A Change in Perspective

ImageThere is no denying, my head has been in a bit of a quandary of late as I grapple with the concept of forgiveness and healing.  I seem trapped within painful childhood memories and the subsequent psychological damage weighs heavy.  Many of the things I have only just been revealing on this blog for the very first time. 

I believe many of us have a burning desire to exorcise the demons, to put a stop to PSH syndrome (Pain, Shame & Humiliation).  The forgiveness we seek for our abusers actions are more about finding inner peace for ourselves.  The “acceptance” we strive for is the realisation that we can do nothing about our past.  Believing that we are not to blame can heal the shame and humiliation.  This fuels us toward moving on and ultimately finding inner peace.

I might ponder some words of fellow-bloggers for days.  However, each time, there is an Imageindescribable feeling, as if there is some kind of mental block to fully grasping what people are trying to share.  Today, I may have stumbled on what that obstacle is.

Somehow, I have been expecting this process of healing to turn the painful memories into bearable ones – as if all of a sudden, I would no longer have the same traumatic memories from childhood and that this newfound healing might dispel all the anger and disgust for some of my parent’s actions.  I am not sure if that is achievable after all.

Perhaps there are some things in life that we are not able to find complete forgiveness.  Somehow, forgiving the abuser feels a bit like excusing their behaviour.  No matter how much we come to terms with our past, those memories might always be painful.

ImageI’m wondering if it is more about learning to sit with our pain and how we process it throughout the rest of our lives.  This is no longer about the abusers.  They will seldom admit their disgusting behaviour or strive to make things better.  Indeed, they are even less likely to change.  This journey of survival is all about US.

Maybe it is all about nurturing the child within and forgiving ourselves for the people we became as a direct result of the abuse – of finding enough acceptance to believe that none of the abuse was our fault, obliterating the deep shame and humiliation.

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42 thoughts on “A Change in Perspective

  1. Bourbon

    There we go. I’m glad you could get your head around the whole forgiveness is what we need to do to ourselves, not the abusers notion. xx

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  2. brokenbutbeingrepaired

    Good for you, Cat. Am so pleased for you that you’ve come to this realisation.

    Its something my counsellor has said to me many times and I know it cognitively but for me it’s the struggle of bridging the gap between knowing ‘in the head’ into knowing ‘in the heart’….if that makes sense.

    Take good care Cat.

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    1. Cat

      I’m still at the stage where it somewhere between the head and heart, but will try stick with it

      Thanks for commenting. Hope you’re doing okay (?)

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      1. brokenbutbeingrepaired

        Hi Cat,

        Not got many words this evening; but just want to let you know again how brilliantly you’re doing.
        You’ll build that ‘bridge’ between your head and your heart, just look how far you’ve come, already.

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  3. mindretrofit8

    I think you just gave words to what I have done without realizing it. I do know over the past year I gave up on the word forgiveness in general. It has too many confusing meanings for me it is much like the word love. Those words do not mean the same thing to me as they do to others. For me, I had to change the words to acceptance somehow it has helped me to move forward.

    Maybe I will go back to forgiveness, maybe that is what forgiveness is to me – acceptance. It has been the only way that I find any peace within myself. I am referring to accepting myself – I cannot even consider my feelings toward my abusers yet. They have had enough of my time, I am focusing on me now. I hope that all made sense. Your post made me think and I typed it all out. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing!! May you spend some time nurturing yourself! (((HUGS)))

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    1. Cat

      What you say makes sense. I also have issues with words like ‘love’ ‘friendship’ and, of course, ‘forgiveness’. Acceptance of our past definitely brings healing. Yes, it is about OUR healing. The abusers are no longer important

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  4. Sandra

    I relate. I recently re-started blogging with the intent of writing about parental anecdotes, but shortly into my blog posts, I started dealing with the abuse of my past. Now my blog is used as a forum to exorcise my demons as well. I think the comments are supportive, but there is always the pain, no matter how lovely and tender my friends are to me. I wish you much healing. Continue on your journey. You have no idea how many lives you touch. You have just touched one more.

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    1. Cat

      If this journey also touches others, then I’m touched. Blogging is a wonderful place to exorcise those demons. I’ll certainly be dropping by your blog

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  5. Stigma Hurts Everyone

    That is wonderful progress…what you know in your mind intellectually can take years before it catches up to your heart. I have learned that over the years. Took me many many years to realize that forgiving does not mean forgetting and I kept waiting for the forgetting to happen…it doesn’t…but it hurts a little less over time…our reaction is not as intense over time…and that scar that forms after the healing is a reminder of that huge battle you have survived and wear your scars with pride…they are badges of honour and resilience. Namaste

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    1. Cat

      Yes, I was also waiting on the forgetting to happen. That new realisation is still half way between my head and my heart, but it is progress. Many thanks for dropping by, appreciated.

