I know about this being an essential part of my faith, and I feel guilty if I don't. The question is, am I wrong for it? Forgiveness means that I make peace with the past - when I am ready for it. Forgiveness means NOT giving absolution to those who hurt me in the sense that I say it didn't matter what they did.
This is a quote I read the other day that really helped me understand.
“Why should you? First they steal everything else from you, and then they
want forgiveness too? Let them get their own. You’ve given enough!”
The thing is, he doesn’t want forgiveness. I am pretty sure he died without the slightest trace of regret about what he did to me, to so many other little girls. He never asked for forgiveness, why should I run after him? It is throwing pearls to pigs.
I dunno how often I have heard this in the Christian legalist wanker community. You have to forgive or God can’t forgive you. So he/she has hurt you? Abused you? And you are angry? Have you forgiven him/her yet?
As if it is the easiest thing to do. So on top of being hurt, and this never being acknowledged, and even me being forbidden to feel hurt or angry, because anger is not of the Lord (talk about some fucked up theology), I am made to feel guilty for not being able to forgive. For not even wanting to. Do I have to?
Or even threatened that I will go to hell if I don’t forgive.
“To find out exactly what forgiveness is, we looked in the dictionary and(p150; Bass, E. & Davis, L., 1988, “The Courage to Heal”, London: Cedar)
found these definitions: (a) to cease to feel resentment against an offender;
(b) to give up claim to requital; to grant relief from payment.
There are, then, two elements in what we call forgiveness. One is that you give up your anger and no longer hold the abuser to blame; you excuse them for what they did to you. The other element is that you no longer try to get some kind of
compensation from the abuser. You give up trying to get financial compensation,
a statement of guilt, an apology, respect, love, understanding – anything.
Separating these two aspects of forgiveness makes it possible to clarify what is
and what is not necessary in order to heal…”
I am a long way from that. I simply can’t pretend nothing has happened, and I can’t act as if it doesn’t bother me anymore, because that is not true. It has changed everything about me. And being released from this pseudo-responsibility takes a huge weight off me. I see the two elements; I cannot give the first, but I can give the second. And not out of kindness; except out of kindness to myself.
I do not want anything from him, not an apology, not gifts, not money, nothing… everything would be contaminated by the filth he is. His apology would not be worth shit, and it would not change anything. I just want to close this chapter, not repress it, not ignore it. I want to come to healing, to a resolution that frees me from him, from any obligation to give or receive anything from him, from being connected to him in any way, from him having any more power over my life.
But I am a long way from there, and I will not pressure myself to forgive anymore.
As Ellen Bass said, it will be a by-product… but it isn’t the goal. My goal is to be whole.
I am only beginning to excavate what I have buried. Not in terms of memories, but in terms of self. Damn, I do remember too clearly.
My little self is under the surface, screaming, and I can feel her rising into my throat like a bubble of black agony and loneliness, ready to burst, somehow myself and somehow being someone else, someone who is ready to get reconnected to my bigger self, bringing all her cancers and ulcers back into my system, banging against the doors I had welded shut years ago, while I try to open them from the inside, asking myself what the hell I am doing there, calling myself mad for letting the loony invade my life again.
I cannot forgive in the place of someone else. It's not that big old me that should forgive. It's the little girl. I am not gonna silence her anymore. But I am fuckin scared to look into her face.