How Forgiving Saved My Mental Health and Sanity
Turning from carrying so much hate — To being able to forgive
In the beginning
During the first six years of my daughters' life, I did not talk to her father. Our last encounter was when my daughter and I left his mother’s house and went on our own. I spent countless hours just thinking about all the damage he did to me and how he ruined my life.
I hated him for five years straight.
He left me at seven months of my pregnancy because he met someone else. He decided he wanted to be with her. He had also, in the past, mentally, physically, sexually and verbally abused me, a couple of times a week.
While I was staying at his mother's house, he used to come over when no-one else was there and harass me. He would physically abuse me when I refuse to listen to anything he said to me. When I refused to sleep with him, he would beat me up and take it from me.
He would verbally abuse me and call me the worst names in the book.
He would constantly tell me I was worthless and no one would ever want to be with me because I had a baby.
The seed of hate was planted and took root
I hated him with a passion and resented him. I wished he would die so that he couldn’t come over to his mother's house to abuse me. When he found out I was looking for a place on my own, he would threaten me. He would threaten to tell the authorities that I was an unfit mother and they would take my daughter. I was terrified.
I felt defeated and helpless yet I refused to believe I was worthless.
I had to do something…and quick
I quickly had to figure out a way to get out of there and move somewhere where he couldn’t find me. He would feed me so many lies it was starting to pick away at my self-esteem and confidence.
Eventually, I left his mother's house. I changed my number and he actually left me alone. He didn’t make any efforts to come and look for me, thank you, Jesus. All I really cared about was having a place where I could get away from him. A place where I could be in peace and just take care of my baby.
Moving out on my own I faced a lot of challenges
I had an empty basement apartment with just a bed, a television, and a dresser. It was not comfortable at all being in an empty apartment.
I still remember the day my landlord (I was renting his basement) called me and asked me when I was going to move in. He said he would move his car for me to get my furniture in.
I told him that he didn’t have to because all I had was my clothes.
But I just couldn’t get my ex out of my head
I kept thinking of the constant abuse from this man. Somehow he felt he had the authority to tell me what to do. Meanwhile, he left me for someone else. I hated that he was trying to control me. He didn’t even want to be with me.
Who the heck did he think he was?
I was on my own for the first time in my life
My place wasn’t even done up like a real home. Usually, people are excited to move and set up their place and make it a home. I was depressed and scared, but thankful to God that I got out.
I had to remind myself that it was temporary.
I focused my mind on good things
I sang songs to myself like “Oooh child things are gonna get easier” or “Life is what you make it.” I thought about people in the Bible who faced adversities and hard times. It comforted me that they turned to God.
I knew that He was with me and this was just a season.
I would thank God that at least I had a roof over my head because many people don’t. These things helped me get through tough times. It helped to remember about the big house that I lived in with my parents as a child.
My childhood home was very comfortable.
But that darn voice in my head
But then that voice in my head would start, complaining about how great my daughters’ dad had it and how bad I had it.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how unfair it was.
I would have horrible thoughts in my head. I kept wishing bad things to happen to him because of what he did to me. I wouldn’t wish him dead because that would be too easy. I wouldn’t seek revenge because I don’t do that. I leave it in God’s hands.
I didn’t want to do anything to negatively affect my life.
The thoughts kept coming
I kept wishing something would happen to him like he would get paralyzed and couldn’t walk ever again. I would imagine seeing him laying on the ground suffering because he got stabbed or injured. I would walk by while he was begging me for help.
I imagined looking down at him with hatred and saying “screw you”.
My thoughts were beginning to have their effect on my life
I was spending too much time, thinking horrible thoughts and hating him. It was affecting me badly. One time a guy was trying to talk to me because he expressed interest in me. I wouldn’t even talk to him because all could think was “All he wants is to get in my pants”.
I would be so rude to men.
All this stuff about her dad I was thinking, all the hatred, I talked about with everyone I knew. I realized I was spending so much time on these thoughts. Besides, he was enjoying life and living great with probably not a thought in his head about me.
So I was a prisoner of such ill and hateful thoughts and he was free.
There was no way in heck I would ever forgive the guy who raped me, who laid his unwanted hands on me, that said degrading things to me.
I mean how could anyone forgive someone like that, right?
Was there something here for me to learn?
As the years went by I started listening to people like Oprah on TV. She would say how we have to forgive people who have hurt us. That it would free us. Of course, I thought she didn’t know what she was talking about. Although she went through abuse as well.
Could forgiveness really set us free?
I kept on hearing other people talk about how they had to forgive the person that killed their child. Or forgive the one that sexually abused them when they young. I heard them all say that if we sit there and harbor these resentful feelings inside we end up treating other people badly.
Why waste time thinking about hate while others are walking around free?
I started to get it. I really got it when I started studying self-development and self-improvement. I really understood it the most when I studied the Bible.
I found a lot of self-development and self-improvement comes from the Bible.
I learned that people who are unable to forgive carried such deep resentment that every decision they made was based on that resentment. Resentment ran their life and eventually it made them ill. I decided I was not going to let resentment run my life.
I let go and I forgave and now I live free.
I never think those horrible thoughts ever anymore. I speak to my daughters’ dad every now and then, whenever if I have to. My daughter is nineteen so she communicates with him herself.
If God can forgive us of our sins then we as humans should be able to do the same.
This story is published in Koinonia — stories by Christians to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family and fun.