Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
How many times have you heard some certain 7-year old say, “sorry” like this: “Sorrrrreeee.” He’s kind of fed up with saying it. But someone told him he had to apologize. Guess what, folks? That’s not an apology. It does absolutely nothing for his soul. It does not repair in any way the injury he caused another. And just saying “sorry” – or moving on without it – will not undo any hurt you have caused those who you were supposed to love.
See, here’s the sad but true fact about being an abuse victim:
The Coping Strategies You Used To Survive Meant You Didn’t Know When You Hurt Others
Read that line over: The coping strategies you used to survive mean you didn’t know when you hurt others. Whatever you did to survive was a means of not knowing: cutting, drinking, drugging, sex, gambling, anger rages, numbing, dissociation, whatever. They were all ways of getting away from your pain. Makes total sense. But the downside is that you didn’t know anything else either. Not knowing is not knowing. It can’t be selective.
So when you’re busy drowning in drink or whatever your addiction, and you’re blessedly removed from the pain, you are quite capable of unknowingly and unconsciously hurting someone else. And it is now your responsibility to figure out what you did to whom and why it hurt. Because if you didn’t figure that out, you’d be perpetuating the damage that was done to you onto some other innocent party. And that isn’t at all right, is it?
Besides Healing Rifts, Awareness Of Others Will Heal You
Now is the time–in order to repair your own soul–to start repairing the damage you did to other souls while you were not mentally “there.” In other words, time to get out of denial. As it so happens, there is a real benefit to this process aside from just doing the right thing, which, of course, it is. That benefit is awareness. Let me explain. In order to realize how what you did hurt someone, you must be willing to lift that fog from your brain and allow yourself to really, clearly, see the world. To see how one person’s actions affect another person’s feelings. Wow. That is a big connection. Uh-oh. Did I say a scary word?
Awareness Leads To Connection With Others
Connection. Yup. It’s scary. In order to do this step right, you have to begin by struggling to see how the world looks to others. That awareness leads to a connection with those others. The moment I understand you, I am connected to you. And connection leaves you vulnerable. As soon as you feel for another person, you do indeed become vulnerable. I’ll bet you didn’t realize how truly difficult this step was, huh?
When You Are Vulnerable With Others You Are Truly Living
But the good side of that is that connection to others–and being vulnerable–is being truly alive. That’s the good part. The upside of the vulnerability is that when you feel, when you are connected, you are alive. But go ahead. Take your inventory and then share it. Tell your wife, husband, mother, father, child, sibling, teacher, boss, neighbor that you know exactly what you did and why what you did hurt them. Tell each one of them. I promise you this (and I know this is paradoxical): The more vulnerable you become, the stronger you will be.
Being Vulnerable Will Be Your Strength
You see, the person who fearlessly allows himself or herself to be vulnerable must be ready to take whatever emotional pain comes of it. And that is very strong. Our society taught us all wrong. It seems to teach that one shouldn’t feel. Men, for example, should “take it like a man.” What bunk. That’s like saying men shouldn’t have a right arm. Chop it off. We were created with feelings just like we were created with a right arm. We need them both. They’re both part of how we’re supposed to function. And when you function well, it means you are using all the parts that you were given to the best efficiency possible. And what do feelings do?–They draw you closer to other people, nature, and God; they connect. So the person willing and able to feel feelings is functioning at a higher level than the one who doesn’t.
How do you get there, you might ask. How do you become able to feel the hurt you caused that person you love when you were drunk? How do you get to that awareness of what happened and what it felt like? You can honestly begin by asking. Ask people, “Did I hurt you?” And just listen. Listen to their answer. Soak it in. Ask yourself if you can begin to understand. Remember. Ask yourself if you can connect to that feeling in the absence of booze. What if someone did to you what you did to them–and did it when you were raw and vulnerable, with no b.s., no drugs, and no denial. How would it feel? Begin to connect. Then practice.