Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Murky Waters Of Forgiveness

All my life I was taught one thing about this concept, and it messed me up for many years.  Forgiveness is something that is often taught in religious homes of all flavors and in the homes of those that have been abused as children.

Forgiveness is taught as a weapon to get the children under control and to be subservient to someone deemed greater than themselves.  It is taught as a manipulation, that you must do this and let the other person off the hook.

These are the murky waters of forgiveness because they distort the truth and manipulate those that are willing to follow.  I used to live in those murky waters of forgiveness and if anyone dared to challenge me, I dismissed them at will.

I've struggled long and hard with forgiveness because in no way do I want those that hurt me so deeply and badly to have one easy moment in their life.  I don't want them to think that what they did was okay.  I don't want them to have an easy life where they don't fully realize what they did to me.  I'm sorry, but I am human and I was horribly abused.

Was nowhere near ready...

I even had one church go as far as have me come up to the front while all these people prayed and laid hands on me.  It was a forgiveness ritual.  The thing is, I was nowhere near ready to even talk about forgiveness and I ended up resenting it even more.

When my mom passed away, I had friends of the family telling me I should forgive.  They thought that I needed to move on in my life.  However, they did not know the family secrets.  It did not stop them from preaching forgiveness to me.  I walked away and said, "enough is enough".

Oprah and Tyler Perry on forgiveness

When I went to the Oprah 200 Male Survivor episode, I heard Oprah and Tyler Perry talking about forgiveness.  I thought, well how special it was that they can forgive.  I wasn't really buying it at the time because I too thought, why would I ever let the abusers off the hook?

What I have learned though is forgiveness isn't what I was taught.  It isn't about going down on your knees and praying for your abusers to be freed from the prison you live in.  It isn't about them.  It is not about them!

Forgiveness is not a process where you wake up one morning and go everything is over.  That is a fallacy on so many levels that is widely practiced today because of religious teaching.  I'm sorry, I don't believe that is how forgiveness works.

I learn to let go...

Forgiveness is a process where I learn to let go.  It is where I allow myself to start disconnecting from all the horrors and hurt and pain I have been through.   It is about my own healing and discovering who I am.  It is about me learning to deal with the anger I have, the pain that permeates the deepest parts of my soul.  It is about letting go of it all and learning to walk forward without all of this.

Forgiveness is not about letting them off the hook.  I fully hold the abusers in my life accountable for what they did.  It is their job to ask forgiveness of themselves and of me.  Until they do that, I will never let them off the hook.  I'm not even sure I could at that point either.

I don't care what my abusers wish from me and need from me.  They destroyed my life, so they no longer get the option of having that control or say in anything I do.  They gave that up when the violated me.

Forgiveness for me is letting go.  It is stepping away from all that hurt; not ignoring it, but working to move on in my life and heal my life.  It is about me becoming all that I can become.  It is about giving myself a chance for the future.

The only person I have any control over is myself, but if I harbor the anger and resentment toward those who did those things, it will have an impact on me physically.  That is not helpful for me.  Forgiveness is what I need to let go of and I do it by healing and becoming all that I am and was meant to be.

Blog Post And Images (c) 2017 by Don Shetterly
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  1. Great post as usual. Thank you for writing about this. I agree and it was a very long and difficult process for me to find forgiveness...I was bitter and angry for many years, and I felt the same way you did. It took some heavy convincing for me to feel ok with it, and know I did not ever have to SEE the person again, so that I could. When I did let go enough to forgive it was for me and my healing, not about or for the other person at all. And it did take away the resentment that was eating away at me. I was no longer giving them a rent-free space in my head! It is a very personal process and not one that can be forced or that just happens, an one should not be made to feel guilty if they are not at that point yet.
    Thank you again!

  2. Yes. You canot hope to forgive until you yourself first heal. As you heal and become more whole, you're more able to let go of the anger and resentment towards the other person not for thwork sake, but for YOUR sake and well being.






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