This Crazy Notion of Forgiveness…

If our abusers said they were sorry and asked for our forgiveness, would it make any difference to the emotional pain?  Would it have the potential to soothe the trauma and bring us healing?

I doubt it would make any difference to my child within. Victims/survivors of abuse need a safe place to explore their painful memories; “sorry” is seldom a short cut to healing.

My childhood friend, Stewart, was a huge part of my life, the comradeship strengthened by our encounters with sexual abuse by a neighbour.

The fields surrounding the street where we lived were every child’s dream of freedom, but the dangers of the local slate quarry must have been a parent’s nightmare.

There was an enormous basin carved out at the heart of the quarry and the local kids would build rafts from old oil drums, with little concern for a drowning the previous summer.  I cannot remember being told not to go there, but it probably featured somewhere in the rulebook.

When Stewart and I arrived home, I didn’t even realise I was dirty from the slate dust, but keeping clean had never been an issue before. I ran indoors still pumped up from the excitement of a hot summer’s day.

I was usually good at reading facial expressions, but my guard was down that day and I had no way of detecting the impending danger

“Dad, can I have a drink of water and a…”

Before I got the chance to finish the sentence, there was an almighty flash of bright light, as Dad’s thickset hand came crashing down hard on the side of my face, sending pain searing through my ear. It felt as though I was flying through the air in slow motion, my back hit the floor as my head bounced off the concrete wall.

As I attempted to catch my breath, Dad’s flaying feet and fists pinned my defenseless body to the floor.  I could hear him shout above the ringing in my ears, “Look at the colour of you, you’re filthy.”

We lived in a block of flats, but there was never any concern for the neighbours overhearing the beatings because I seldom made a sound.  The hollow thuds from his fists are what permeate the black hole of silence.

I stayed in bed with the covers over my head, terrified in case he heard me breathe, his blows throbbing in the darkness, but the physical pain is nothing in comparison to the emotional violation.

He terrified me, he still does.  I hated him more than I could ever admit.  I used to vow never to forget or forgive. Childhood pain has no concept of time, the trauma feels just as bad today as it did back then.

How can we consider this crazy notion of forgiveness…?

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31 thoughts on “This Crazy Notion of Forgiveness…

  1. myspokenheart

    I think you posted why we consider the crazy notion… your last picture… It’s not for the abuser’s sake… God forbid! no it’s not for them… it for you, for your sake… for your health… for your sanity… for your ultimate healing… unforgiveness is a cancer that eats away at you and makes you hard and bitter and holds love at bay… bitterness is a root that burrows into your heart… bitterness & unforgiveness are twins that work together – their sole purpose is your destruction… and they are both so smooth and convincing… because they speak truth… your abusers do not deserve your forgiveness… it’s true they don’t… BUT YOU DO! you deserve to be free from the intensity of the hurt… will forgiveness make it all go away… no… but it sure helps… it helps to make room for the good things… it frees up space that has been used to harbour the twins and their friends – hatred, anger, resentment, guilt, shame… and many others

    *HUGZ* Andrea…

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks Andrea and it is nice to learn your name.

      I do understand what you are saying. Bitterness and unforgiveness are the balls of our chain’s. The more I consider this forgiveness idea, the more confusing it gets. If I’m not to forgive the abusers, then who? Me? I really don’t know if I have anything to forgive myself for, certainly not throughout any of these situations.

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      1. myspokenheart

        It’s them you need to forgive… but not for them… you don’t need to tell them you have forgiven, or want to forgive, or need to… you don’t need to talk to them or tell them anything… it may even be more that you forgive them for being who they were/are, that you understand that they took their issues out on you a small boy and that it doesn’t lessen what they have done, or take it away, but that you are ready to move on and let it rest in the past… it sadly will always be a part of who you are, but it doesn’t have to control you… I think that is how this crazy forgiveness thing is supposed to work… I think it’s about moving forward and coming to terms with the hurt and the fact that it occurred, but no longer allowing it to hold you back…

        Andrea – I hope you find the peace you are looking for Cat

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    2. Cat

      Considering the dysfunction in their own families, I can understand about forgiving the people they became. I hope that revealing the abuse will help with coming to terms and moving forward.

      You are a gem, Andrea!

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  2. Charity

    Cat, I am really sorry you hurt both physically and emotionally. It is the job of every parent to provide, protect and nurture. It’s bad enough when parents don’t do those things and even worse when they rob, destroy and mock their children.

    I wish you the best in all you do as you deal with your pain and setbacks. Just know you’re not alone.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you Charity. I know you completely understand and I do appreciate your c support. Thanks for reading and commenting

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  3. rootstoblossom

    forgiveness for abuse does not mean you excuse what they did or even understand. It means you accept that it happened and are ready to close the door on that past, not let it hurt you and overpower you any more. Only from this distance, with that door shut, can you learn to love yourself the way your parents never did, mourn and grieve for the childhood you did not have, and look forward to a future that you can have. It is such a long, difficult journey. I also hope you find some peace. I am on the path to it, but not there yet.

    I have to point out that even in this heart wrenching post I see you blaming yourself as a way to understand the cruelty. I used to try and make sense of it too, see what I did wrong and try to make myself better, quieter, less of a bad kid. It isn’t until you can see that it was never your fault, and that no matter what you did you still would have been hurt by this monstrous person. I stopped asking why and just accepted my father is a monster. A terrible force, like a tornado. We don’t ask why or have to forgive the tornado, just have to pick up the pieces afterwards.