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  6. survivor55

    To me, you hit the nail on the head with your last words, ” . . . none of the abuse was our fault, obliterating the deep shame and humiliation.” And for me to heal throughout the years, this is what it took — and continues to take since the abuser whose results gave me a diagnosis of PTSD is still in my life, even if on the perimeter.

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    1. Cat

      The abusers are also still in my life. It makes healing that little bit more difficult. I suspect I have PTSD from childhood, but this is a relatively new realisation. Thank you for reading and commenting, it means a great deal.

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  7. karenbethc

    Forgiveness has been and still is a huge part of the struggle of my healing until I let go of it “having” to be something I needed to do.

    The most important thing for you to do is to heal yourself before you find what forgiveness means for you. Some people say forgiving is a part of the healing and we can’t heal until we forgive.. I am on the fence with that. people who say that are those who were not abused, who were not raped, who were not beaten on a daily basis – easier said than done.

    I always look at it this way… my empowerment comes from finding the strength to look at my past in the face and no longer run from it. Maybe forgiveness will find it’s way into my life, but I am not longer looking for the power to forgive – rather I am looking for the power to overcome

    GREAT write .. you are powerful …

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    1. Cat

      Not being able to heal unless we forgive is not something I feel comfortable with. You are right, those who make such claims do not know the impact of child abuse.

      As always, thanks for dropping by and offering very kind words

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  8. hiddenwholeness

    So true, forgiveness is for us, for our hearts. I believe our healing is impossible fully and wholly unless we forgive, and it’s a bit of a journey like all the rest of it. Thanks for writing this, it’s been on my mind the past few days and so many other bloggers’ too, so very timely. Well done for being open, its your strength. Lovely writing too 🙂

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  9. Leslie's Illusions

    I really enjoyed this. It is a pleasure to read a thoughtful post about forgiveness. I have spent a lot of time pondering it myself.

    In particular, I liked it when you said, “I’m wondering if it is more about learning to sit with our pain and how we process it throughout the rest of our lives.” That is so close to how I see it….the only difference is that I think that by learning to sit with out pain eventually we can be freed of it. I believe forgiveness means “what you did doesn’t hurt me any more”, and it stems from just what you said–learning to sit with our pain. But we don’t have to sit with it forever, things will get better. I have heard and read this from other survivors, and I have experienced a glimpse of it myself….enough to give me hope to keep trying.

    Again, great post.

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    1. Cat

      Hi Leslie. I have also spent many years pondering forgiveness, unable to move forward because I have failed to understand the concept. The impact of abuse can make forgiveness feel impossible. As you say, eventually, we can be free from the pain… it all just takes time..

      Many thanks for dropping by and leaving such a lovely comment

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  10. myspokenheart

    Cat, I think you hit the nail on the head:

    “Maybe it is all about nurturing the child within and forgiving ourselves for the people we became as a direct result of the abuse – of finding enough acceptance to believe that none of the abuse was our fault, obliterating the deep shame and humiliation.”

    I also think that as you learn to nurture, accept and forgive yourself you begin to see yourself more clearly. Through this clearer vision you can then begin to take steps towards changing the things about you that really bother you.

    We are always changing, life continually throws things at us and these things build who we are, this process goes on until we die, but we can learn to be more in control over who we become as we learn to truly accept ourselves and to understand why we are what we are. (I think it is impossible to create real change, to be able to assess a true definition of who we want to be without first acknowledging and accepting the truth of who and where we are – no matter how ugly and painful). As we learn to see ourselves honestly we can begin to take steps towards who we want to be. Of course there are some things about ourselves that we need to just accept as is, and know that change may not always come, or at least not the way we had hoped, and of course none of it is ever easy… sigh…

    *Hugz* MSH

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    1. Cat Post author

      It’s never easy but it is made all the better by having people like you leaving such thought provoking and supportive comments. Thank you MSH

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  11. Aife

    Wow I disappear for a few days and you become quite the popular blogger…good for you! I like the idea of acceptance over the word forgiveness and the idea of sitting with our pain and processing it until we are from it and able to move forward in our healing…excellent post Cat.

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    1. Cat

      Thank you Aife, I did wonder where you were. Your words are very kind and encouraging. I have been struggling with the entire concept of forgiveness for many years. I’ve been stuck, but maybe because “forgiveness” is not always appropriate. Acceptance is something I can work on. I’m so touched that you can relate

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  12. RisingSong

    Hi Cat,

    I just wanted to leave a comment to let you know how much I enjoyed this post. I have benefitted, not only form your beautiful writing, but from the comments of your supporters. I wish I had something thoughtful and insightful to share, but I don’t. I’m afraid I am still stuck at “Somehow, forgiving the abuser feels a bit like excusing their behaviour.”

