Friday, March 30, 2012

Easy Answers

"Your blog is full of crap." That was the subject line of an email from someone who called himself J A. He used a number of obscene words (and I was familiar with them). About the third paragraph, he wrote, "Your blog makes it sound so easy. Just do certain things and you're home free."

The only defense I can offer is that he read words that I didn't put in my blog. Thus I wrote an email with the following information to state my position:

* It's not easy to overcome childhood sexual abuse. It will probably take years.

* You have to accept the fresh pain of facing your old pain before you experience any level of healing.

* You have to be strong and determined to persevere if you want to overcome the effects of abuse.

* You'll probably never be completely healed—but you can get close.

* There are no easy solutions and there is never one answer that applies to everyone. Each of us has to find our own path to healing.

* Our abuse was personal and individual; our healing is personal and individual.

J A didn't respond to my email. I'm sorry J A didn't grasp what this blog has been saying from the beginning.

There are no easy solutions, 
but there is hope for those who are courageous.


TomsVoicetoday said...

I understand where JA is coming from. For years (maybe decades) I really thought people were nuts and I could see no real solution to the damage done to me as a child. Then one day I was fortunate enough to drag myself, against my will, into a support group for adult survivors of child sexual abuse. It was a transforming experience, because I learned first that others had a lot to offer me to help me on the path to healing. In addition, I could choose to learn and implement change in my life--or not. The question for me was "Do I want to continue on this path I am on, or do I want more from life?" I decided to change and the first thing I had to focus on was the "negative programming" I had about myself and my reaction to certain triggers. The past was controlling many, if not most, aspects of my every day life. Some of the predators were dead and I still gave them power. Putting these words on paper is easy, the work was hard. But my life is so much better, I have true friends, I have an abundance of self-respect and I have a valuable mission for my life. None of this would have been possible without first taking responsibility for my life and my healing and trusting God to guide my steps.
My advice to JA is to stop criticizing what we say or how we approach healing, but talk to us and take from those discussions any pieces or tools that help him "make it look easy." We are like the boxer that steps into a ring and scores a knockout in the first 10 seconds of the fight. Describing the victory is quick and easy. However, few notice the 5-10 years of blood, sweat and tears put into training to reach that point. That is kind of what healing looks like.

Pippi said...

I've never thought your blog made it sound easy. It just offers hope to get out from under the shadow.

Anonymous said...


I don't believe that telling you "your blog is full of crap" was the best way JA could have begun his letter, but as someone who once admired and felt accepted by your blog and no longer does, I can understand his feelings.

A few months ago, a woman posted about how she has forgiven her abusers and how sad she thinks it is that her siblings have not.

I replied by telling her that I have not and will not forgive my abuser either and I can understand their feelings.

Let me be clear: in no way did I criticize this woman for feeling the way she did. I just wanted her to understand that other people have a right to feel differently and that we are not necessarily wrong.

I also talked about how hard it had been just to forgive myself...

You said that my post "troubled" you for two reasons. One was that I felt I had to forgive myself. You said I hadn't been weak, I had just been a child.

Trust me, I did need to forgive myself. I had spent a lot of time and energy looking back on a child's behavior with an adult's eyes. I recalled how I used to try to make my abuser like me so that the pain would stop and I was thoroughly disgusted with myself.

The worst thing was that I kept wondering whether my silence had allowed this person to go on to hurt other children. This absolutely tortured me.

Yes, I needed to forgive myself.

The other thing that bothered you was that I would not forgive my abuser. You quoted a friend as saying that until a man forgives, he will be carrying his abuser on his back every day.

(I'm a woman. I probably should have made that clear.)

You went on to say that forgiveness is "essential for our healing."

It felt like a slap in the face.

You don't know me and you don't know what I went through, so how can you possibly tell me what I must do to heal?

I believe that forgiveness is something that people earn. I respect myself too much to give it away cheaply.

If my abuser had ever tried to make amends or even just apologize, it could have been a different story. But that never happened.

