Monday, 8 October 2012

Forgiveness can set you free (or so I'm told)

I have lived most of my life filled with hatred for both my parents. Heaven knows, they were easy to hate. But hatred is like a pool of acid in your gut - it eats you up from inside leaving behind a huge, empty space where your soul should have been. If you live with hatred for too long, it will destroy you. And it does absolutely nothing to the person you hate.

Its a bit like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

How could one possibly forgive those who abused you?

Forgiveness means letting go of that hatred - draining the pool of acid, and allowing your soul to heal. Forgiveness does not mean that what they did is suddenly OK or acceptable, only that you will no longer allow them to control your emotions and thereby your life. Neither hatred nor forgiveness make any difference to the offender, but it makes a radical change to your ability to heal, and to grow as a person.



Forgiving my abusers

Early last year, I decided that I needed to purge, to rid myself of the pool of hatred I was carrying around inside me. I was tired of being angry. I wanted to find my mother, to look her in the eyes, and hear from her why she left us. I wanted to know how she could leave us with an abusive man, why she didn't take us when he went to jail, why she was never "mom", even when she was still our mother. I wanted to tell her about the abuse, about the drugs, about attempting suicide. I wanted her to know how she had helped to destroy our lives. I wanted to hear her say "I'm sorry".

After that, I wanted to forgive her.

It was surprisingly easy to find her - it took only 10 minutes on& Facebook. We exchanged message through Facebook for a while before she told us that she had a letter she wanted us to read. She had written it years ago, but could never send it because she didn't have an address.

The letter was a revelation. It explained how she had been abused as a child herself, and more pertinently - how the abuse had caused her to develop multiple personalities. It explained that her confusing mood swings and haphazard behaviour was due to different personalities. Above all, it explained that the woman who left us and later refused custody, did not have children and resented the fact that she was expected to take care of three strange boys.

The letter also explained that there were parts who loved us, and wanted to be a good mother to us.

The letter didn't take away the years of suffering, but it helped us to understand.

I no longer hate my mother. She still isn't "mom" to me, and probably never will be. There has just been too much water under the bridge. But the acid has been drained. The hole isn't growing any more. We talk occasionally  She has met my daughter once. We will probably never have a healthy mother/son relationship, but we are acquaintances. Where she is concerned, I have found closure and the peace that only closure can bring.

Forgiving my father is harder. It is still very much a work in progress. There is nothing that could ever make me understand why a man would rape his own son. But I'm working at it. I'm working at letting go of the hatred. I have progressed to the point where the thought of what he did no longer fills me with blind rage, but rather with sadness. Sadness hurts more than anger, but it is less destructive to the rest of my life. Perhaps one day I will be able to remember without any emotion.

Forgiving my foster father is the hardest. At this stage, I am merely trying to remember that he is dead and gone. The world has one less arsehole on it, and is a better, safer place for it. I am hopeful that in time, I will be able to forgive him too and finally live without hatred eating at my soul.

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