STEP FIVE CONTINUED: Share our struggles with others of like-mindedness trusting that our anonymity will be guarded by all.
Instruction: Realize you are not alone.
As lonely, secluded, and injured as we might feel, there is always someone who has experienced something similar to what we have gone through. Others have been hurt, disappointed, abused, or misled by a religious leader or a religious organization. By finding and sharing our struggles with those who understand what we are dealing with, we discover that we are not alone or isolated. It is disappointing to be in a position where we need support, but the new friendships and acquaintances can bring healing, love, understanding, and a safe environment that allows us to work though the darkness together. At other times, it supports us when we are alone and find we are haunted by the past.
Religious Recovery supports individuals through literature and online help, but the 13-Step meetings and one-on-one support are perhaps the greatest tools to find our way out of the darkness. Healing is benefited when we have someone who lovingly listens to our pain and shares our journey, because they’ve experienced similar pain, and who offers words of comfort, even if it’s something as simple as saying “I understand. I can relate. I’m here for you.” Part of the sharing process is being given permission to vent and release our emotions. Anger is a common and reasonable response to abuse. Tears are an acceptable and needed form of release. By sharing our pain, we begin to release and heal. Without sharing, the wounds remain open far longer than necessary.
I have had the honor of working with people who have said to me that they have never shared their story with anyone else before. Many have held onto their story for years. Today’s instruction is to find someone you know to be absolutely safe, even if it’s a total stranger you will never meet again, and share your story. This is not so much confession as it is release, and release is the beginning of healing the past so that we may live fully in the present.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.