Thursday, October 08, 2009

The F Word

No, it's not that word.

I don't need to discuss that word. That word, for me, is the colored marshmallow in my breakfast cereal; totally unnecessary, no doubt bad for me, and I'm going to eat it just the same. It keeps my head from exploding and prevents aneurysms.

The other "F" word I'm going to touch on today is actually more highly charged in my mind. It is forgiveness.

Up to this point, I've been under the impression that forgiveness meant condoning the action. Forgiveness meant throwing open my arms and saying "You were right! You didn't have any control and I'm so sorry for all your personal misery."

Yeah. That ain't gonna happen.

I even discussed forgiveness with my therapist and I asked if I needed to forgive in order to move on and be healthy in my own head. She said I didn't.

But I have had the opportunity to discuss the concept of forgiveness with a person from the criminal justice system recently. (And no, it wasn't the MN Sex Offender's Program.)

Forgiveness looks a lot different when the relationship is not going to continue. It isn't about communication and dialogue and rebuilding trust and going forward from this moment with a clean slate. It isn't about condoning an action. It isn't about making excuses or accepting excuses.

It basically involves cessation of negative actions against that person.

It basically means that you take that two ton weight that is around your neck and you set it down and you walk away.

Oh yeah, and you won't stand outside the prison gate with a shotgun on release day.

Framed like this, I can see where, someday, I could get there. I don't know if I would call it forgiveness, I think apathy is a more apt description. I have days where I can actually do apathy. That is an easier concept for me because I can honestly say "You've done nothing but negatively impact my life for nearly 18 years. I'm not going to expend anymore energy on you. You aren't worth it."

But I suppose when the last bit of legalese is finished, I get to call my apathy "forgiveness". Perhaps forgiveness is apathy on steroids? There are just a couple more legal hurdles as far as STBX goes and then I might have to meditate on my belly button for awhile.

The hardest part, the one that will take a lifetime, is to forgive myself. I can learn all about how pedophiles are masters at manipulation and I can be stunned by the concept of "lying by omission" that was the trademark of STBX's modus operandi. I can learn about the wheels of power and see how I was a cog in the great machine. I can learn all of the concepts and the vocabulary and see the statistics laid out in front of me.

But to acknowledge the weight of the three rocks lashed to my back, labeled "You could have...", "You should have...", and "You didn't" and then set them down and walk away?

I'm working on it.


Anonymous said...

The only way I have survived without collapsing into a quivering shadow is to understand things like this more objectively - as in science or philosophy.

Forgiveness isn't really about forgiving the person that harmed you as much as it is forgiving yourself for not knowing and/or not doing/leaving/taking actions to prevent harm until all lives were irrevocably altered forever.

Forgiveness is a nurturing sort of energy a wise mother gives her child when he makes a mistake so that he can learn and forgive himself and understand the world does not end with this.

In science, energy is just that. Your thoughts and emotions are energy. When a person has daily thoughts of "A", they are putting that energy towards "A". There is a connection made. Like plugging into an outlet and drawing power.

To forgive yourself is nurturing and healing and gives you room to till new soil and plant new seed.

To "forgive" someone who has harmed you so deeply is pointless as they will not change in any way - other than to writhe from your shutting them down in your thoughts. They no longer exist for you as you continue forward and onward into the tomorrow of your life. They become nothing.

You have started this process by changing your name and cleaning the house. You are continuing by changing your life through schooling and planning your future.

It is inevitable that you hold him in your thoughts daily. It also takes time to heal. Deep wounds leave clear scars.

You still live at the scene of the crime. The chalk outlines will remain on the floors forever. The ghosts will forever knock in the walls and walk down your halls of the place you try to make home.

Forgive yourself first. Make peace in your heart and heal. When you stop the CPR on the s**t in the brick house, he will disappear on his own from lack of power.

One day at a time. For real.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can hate, few can forgive and move on. I know, for a fact, that you will move on. As always you are in our prayers and thoughts.
Tabatha (Friend in Folsom)

Shelly said...

What Anon said (and said perfectly, I might add...)

For me, Forgiveness is something I do in order to not live with that ugly anymore. It is not to "Forget". It is only to set yourself free of the anger. I forgive both of my exes--would I ever live with either of them again? No--because I won't forget what it felt like to be in that sh*t. I'm always a little amazed and saddened when I see women (like my STBX's first wife) who basically follow their ex (mentally) everywhere, wallowing in the crap, or adding more misery of their own--it might be the saddest thing, ever. After all, why divorce someone if you're just going to keep "living" with them in this way? I choose not to chase the misery.

Great post!