Sunday, August 13, 2006

Forgiveness

I know—it’s unusual to seem me post so often in a week but...

The third edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is about to be posted. For more info go to: PTSD Today Carnival Post.

One of the things WW is looking for is a post about forgiveness. And that’s a big issue for most people. It’s an even stickier issue for people who were abused as children.

I believe that for people who were abused as children, forgiveness comes in steps.

Step 1: Acknowledge that what was done to you was horrible. As children, we often took on the blame and protected the abusive adults. It’s important to look at those beliefs and realize we did not deserve what happened and that we have a right to be angry about it!

Step 2: Look at our lives now and realize we do have the power NOW to create the lives we want to have. Decide that we will find a way to be happy and to take the steps we need to take to do so. In other words, take back control of our lives.

Step 3: Really see others with all their hurts and fears. I believe that all harm comes out of the person’s fears and hurts and shame.

Step 4: Forgive the person for being so hurt and scared and needing to hurt us because they were.

NOTE: Forgiveness is NOT:
1) Allowing abuse to continue. We can forgive harm done to us and still take protective action to prevent ourselves or others from being hurt again as we were.
2) Minimizing the harm that was done or saying it doesn’t matter.
3) Forgetting or pretending it never happened.

Forgiveness IS letting go of the hurt and anger inside us. It IS choosing to stop putting our energy into rage and instead put it into creating the lives we want to have. It IS something we do for ourselves. We may never vocalize our forgiveness to the person who hurt us—especially if it’s not safe to do so. But we will immediately feel the change inside ourselves when we forgive. It IS letting go of the past so that we can move forward—loving and laughing and being happy.

Anger held onto too long is like a poison inside of us. We may need anger at one stage to get us to walk away from someone or some situation that is abusive but once we have used it to do so, we only hurt ourselves if we cling to the anger.

The more we focus on creating what we want in our lives, the less we need to hold onto the anger. The more we let go of that anger, the more energy we have to draw on to create the lives we want to have.

So...forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. That’s my take on it anyway.

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),
April_optimist

5 comments:

john michael said...

Hi April

Good to see your take on forgiveness because i think it is one of the really hard things for abuse survivors to handle. it is so hard for them to forgive themselves and to let go of the hurt is so tremendously difficult.

nice post

john and keepers

brian said...

Hi April,

Forgiveness for myself has been a long time coming. I have always felt like a failure and that if I had only been better the abuse wouldn't have happened. As for my parents, I haven't spoken to my father in 20 years. I said I had forgiven him, but today I feel pity for him that he couldn't overcome his childhood abuse and instead passed it on.

Brian aka hummingbunny

April_optimist said...

John Michael and Brian,

I started to answer here and then realized it needs a whole post--about forgiving ourselves, I mean.

If we forgive ourselves it means maybe accepting that we were powerless at the time and that's hard. But as I said, I'm going to do an entire post on forgiving ourselves.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Thanks for posting this for the carnival, April. I came a long way toward forgiving my father because of what you said--the poison of hate eating away at me. I did it for myself first and foremost. I also--surpirsingly--started to feel compassion for this lost soul.

April_optimist said...

Marj,

WTG!!! Good for you! And I bet you feel better, now, too. I bet it freed up energy you could use to make your life what you want it to be.