Refer to STEP 2: I refuse to continue living my life pursuing self-defeating behavior.
In 12-step recovery groups, especially AA, interesting aphorisms develop, which are remarkably accurate. One is that “you can’t save your face and your ass at the same time.” What this means is that people can’t paint a rosy picture about their lives and make any progress with their recovery. If someone chooses to save face, then their fundamental dishonesty puts their recovery from substance abuse in jeopardy. To recover, a person must be rigorously honest. If they choose to save face by not being forthright, then their “ass” will be vulnerable to relapse.
If this is true for people in AA, which it is, then it is even truer for people who have experienced religious abuse. Although Christians should be the most candid and transparent people in the world, they are not. In fact, a large percentage of Christians will go to nearly any length to protect their image. They want everybody to think they “have it all together,” even when it’s the furthest thing from the truth.
When these people are religiously abused, instead of being honest about their experience, they internalize it and put on a happy face for the world to see. Practicing denial, they choose to save face, suffering the consequences, which are shame, loss of self worth, and a host of other debilitating emotions. In this sense, they sacrifice themselves by withdrawing emotionally, physically, or both. Placing their image above being real, they prefer to nurse their wounds in private rather than come clean and get the help they need to stabilize.
Choosing to save their face rather than their ass, they save neither, as they pursue this self-defeating strategy. It’s one of the reasons why recovery is so necessary. When you think about it, isn’t seeking recovery from abusiveness really the Christian thing to do, anyway?