Forgiveness: not a Matter of Forgetting

Posted: November 21, 2011 in abuse, Empowerment, recovery, relationships, respect, survival, survivor
Tags: , , , , ,

For this post, I want to focus on a quote I recently heard that really struck home with me:

Forgiveness: letting go of the demand that the past be different then it was.

This is not a matter of “forgive and forget”.

Read the quote again. Really read it. I am saying nothing along the lines of “put the past in the past”, or “move forward”, or “simply forget it”. This is a matter of changing a repetitive cycle. It is a matter of not only changing the loop on the tape, but inserting an entirely new cassette and veering in a whole new direction.

Forgiveness is not about him. It is about you.

Recently I have come to a place where I have been able to forgive myself, and thus be more forgiving of those who wronged me.

This is why I had to forgive myself first: I hold so much guilt and such a burden of shame, that I have realized that I not only carry it as a mental and psychological anchor, but it is also physical. You can see the “weight” of my pain in the excess pounds I carry on my frame, which makes my shame visible to others. It is there every time I hear the “voices” berate myself for something I didn’t do “correctly”. It is there every time I take out the anger I feel for myself out on someone else with a raised voice.

I had to forgive myself to save myself from continuing to repeat the same patterns. Forgiveness of self leads to more loving and more gentle feelings. I have noticed I am not as harsh with myself or others. My anger is gone, my anxiety has lessened. I sleep much better, and more consistently. The relationships that were strained due to my rage have improved. And I am now down 11 pounds without putting in much effort, or depriving myself.

Forgiving myself has made me realize that I am getting towards a place where I can forgive others.

But I have to tell you how I define forgiveness first:

To me, forgiveness is acknowledging what happened, and what they did to me, and coming to some form of acceptance in order for me to move on with my life.

By remaining unforgiving, it feels to me like I maintain a bond with my abusers, and that is the last thing I want to do. I do not want to continue to give them power over me. Or to give another man the chance to take my power away.

I have also accepted that I had a role to play in the abusive situations I found myself in. While I did not provoke the actions of others for them to mistreat me, I do acknowledge that because I was abused as a child, there was something in me looking to “repair” the abuse. The fact that almost every relationship repeated the pattern forced me to look at my own behaviour and what responsibility I held.

I was trying to change the past. But by trying to change the past, I was blind to the future I could possibly have. I was blind to the possibilities open to me. I was blind to my own talents and potential that was being wasted by men who were not worth my time.

It is not possible to forget what has happened. The abuse has formed me into the person I am today, and even though I wish the journey had been different, I am starting to like who I am.

I remember the past so that my future can be different. And I forgive that past, so I can have a brighter future.

Stay safe ❤

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