After I got over the shock and disbelief of learning about my spouse’s betrayal, all I could feel was hurt and anger. Reminders of his cheating were everywhere and they sparked feelings of humiliation and shame. I wanted revenge for my hurt pride, so I berated and belittled my husband. While my vengeful behavior brought fleeting satisfaction, it never brought joy or happiness. I thought Step Seven was about leaving, but I realized that wouldn‘t take away the pain. I still felt love for him. Despite these realizations, I felt entitled to my anger, but the price I had to pay for clinging to that anger was more pain.
As I worked the S-Anon program, it became clear to me that while I had a legitimate reason for feeling offended, I would not stop hurting until I made a decision to let it go. Why did I let resentment, hurt, and fear torment me for so long? Hadn’t I suffered enough? I could not forgive. I was afraid that forgiving would mean pretending the betrayal didn’t happen or denying my need to take some space and time to establish trust and intimacy again. But to forgive didn’t mean those things. It only meant that I had to choose to give up my preoccupation with revenge, berating and belittling. I had to make a decision to surrender my self-righteous desire to hang onto the offended feelings.
So I decided to let them go. I knew I couldn’t get rid of the bitterness and anger by myself. I had to have God’s help. I got that help using the Seventh Step prayer found on page 76 of Alcoholics Anonymous. I surrendered, humbly asking God to remove my bitterness and anger over what my husband had done and to return the loving feelings for my husband I had felt previously. The gift I got was freedom from the pain associated with the wrongs. I was given the gift of peace.
Just as I asked in my heart specifically that the defect of ongoing bitterness and anger be removed, today I adapt this prayer to every problem that “stands in the way of my usefulness to God and my fellows.” It has always worked if I really wanted to be free of a defect. Surrendering through Step Seven always brings me a sense of joy and release.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 75-76.