I felt like you and some of your readers who posted comments after mine only cared about people who think and feel exactly as you do and I felt like a fool for having come here looking for support. I swore I would never post anything here again.

Then, the very next day, you posted a comment I had sent anonymously some time before. It was about my own path to healing.

You said that my writing was "powerful" and you posted what I had written in two installmens because it was so long.

So one day you are scolding me for healing the wrong way and then the very next day you are praising me? It made precious little sense but then I figured that you probably did not know that the two different posts came from one person.

I think that part of the problem is that I am not a Christian and you and most of your readers are. I think you regard forgiveness under any circumstance as a greater virtue than I and I probably should not have taken your words so personally.

But they hurt, just the same.

There is no one true path to healing and you and your readers should know this.

(If you want to know how I began to heal, just re-read the message you posted the day after you told me that forgiving my abuser is "essential" for my healing.)

I will never, ever agree with you but I am sorry I got so angry with you. I felt so sad and so misunderstood (and most of all, ALONE) but I probably just came across as sullen and spiteful.

If any other survivor who reads this is being told that he or she cannot heal unless they follow someone else's book or blueprint, please have faith in yourself and follow your own path. You may not get a round of applause or a bouquet of roses for it, but you will find something that is worth much more: self-respect.

One last thing: I do not carry my abuser on my back every day. I have not done that in a very long time.

Pippi said...

I will never forgive the man who abused my husband. I have, however, forgiven the boy who abused me. Partly because he was still a child himself, though a much older one; partly because I knew even then that his behavior was perpetuated by abuses in his own home; and partly because his goal was not to hurt, humiliate, and destroy me, but merely to fulfill his own selfish desires. Which makes him a completely different sort of person than my husband's abuser, who I firmly believe is a truly evil soul. His actions went far beyond fulfilling any sexual desire; he clearly enjoyed causing pain and humiliation to someone who had no power to retaliate. That I can never forgive. And frankly, I'm not sure it would be right to. If my husband tells me one day he has forgiven that vile specimen of warped humanity, I will pretend to be happy for him. But I actually won't care. I will just be happy that he feels better. For now, his focus has become, "I'm not going to let him win. He doesn't get to ruin the rest of my life too." And I think that's a great attitude.

Cec Murphey said...

Sorry, Pippi, but he's already won.
He's kept you angry and unforgiving. You don't HAVE to forgive, but I hope you will. I hope you'll feel compassion for him regardless of his motives. (And you don't really know his motives anyway.)
I think of perpetrators in the same way I think about addicts: they feel compelled--it's something stronger than their willpower.
If we remain angry and unforgiving, we lose. We can't have true inner peace.
Surely you don't think you're punishing a perpetrator by remaining angry,

Pippi said...

No, I certainly don't. It's just that I think there is a certain point at which any light God has placed within a spirit is utterly extinguished with evil, and I believe he exists beyond that point. There are many things I could say to explain this, but I feel it isn't my story to tell. Based on what my husband has told me during periods of delirium, I believe the man was demonic. Whether possessed, or one of those fore-ordained to destruction, it's all the same to my perception. He practiced ritualistic as well as convenient abuse, participated with other like-minded adults and with multiple victims, and promised curses (not bad word curses, specific expressions of evil and harm) upon my husband for eventually telling. I felt those curses before I ever had anything to connect them to, and I believe they are finally breaking as my husband seeks truth. It has been draining to resist them. Like living with a ghost. I believe the spirit of his abuser is entirely, irreparably evil and that only God can protect us from him even now. I would not forgive him any more than I would a demon.

I pray for him. I pray that he will be unable to escape the sight of himself as God sees him. The knowledge of who and what he really is. I want him to know the truth.

Pippi said...

I've been thinking about my previous comment a lot, because it bothered me. My conclusion is that perhaps I'm confusing forgiveness with reconciliation. If forgiveness means I could meet him on the street without feeling fury, or accept an apology from him, then I don't. If it means being able to leave him and the effects of his actions with God, and not think about them daily, I think I have already done that. Or am at least working towards it. I would not attack him if I met him. I also wouldn't have a conversation with him, however.