Thank you to Lisa for her post on Step 5: Acknowledge to Heavenly Father, to ourselves, and to another person experienced in Twelve Step principles, the exact nature of our wrongs.
I’m going to focus on a specific example from my life that I had recently with this step. I was struggling one night with unresolved feelings towards my dad. He passed away six years ago.
When I was a child I had many good and wonderful experiences. I loved when he held me, brushed my hair, and did special things like taking us to walk around the visitor’s center at the nearby temple. I loved him.
I also hated him. I won’t go into the specifics, but I hated him for the things he did at times. I was also embarrassed by him. Lastly, he scared me when he got angry. I had many difficult memories, but I also had some sweet ones. I tried to focus on those. I got married and moved out and was grateful that when the anger flared I could leave.
As I got older I thought I had resolved my feelings towards him. We established a relationship that I was comfortable with. I rarely saw him get angry and I thought I was over it. I started to recognize some of the things in myself that I hated or was embarrassed about with him. This allowed me to be sympathetic. He was doing the best he could and so was I.
As I prepared to move from my home to Michigan in 2009, he was dying of cancer. I will always remember that last time because I was terribly ill and he was in the middle of chemo and radiation, he put his personal safety aside and held me. It tore my heart apart to leave knowing that he wasn’t going to be around a whole lot longer. Somehow at that time I knew it was the last time he would hold me. I called every day and spoke to him, helped him with things as I was able and kept in touch with him and how the cancer was spreading. I desperately wanted to be there for his last few days on earth, but knew I didn’t belong there. I discovered too late how close he really was and made a hurried flight home to be with him. I made it just a few hours before he passed, but he was unconscious of me. Still, I knew he was aware of me. It was a miraculous answer to prayer.
Now, years later I realized I never resolved my issues and I couldn’t anymore with him because he had passed on. I finally broke down and prayed like I never had before. I poured out my soul to Heavenly Father and confessed every negative memory I had towards Dad. I told Him everything I hated, everything I was embarrassed by. Then I told Him all the good things. The sweet, kind, and good things. The things that made me proud to be his daughter. It was like a mini moral inventory about just one person. It took me a long time and a lot of tissues. I laid it all out and wasn’t ashamed anymore. I got up and wrote about it in my journal, honestly, for the first time ever. I had to that point just been hiding my shame that I would feel this way about my father. It wasn’t right.
I realized that it wasn’t right, but I realized too that right or wrong didn’t matter, it was how I felt. I confessed it all to my husband. I know that’s not normally the one to confess it to, but in this case I felt prompted to share it with him. It was an incredibly cleansing and powerful experience. When I think of Dad now, I no longer have a knot in my stomach. I still remember the unpleasant things, but I am at peace, finally. Step Five has brought me healing that I never thought I would obtain in this life.