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The Long Road to Forgiveness

(This is an encore post from an anonymous reader.)

I was ten years past the physical abuse before a therapist explained that I had been abused. I thought all little boys did the kinds of things I did with family members in secret times and hidden places. It never dawned on me that what was happening to me was wrong, though somewhere deep inside me I felt dirty and knew I couldn’t talk about it to anyone. I actually thought that was normal.

Now thirty years beyond the abusive behavior of my relatives, I realize that the struggle to forgive them is like a giant mountain I can’t imagine being able to climb.

They abused me.

They should have known better; they shouldn't have done it. I've paid an enormous price in my life for their horrible actions. There are times I have hated them for what they did.

The big problem is that resentment and hatred fueled my emotional distress, addiction, and dysfunction. Carrie Fisher once said, "Resentment is like drinking poison, and waiting for the other person to die."

Forgiveness means so much more for me than it does for my abusers, but it seems so counter intuitive to do it and almost impossible considering the damage they did to me.

For now, I take it a day at a time. Two of my abusers have passed away, and that releases me from the fear of having to see them again in this life. I sometimes try to imagine them standing before God as the men they should have been all along.

I know they have to reckon with him one way or another. I am responsible only for myself and for the kind of life I choose to lead. Forgiveness for me is like traveling on a giant mountain or a long road. I can live successfully by taking it one step at a time.

1 comment:

Roger Mann said...

Forgiveness is a tough issue and we each will wrestle with it and make peace with it one way or another at some point. If for no other reason than for our own sanity. I like the quote and agree totally. Forgiveness, bitterness, hatred, resentment are toxic and to carry that around for years often leads to physical pathology and emotional sickness. It will poison your life if you let it.

It is like a tug of war with the other person and you have to keep both hands on the rope. Letting go releases you from them and gives you the freedom to move on and really live.

It is simple, but not easy but well worth it.

Roger