When I live in the past, I live in regret. When I live in the future, I live in fear. When I stay in the present, everything is as it should be—Anonymous
After the pain from being abused begins to subside, after we realize our life is going to take a very different direction than we originally expected, we start asking ourselves what lessons we need to learn from our painful experience. Although this may sound like a healthy place to begin, it’s not. There’s one step before this, which needs to be addressed:
What do I need to unlearn from my experience?
If you make the decision to begin with this question, your recovery will be deeper and more thorough. Before we become fit and useful to ourselves and to others, having been enmeshed in self-deception, we need to unlearn erroneous thought patterns we have internalized as true. Until we do this, we will flounder, making less progress than we should.
It does no good to simply criticize our abusers, essentially throwing verbal stones at them. It may feel good at the moment, but it doesn’t help the healing process. We need to do more.
We must recognize our deception and make a conscious decision to never be entrapped by the same falsehoods again. By doing this, we will be unlearning whatever imprisoned us in the first place.
Once this is accomplished, we will finally get back to square one. Upon reaching this spot, we will be ready to allow God’s Truth to cleanse us and renew our spirits. But make no mistake about it—we have to unlearn our errors before our recovery will have lasting value. If we don’t, we will remain vulnerable to the next abuser who comes along.
If you want to cleanse yourself of falsehood, join me in this prayer:
Having been wounded at the core of my being,
I have stopped seeking You—
Stopped praying, stopped looking to You
For discernment, guidance, and wisdom.
I haven’t wanted anything to do with You.
I have been so angry, hurt, and humiliated.
In my pain, I have acted in shameful ways,
And I have tried to hide my behavior
From You and from everybody else.
I didn’t want my life to be like this—
I didn’t want to become like I am.
My sins have gone over my head,
And I am unable to control them,
Which I foolishly believed I could.
They control me, and I know it.
I can no longer hide from the truth.
I am weary of concealing my face in shame,
Of churning my anger and my bitterness—
Of medicating my pain with dissipation.
I don’t want the wounds from my past,
Which I received in my abusive situation,
To control my future as well.
Help me to recognize truth about myself
Rather than the self-deception I have embraced.
I want to stop my downward cycle.
I want to change my behavior completely.
Father, I am in a deep pit and I know it,
And there is no easy way to extricate myself.
I have routinely blamed others for my plight,
Choosing to embrace the role of being a victim,
Convincing myself that I have been faultless,
But I no longer believe my delusions.
I have to admit the truth to You and to myself.
I need Your help. Without You,
My life will have neither meaning nor value.
Help me end my self-defeating behavior,
So that I can once again be clean.
Restore me to strength and sanity.
Thank You, Father, amen.
Refer to Step 1: I acknowledge that my life is shipwrecked and not where I want it to be.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
To see more on recovery, check out The 11 Steps to Recover from Religious Abuse.