“I think the first step is to understand that forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It’s a gift you give yourself.” — T. D. Jakes
I have memories from my childhood that will be with me until the day I die. Vivid scenes that have haunted me for 27 years. These events shaped me and others in ways I could never have imagined.
I was a witness at that time. A witness to violence and pain and tears and screams, and there was nothing I could do. That was one of the worst feelings — being a spectator. Being a child with the power to do nothing. I couldn’t help her, and when I tried, I couldn’t get her to listen.
Something I always struggled with was how I was not enough for her. Not enough to leave him. I couldn’t understand that.
When I was 8 she left me at a doctor's surgery. I remember laying underneath a desk in one of their offices, a blanket that they had provided covering me. I didn’t know what was happening at the time and the details of what followed are vague.
A short stint in foster care came next and then about 8 months with a family friend. Then I went to live with my grandfather, her father. He loved and took care of me the best way he could. Saying that I am lucky to have him is an understatement. It’s a special relationship that a grandparent and grandchild have. He makes up half of my universe.
I saw her a handful of times between the time that she left and the time that she died. I was 24 when she tried to kill herself and then suffered a massive heart attack. She probably tried to kill herself before that though, I don’t know.
Who know’s what she had been doing for those 16 years. When I visited her body at the morgue, I noticed that one of her ears had been sewn shut. It made me wonder what kind of life she had been living. It can’t have been great.
I am 35 now and when I look back my life has always been turbulent. The trauma I have endured has varied but it has always been a consistent part of my story.
And it all started with him. The man she refused to leave. The man she abandoned me for to follow to the other side of Australia.
It has taken me a long time to get to where I am now, but I have made it to a place where I can begin to forgive him. That’s a notion that had never even crossed my mind. I actually find it difficult to reconcile that concept within myself.
How the hell did I find my way here?
I kind of know the answer to that question — which is a bit of a long story that I will save for another post.
But what I do know for sure, is that I am currently experiencing a level of healing that I never thought was possible.
I have cried tears that I have been holding inside of me for so long, and I cannot express how that feels. My soul has been in hiding, it is coming out of the shadows and making its way into the light. My heart is opening.
A time will come for you, when the stars align and you are ready in yourself to face the person at the heart of your trauma… and when that time comes, say what you need to say, do what you need to do, but keep in mind the possibility of forgiveness.
It’s hard, but it might be the beginning of your freedom. It might be the beginning of a whole new way of living and loving and of peace.
Do it for nobody else but you. You deserve it.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” — Lewis B. Smedes