    Thank you for writing so eloquently about this topic. I am right there with you, and this post and it’s comments have given me a lot to think about.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi RS… You don’t need to say anything thoughtful or insightful, the mere fact that you read and get something from it, means more than anything. You and all the supporters of this blog are more than I ever imagined was possible.

      I may give the impression that I am suddenly enlightened but, TBH, I am still reluctant to “forgive” the abuser. I do not agree that forgiveness is the only way we can heal. There are things that we cannot forgive, people that will never deserve to be forgiven. However, we deserve to forgive ourselves and I think this is more appropriate for us to work on.

      One last thing, RS. I know I don’t know a lot about you, but what I have read does not sound like you are stuck on anything. There might be things that are still too difficult to address, but you are moving forward with the most important of all – yourself.

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      1. RisingSong

        Thank you Cat. It’s good to get someone else’s perspective, as it is difficult to see yourself grow sometimes.

        I think “forgiveness” might be one of those things that are just too difficult for me to address at the moment, but you and your commenters have given me a different way to look at it – namely that it is not necessarily the abuser we need to forgive, but maybe ourselves. And that the word “acceptance” may be more palatable than the word “forgiveness” but just as effective in helping us heal.

        This is a pearl that I can always carry with me.

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  13. Erik Andrulis

    “none of the abuse was our fault, obliterating the deep shame and humiliation.”

    And then there is the alternative, perhaps more frightening concept, the Truth: *All* of the abuse is My fault. I did it to Myself.

    Seeing things this way, and embracing this, I am humbled in knowing how horrible I have been to Myself.

    Only then can I forgive My transgressions against Myself.

    Only then can I begin to heal all the hurt and pain and suffering.

    Best wishes at finding peace of mind, my friend.

    Peace on Earth, Ik

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Erik. Nice to hear from you. I’m not so sure your comment is a more frightening concept. It’s true, we are responsible for the people we became, responsible for our own self abuse.

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  14. Cate Reddell

    “I have been expecting this process of healing to turn the painful memories into bearable ones.”
    Damn it! I was waiting for this but I admit what you say makes total sense. Still, I’m waiting anyway…

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  15. kalabalu

    Although it is about forgiving the abuser
    But its to free myself from pain
    it lingers in mind , driving me insane
    who can forget the sharpness of words
    and inflicting pains of trauma , like swords
    Yet..one must hope..and be strong to move forward
    leaving past behind ..like a jungle wood

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    1. Cat Post author

      We can only strive to move forward and find peace and forgiveness for ourselves first…

      Thank you for dropping by and taking the time to comment. It is appreciated.

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  16. Gel

    Hi Cat,
    I’m new to your blog but I’ve been seeing your comments at other blogs I visit. So this is the first of your posts I’ve read. Really like it. I like how you think and write. I too have been grappling with what forgiveness is, what is the process. I came upon an article written by a Buddhist on forgiveness and it really expressed something about forgiveness that I’ve had an inkling about but hadn’t gotten clearly in my mind and heart. I’m wondering if you’d find it valuable too. I usually don’t like to give suggestions but I’ll stretch here just to let you know it’s available. I excerpted a bit of the article in a post at my blog and wrote my own thoughts about it and also included a link to the article. So feel free to read or not….

    http://gentleperseverence.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/the-most-helpful-thing-ive-ever-read-on-forgiveness/

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Gel… welcome to my blog! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Thank you for the link to your blog on forgiveness, I will check it out.

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  17. aronjoice

    Cat, first thank you for the like and follow. For what this is worth please think about my words. You do not have to accept anything. Acceptance is approval or favorable reception, however acknowledging actions or transgressions will help you move a little bit forward. There isn’t forgiveness for unforgivable actions. No one can walk in your shoes and it is a lonely walk for sure. All of you please believe you have done no wrong and I pray for continued strength and peace.
    Cat, since you visited my blog, go back to the sidebar and click Athena Brady. She is a remarkable woman who I believe may help you.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I understand exactly what you are saying. It just takes a little longer to absorb and apply, if that makes sense.
      I did already join Athena’s blog, thanks for the recommendation.

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  18. Athena Brady

    Hi Cat, there is a chapter in my book were I portray the inner child and adult joining together again. It was one of those light bulb moments, if you want to read it let me know.

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    1. Cat Post author

      forgive me if I’m repeating myself here. I tend to get confused with comments and wordpress only seem to publish so many comments per post. I would love to read that chapter, thanks

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