Let’s talk about one of the most difficult things we can do: forgive.
To forgive does not mean we are saying that what happened was acceptable. It also does not mean we will forget.
Forgiveness is about acknowledging the facts of what happened, while turning the tables to find the opportunities in our experiences.
This is a crucial step in finding our strength—not despite what happened, but because of it. Our greatest strength can be found deep within our weakness.
Forgiving my abuser after 10 years of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, from the age of two to the age of twelve, was not about me resigning myself to thinking that what he did was acceptable. It was about understanding the facts.
He had his own life experiences before he was introduced to me. He brought his own experiences, need for control, and anger into his relationship with my family, and with me. Therefore, his abuse of me stemmed from his own issues. It wasn’t about me. Him abusing me was about him, his life, and his experiences and choices. I was just there. And if I wasn’t there, someone else would have been. He was not attacking me—he was attacking.
I believe that my greatest lesson to learn in life is my value and worth. In order to find my value and worth, I have to learn to fully love, respect, and accept myself. I need to find my inner strength and turn my weaknesses into my greatest strengths.
Truly understanding that my abuse ultimately opened the door for me to learn my greatest life lesson allowed me to see the experience with different eyes.
That being said, I’m never going to seek him out and thank him for teaching me such a valuable lesson. Nope! That’s not what forgiveness of this magnitude is about.
Ultimately, he did not teach me the lesson at all. Instead, he provided me the opportunity to teach it to myself.
His abuse left me so vulnerable and shattered that I could have easily allowed that to be my life. And I did, for another decade and some. But when I decided enough was enough, I crawled out of that hole. He wasn’t there lifting me out and offering up a hand to grab. I crawled out using my own mental, emotional, and spiritual strength.
And here’s the thing: I would not have needed to fight so hard to get out of the hole if I hadn’t been thrown into it in the first place. I found my strength because of my greatest weakness. And he was the cause of that weakness.
Now, I understand that if he had never come into my life at all, this would still have been my life lesson. Someone else would have risen to the challenge and attempted to help me learn my value and worth. And they may have gone about it in a totally different way. They may have been loving and supportive, giving me the safe childhood every young being deserves.
But they were not placed in my life—he was. I cannot control or change that. But I can accept it. These were the cards I was dealt, so to speak.
I can now choose to carry this feeling of victimization around with me for all eternity, or I can forgive him. By forgiving him, I am really forgiving his inability to help me with my life lesson in a positive way. I am also forgiving myself for my own inability to see the lesson for so long. This allows me to release myself from my previous attachment to him. Rather than hate him for what he has done, forgiving and releasing him honors me and my commitment to learning my life lesson. And that is exactly what I’ve done.
I’ve fought hard to rewrite the negative script playing on a continuous loop in my head—the one he placed there. I’ve chosen to look at life differently, to force myself to alter my beliefs about myself so much that they become my new reality.
For me, that is what this all comes down to—choice. Do I choose to ignore my life lesson because of the horrible way it was presented to me, or do I grab hold of the opportunity before me to learn that lesson fully and completely?
I chose the latter. What will you choose?