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The Best Revenge

This post comes from John.

I heard a Holocaust survivor say that the only real revenge against the genocidal murderers of Nazi Germany was to live.

That statement impacted me deeply when she said it, but over time I realized that in many ways that I was not living because of my abusers. In more ways than I could count I had shut down in life and was still under the control, abuse, and victimization they had inflicted on me in my innocence.

For instance, I lived under a cloud of generalized guilt, believing that I had brought the abuse on myself and that I deserved it. I felt inferior to everyone around me—everyone. It was as if I didn’t deserve the air I was breathing and if anyone knew it they would take it away from me.

Another way I was still being victimized was by an overwhelming fear inside that was turning into what one doctor diagnosed as “the third stage of agoraphobia." That generalized fear of anything and everything can become so debilitating that some people never leave their house for fear of what will happen. I wasn’t too far from that level.

I had to hit bottom before I recognized that my abusers still had tremendous power over me. I had to come dangerously close to losing all I loved. It was important for me to recognize that the guilt, anxiety, and phobias controlling me had deep roots in the early childhood invasions of my soul by reckless, abusive sexual perpetrators.

It has not been easy, but I have slowly begun to deny access to the negative power of the shameful memories, replacing them with the healthy, life-giving power of my present choices and opportunities to be the man I really am and want to be.

I have found for myself, as the Holocaust survivor said, that my only real revenge is not just to live, but to live well.

1 comment:

Heather Marsten said...

Amen, Amen. Living is the best revenge. At one point I had a pastor's wife ask me why I was holding on to the anger, pain, and hurt of my past. My parents were dead and could no longer abuse me, nor would they be affected by my clinging to the past. That question gave me the courage to forgive and shake off shackles. I was letting dead people victimize me -sounds like the plot of a horror film. But no more. With Christ's help, I loosened the bonds and stepped out. I am proud of you for choosing to live well.
Heather