when our guard is let down. We have stuffed it for so long that it escapes and takes us along a painful journey. The terrible thing is that we get carried back in time to relive our worst moments over and over.
Stuffing is also the root of our addictions, if we have any. We self medicate. We can’t deal with our feelings that overwhelm us and we can’t stop the flashes of expression and we don’t know what to do with them. So we try to hide from them in the bottom of a bottle or drug bag. Over time, the hiding may become another addiction that threatens our lives.
So we admit. We list. We name. We cry. We feel. Then we talk to God. He’s the great healer after all. He is trustworthy and his calendar is always free. He doesn’t judge us the way people may judge us. He doesn’t judge us the way we are judging ourselves. Some of us just need to get rid of it and get used to feeling those feelings that are associated with all of that before we can say out loud to another human being what we have done and what has been done to us.
Next, we pick another person to tell. I chose a counselor. It took me over a year of meeting with him to trust him enough to tell him the worst of what had been done to me. I continue to reveal things to him over time. He doesn’t judge me. He’s seen worse. He understands the reasons why – the psychology of it all.
This is a purge. It’s a purge for our minds, our emotions, and our souls. Over time, our lives are changed, the symptoms and the underlying problems are dissipated by bringing them into the light. We can talk about them in general terms or more specific terms to other people outside our inner circle. It makes it easier to go through it again. It also makes it possible to move on. The process heals us and over time we can let go of the wounds. We heal.
This process is very painful and can cause mental health issues to come to the surface. It is helpful to take it slow, with a trusted person, a counselor, and God (or any combination thereof). Take care of yourself during this process is important. You matter and you are loved.
Enter your email above to receive these posts directly to your email.