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    1. Cat

      Hi Rootsoblossom… It means a lot to know people understand and makes the journey seem more possible.

      I am pleased you noticed that I still blame myself. We know in our hearts that children never deserve this treatment but, as you already know, this is a difficult habit to break.

      Many thanks for taking the time to comment

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  4. Ellen

    I’m sorry this happened – it is very terrible.

    My take on this is a little different. I believe you have to tell someone your story, with all the emotions attached. Maybe over and over, until you are able to ‘digest’ the experience. To have it remain as bad today as it was then, you may not have been able to process it properly and turn it into a memory of the past. This is what’s happened to me anyway. Then the experience keeps replaying, so to speak. I think we need to trust another caring person with our story, in order to heal. Forgiveness might or might not happen after that, IMO. Not before. take care

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    1. Cat

      Hi Ellen… I agree with what you wrote. I only just read something yesterday that said exactly the same thing. This is why I write that perhaps forgiveness means little in our recovery. I hope that this comes at a later stage. First, I believe we need to get the experience out there. I have been unable to speak or write about it, but this is one step nearer that goal.

      Thank you, Ellen, I appreciate your feedback

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  5. Cate Reddell

    I hate that you lived through that. I don’t know the answer to your question, but would love to. I like what Ellen says about telling our stories over. Maybe there’s something in that.

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    1. Cat

      HI Cate… I also agree what Ellen wrote. Once the stories are out there, perhaps forgiveness comes.

      Many thanks for taking the time to comment. It means such a lot to know people are around who understand

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    1. Cat

      It means such a lot to know that people understand where I am coming from. I’m sorry you too suffered at the hands of a bully. Thanks for commenting

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  6. RisingSong

    As I read this, I held my hand up to my mouth in horror! How can an animal like this ever be forgiven?!! How can I forgive my stepfather? I just don’t see it…but I do see what Andrea says. Unforgiveness breeds bitterness and resentment, which ultimately will bring us down. But how! How do we get there?

    …I agree with Ellen… We tell our story…loudly, honestly, and often. We give our wounded child an audible voice. Perhaps forgiveness is a byproduct of healing and not vice versa.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi RS… I feel exactly the same. It is such a struggle to get my head around forgiveness. Last night someone posted me a link to a fantastic article. It takes about 6 paragraphs before it starts talking about forgiveness and how we forgive. It is one of the most sensible articles I have read on the subject. I am sure it will help me on my journey. I hope you get something from it. This is the link

      http://integral-options.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-power-of-forgiveness-gina-sharpe.html

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Vic…WOW! I am so touched that you thought of me to nominate for the Liebster award. I already have that award, but thank you so much for thinking of me.

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  7. Gel

    Hi Cat,
    I guess you know my thoughts on forgiveness….
    In reading your comments here, I agree with what Ellen wrote about telling your story to someone who cares. I think who you tell and the quality of their attention, empathy and all that is super important. I also like what Risingsong wrote about forgiveness being a byproduct of healing rather than the other way around. I say it is a result of doing the healing work in myself….I should add that I think forgiveness MIGHT come…I think of it more as a gift not something that I’m guarenteed will come about.
    Blessings to you!

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks Gel, I appreciate your feedback. I have never had the courage to face the pain and humiliation. However, writing about it has given me strength and perhaps discussion is not too far off

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  8. Athena Brady

    Forgiveness for someone who has been abused is massive. I would rather say let it so you can move on with your life. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting it maybe is more a forgiveness for yourself that you were not to blame and nothing you did or could have done would change that action or prevent it. I think if our abusers say sorry it doesn’t make it alright but it does acknowledge to us that it was wrong and they know it was wrong.

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  9. Sharon Alison Butt

    Oh Cat, it feels weird putting a ‘like’ on a report so shockingly horrendous. But I’m sure you know that your followers are liking your ability to be able to portray in graphic detail how you have survived the most awful experiences. This makes it clear once again that there are thousands of David Pelzers out there, having to live amidst such painful memories. I’m sure you are helping many others come to terms with their haunting past. God is proud of you. Very proud.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Sharon… it is so strange that you would comment on this particular post. I actually wrote this back in August, but half an hour before you sent this comment yesterday, I was trying to find it in my archives.

      I was just talking to someone about how much I have changed in relation to trauma and hurt and forgiveness. I feel so differently about all of this and will probably write a post about it sometime soon.

      Oh and by the way, I also notice just how much my writing has improved since then, I thought it read terribly, so I edited in time for writing about it over the weekend

      Many thanks, Sharon, this really meant a lot.

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      1. Sharon Alison Butt

        It’s funny how we always cringe at our old work. I’m like that too. To be honest, I did not notice any errors or bad grammar, nor did it occur to me that it was written in a less professional standard than what you do now. I was so interested in the content, that any other stuff was not aparent. (I can’t spell that word) There’s not many bloggers whose archives I read because most people write too much and I haven’t the attention span for long blogs. But yours are just the right length. I am shortening mine considerably now because I don’t want to gabble on too much either. Have a blessed weekend.

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