A healing journey is a personal one and people will tell you the right way to heal, they’ll tell you what it means to heal, what it means to forgive, anything you want to find… it’s all out there.
They’ll tell you whose fault it is, and whose fault it isn’t with clarity.
But each journey is so very different. There is no one size fits all and often if you’re speaking about healing from some kind of sexual abuse, most people will tell you you’ll find forgiveness much farther down the track than you’d hope. People may tell you to find it in the healing powers of god (however, for all I know they could be right if I could be my own god) or if you’re like me and neither of those options seems overtly appealing, you’ll try to find your own way there through various spiritual awakenings.
In many ways I am quite new to the healing game. I only started dealing with my childhood and teen-years trauma in my late 20’s (i’m almost 33), I’ve since dabbled in many and consistent therapies; mind, body, spiritual and physical.
So when I started out into the humble world of healing from sexual abuse and trauma there was a tonne of advice out there on it. I also found that there was a tonne of different people, with different experiences, most of them kind of fumbling around to find the same thing.
Peace with what happened, peace with themselves, peace with their place in this world.
Peace is something I think many people might only find in forgiveness or something like it.
I think I might be one of those people.
Forgiveness is a big topic for many sexual abuse survivors, or anyone really. Forgiveness often brings out heated arguments and conversations because many people think forgiveness is saying that what someone did was okay, or that; that person is okay.
But that’s not what it means at all.
Forgiving is a kindness to your self. Forgiveness means letting go of the anger. Forgiveness is about you, not the abuser.
Think of your abuser as a baby, were they good then? Or where they born bad?
It’s likely that your answer is that you believe that all humans are born ‘good’ and that often its the bad experiences people have that cause them to become ‘bad’. If that’s the case then;
1. All people are good.
2. All people make shitty choices, you and I included.
3. But not all of those choices are their faults.
My abuser made much worse choices than I have, but he wasn’t born that way.
I was born the same way he was, inherently ‘good’, I made choices, but none of them as bad as the ones he made. But I still made some terrible choices, it’s just I am more mentally capable and self-aware than he is. Again, not his fault.
He was not a bad person. He was not okay. Just as his choices weren’t.
Being angry at him has not served me. I was never able to see how it ever would. It felt useless and forced. But a year ago when I first started to consider forgiveness I couldn’t imagine a time where I would be in it, but I felt it, the freedom if it, but I wasn’t there yet.
I knew the anger needed time to shift. But all it took was some time and a realisation of humanity; ‘He was a good person once who was nothing but good, but perhaps the experiences he experienced and the choices he made, were bad.’
He could still be making those terrible choices, and they could still be ruining his life.
But they’ll no longer ruin mine.
But in light of the choices he made which left an-adult-me flailing around in the pits of hell. The self-doubt, the pity, the sadness, the never-ending darkness; all caused me to need to tear myself down, look inside and come out the other side stronger, more resilient, braver and more driven than I ever thought I could be.
I am the result of a choice he made.
But it was a choice that he made, a choice that I no longer have to live in the shadows of.
I chose to be a little bit thankful for that and the things I now am.
What if you’re not ready?
Because I know many of you aren’t or many are and don’t know where to start, my suggestion is to start with you. Sit down (bitch be humble) and think about it, meditate on it, write it, write yourself a letter forgiving yourself and then one for the abuser (even if you never send it.) Dwell on it for days. What it means. How it feels. Read about it if you must. Learn all you can.
Forgiving the abuser aids me in forgiving me, that’s just me personally.
Consider that forgiveness isn’t as big a deal as we imagine it to be.
Consider that releasing who’s fault something is or granting some forgiveness helps us forgive ourselves, and helps us be who we need to be and helps us move forward.
Consider that forgiveness is a reachable goal and consider that maybe forgiveness is no longer blaming anyone, no longer pointing at someone and screaming “YOU DID THIS TO ME”.
Forgiveness doesn’t sound so bad, or as hard. When you say it like that.
Some people say there is no such thing as forgiving an abuser. That it’s their fault and that is something they and we have to live with, that there should be no forgiveness.
But what if forgiveness, something that is often avoided is actually just a necessary part of the healing journey?
What if we just stopped needing to place the fault on someone?
What if shit just happened because of other peoples shitty choices?
And, then what if that person ended up in that place because their family, society, culture or the world failed them?
Then this IS a bigger social problem, it is bigger than ” it’s your fault I was abused and you are a bad person and I hate you”. Isn’t it?
I was sexually abused by my step-father for 6 years. I blamed him the whole time until now, I’ve spent years hating on him, and getting nowhere with it and I’ve spent years getting into knotted-stomach-anxiety over him. I placed all fault on him because I didn’t know what to do with what I felt.
If we were going to put the blame out there and talk about whos faults it is, then why are my mum, my dad, my grandparents my mum and dads friends, school teachers, doctors police officers not at fault here too, why are they not tearing themselves up about it the way I have?
Because really, its no one’s fault. It’s just something that happened. Doesn’t make it okay, or fair or just or right. But it happened. And being angry, being fearful, being vengeful was just a way to deal with the emotions that came from it.
I placed fault on myself as a child and a teenager and even a grown woman for what he did, it wasn’t right but I still did it, so whos to say placing the fault onto my abuser is just as right?
So if it’s not my fault, and I decided it’s not his fault then who’s fault was it?
Does it even have to be someone’s fault?
Doesn’t someone need to be at fault here too?
Is it his parent’s fault?
Did they give him the wrong biological genes to make what we call a good human?
Was he okay until he started having mental health issues, that due to his generation were ignored?
Was he abused emotionally, sexually or physically that caused his mind to warp?(not saying that the abused go on to abuse.)
Did he once seek help? But it failed him?
Has he hurt someone before and he’s not been caught therefore the justice system not only letting the victims/or survivors down but also him?
Has he never been pulled up for the choices he made when he abused me?
No, he hasn’t. So why would or should we expect him to learn?
I have stopped pointing the finger and suddenly I feel less angry.
When you stop pointing the finger at someone, the only person left standing there is you. Is he important to me? No.
Am I? Yes.
What if you stopped giving someone’s fault so much power?
Was I too busy faulting others to be present on my own healing journey?
Was I too engrossed in the blame to see what forgiveness really is?
If we stopped pointing at everyone else like it mattered and turned that finger around, I think we’d find that all that finger pointing does nothing for us to move forward, not spiritually, not physically, emotionally or mentally.
Pointing away from you, from yourself deflects the power.
Don’t push all your power through that finger into someone else, turn that finger back inwards and do the work you need to to be okay with you and your choices.
Point that power right back into you, because the only person that is worthy of it is you.
This could be all completely wrong. Maybe in your honest opinion, I missed the point completely. But I feel better about it. Like I said in the beginning, each journey is different, this is just what is currently working for me so it might not work for you.
Now tell me, whats your idea of forgiveness?