For a long time, I used that as a way to excuse her. “She couldn’t help it. It was behavior she learned as a child.” That’s true, but it doesn’t pardon her for sexually assaulting me.
I excused the old man who molested me. “He was such a lonely man.”
More than just excusing the culprits in my life, by defending them (and I was defending), I didn’t face my anger.
But one day that changed. I went out for a late afternoon run by a small lake and (fortunately for me) no one else was around. For at least an hour I raged at the two now-dead people. I was angry at myself for defending their actions. After the venom poured out, I allowed myself to grieve over my stolen childhood.
I finished my run, sank on a bench, and cried for a long time. “I’ll learn to forgive you,” I said to both culprits, “but right now I want to feel my anger. You hurt me and made my childhood sad and lonely. I didn’t deserve what you did to me!”
It was almost dark by the time I left the park. I didn’t feel vindicated or happy. At the time I was worn out, but deep within was the sense that I had faced reality. I had pronounced them both guilty of murdering the innocence of my childhood.
When I no longer defend the guilty,
I can have compassion on the innocent.