Forgiveness: A Thing of the Past?

I wrote this on my other blog and thought I would share it.  Finding answers in your own heart to what has been bothering you feels amazing and freeing.

I can only hope in my own journey of healing I can help others think about bits and pieces of their own healing to help make a difference.  
For a long time people asked me the same question how can you be so forgiving of your abusers and allow them back in your life? 

I will explore the answers here on my blog to hopefully help others and answer these questions.  First these are my feelings and beliefs that we introduced to me at a young age.  At age 15, 16 or 17 your actions are still not mature enough for the repercussions later on.  You do not have the life experiences to understand fully what you choose to believe affects your life. SO you go to therapists or experts for guidance and answers. Unfortunately not all therapists are the right ones, not all have your best interests at heart.  If you do find one that is good, keep them in your life. 🙂 I had many in my life, some only wanted to talk about the weather for an hour, some only wanted details and offer no help, and a couple were good and offered some good healing advice.  One of my therapists at 17 years old instilled a belief system in me that has forever altered my life’s events.  

At 17 years old, my attitude was I was invincible, no one could touch me or hurt me anymore.  I had told my secrets, well some of them, only to tell those who asked I will never speak of them again. I opened up only for a couple of weeks then I closed all the memories off again.  The words I had been told while growing up began to come out “I will never speak of this with anyone.” That is what I was told over and over and I protected those words with everything I had.  I met my match with a therapist here in town.  She did not accept those words or my attitude and did the ultimate.  With the help of my mom, they brought in one of my abusers into my sessions.  Why? My mom threatened him to give me the gift of an explanation and a sorry. The therapist thought it would help my healing too.  Here I was face to face with someone who told me over and over never to talk about it.  Where was my loyalty? To him? I had never broken a promise, I was a great secret keeper and now I had to betray and go back on my word.  Talk about being confused at this young age.  I had been prepped by the therapist that it was ok to tell him how I felt.  I remember just sitting there across from him, I was so uncomfortable, I wanted to run out the door, I didn’t want to talk about anything.  I had my legs crossed and my feet were moving a mile a minute due to being so nervous, who was going to open up first? So much I wanted to say, I wanted to hit him, I wanted to scream every cuss word at him, I wanted him to feel all the pain I had kept inside of me for so long.  Then the therapist started to talk.

He had admitted and stated he was sorry.  That was it, that was the extent of what he was going to say, nothing else.  NO open conversation, no elaboration on anything, so I was off the hook, I didn’t have to talk.  Therapist stated “Now, that wasn’t so bad was it?” referring to me.  I said no, but still wanting to say a lot more to him.  Then the situation turned on me, the therapist started to tell me what happened wasn’t that bad compared to other people out there.  Look at the other women in our group therapy groups and their stories.  I was a “lucky” one and I should forgive my abuser.  Since he was part of our family I should not only forgive but learn to build a ‘healthier relationship” with this person.  I listened to the guidelines she set out for us.  Nothing inappropriate ever again is basically what was laid down as a rule that day.   I had a new belief given to me by an expert that it was ok to re-build a “healthier” relationship with an abuser.  Looking back now I should have went off on both of them, walked out and never looked back.  

For years at every family get together, trips, or visits my anxiety levels would get so high.  Nightmares would start, rage inside of me started. When I had my own kids and this person would be around them, I began to have panic attacks, I watched my kids like a hawk and this person was never alone with my kids.  I went to far to threaten this persons life after my daughter was born.  I remember looking him in the eyes and stating point-blank “If you ever do anything to hurt my child I will finish what mom said she would do to you.” I set my own rules down and they were “1. my kid will never be alone with you. SO never ask to watch her 2.she will never sit next to you or on your lap you will keep your distance in that way.  Now that I have more than just my daughter my other kids fall under these rules too. 🙂 

The repercussions of this therapists actions and words to me is a lifetime of anxiety bottled up.  Trying to figure out what a “healthy” relationship really is.  Mastering the art of pretending everything is ok when faced with an abuser.  When alone or in the company of those who knew me I was a basket case of anxiety and panic but turned it off in this persons presence.  
As an adult and looking at these beliefs due to others actions against me for this forgiving belief I realized many things.  First, I now mourn the loss of a family member.  Instead of mourning this loss at 17 I am doing it now and for the past year.  It is freeing to be able to think for myself and make my own choices about forgiveness.  Not what someone told me was the right way many years ago.  I take responsibility for my beliefs all these years and do see how events could have gone but know I am a very strong woman to still protect my kids and myself all these years.  I have been doing research and talking to “experts” in this field to find out my own information to form my own beliefs.  This paragraph hit me the hardest:

  When an abuser “confesses” they do not ever tell the whole truth.  EVER.  Again, the book for wives of sex offenders offered shocking statistics.  It’s not uncommon for abusers to confess a splinter of their crimes.  Perhaps they feel they’re doing their duty to confess.  Perhaps they want to lighten the burden of guilt.  But you can be certain that if someone confesses to being an abuser, there is more– probably much more– they did not tell.

Just like a victim doesn’t tell their story all at once.  It trickles out over time.  No one can make a victim talk or tell, a victim has to feel comfortable not with you but with the situation and themselves to open up.  Never realized an “abuser” was the same way with confessions.  That is a scary realization when you just learn it.  Grant it you might be thinking “duh, this is common sense.” Well flip it, if you are listening to a victim do you think, well they told this much to me, there must be more.  No, you take the information for what it is in that moment.

The forgiveness I now hold is strictly for myself not anyone else.  I first forgive myself and go from there.  Forgiveness is about freeing myself so I can have an enjoyable life not so other people can feel forgiven.  This is about me not an abuser.  They have their own journey, I am focusing on mine. 🙂

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