Can You Really Forgive? #30in30


forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

My dad got the phone call that my uncle passed away.  In true fashion, he didn’t give much detail on what happened. He just said, “your uncle died today.”   I didn’t care.  No reaction, no sympathy, no feelings one way or another. Surprised, I thought “Wow, you don’t feel ANYTHING.” I guess the fact he molested  me when I was five yrs old took something out of me. I  didn’t have any emotion to send his way.

I realized what happened to me when I was saw a reporter on tv discussing sexual abuse and the signs to look for in children. My eyes got big, and I looked at my mom who was cooking dinner  but didn’t say anything. That’s when I realized what happened was wrong. I wondered would she care if I told her. Wondered if she would believe me or somehow blame me for letting it happen. I decided to keep it to myself but was glad I could put words to the experience.

I read a couple of books on sexual abuse in college and tried counseling after graduation. I wondered if  I should share what happened  when I was a little girl with my parents. It was the only time they ever left me alone with him. It was the only time I ever saw him. My counselor prepped me that the reaction from my parents may differ from what I expected. I told my story. My mother confused and angry. She immediately became mother hen, asking if I was okay, wanting to know was it something she’d done. She kept asking me, “how do you feel?” Like it just happened but it was so long ago. My dad had nothing to say. To be exact, his words were “it happened and you just need to let it go.” Amazing. It wasn’t the supportive reaction I needed but then this was my dad. He’s never shared too much emotion with me. Or anyone for the matter. I was hurt.   That all you could give to your baby girl was “you need to get over that. ” In addition to working on me, and forgiving my uncle, now I had the lack of concern from my father who I thought should have been in rescue mode,  irate and on the phone to his brother about it. I worked through as much as I could with my counselor and assumed I had forgiven him.

The thing is,  I prayed to forgive him but it wasn’t really tested because I never saw him again. I don’t know if it was by God’s grace that he spared me that type of pain but I sure do appreciate it. And I knew being hateful towards a man who didn’t know the impact of his behavior simply wasn’t going to do anything for me. I just didn’t like it. How could he get away with it even after all these years?

Truth is, it’s hard.  I hate him for what he did.  I forgive him in my mind, but I’ll always remember him doing things to  my body when I was too young to  understand. My parents trusted him to care for me while they went out that night. He broke that trust and somehow got away with it. My questions will  never be answered. I’m not sure if I really need them to be. So, I keep trying to forgive.  And  asking God for grace. It doesn’t happen often but when I remember the pain, I  go back to God. I admit the hurt he caused and then ask God again  for the grace to grow to  forgive this man. I like the fact that each time I ask, God doesn’t get upset. I really think he knows some things in life are harder than others to deal with. But  each time I do, I gain more strength and more resolve that my uncle  has no control of any part of my life anymore. It’s  a struggle, but I deal with it.

Can you really forgive? Yea, you can. Will it happen overnight? No. Will it eventually sting less? Yes. Will you discover power in yourself once you let go of the pain? Yes. Will it sometimes pop up to remind you of scars? Yes. But I won’t allow my uncle to have that kind of power over me. Even though he controlled me for a night when I was younger,  I’m more than that awful experience.  I’m still numb to the thought because that was the totality of my relationship with my uncle. Never saw him again. Picked up the phone and heard his voice 10 yrs later. Passed the phone to my dad and kept living. I’m not responsible for what he did nor responsible how my parents reacted. What I am responsible for is how I respond.  My choice is to move forward. Not forgetting, but forgiving by letting go of another piece of the anger each time it comes back up.

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2 thoughts on “Can You Really Forgive? #30in30

  1. It took me years to forgive my brother and all of my cousins (male and female) who took advantage of a little girl who always made it her mission to please others. I suffered for years until the flashbacks occurred when I moved to another country. The truth finally came out, and all of those truths explained a lot of my ill behaviors. I was abused from age 4 or 5 until I was 12. It took counseling, a seizure due to anti-depressants and countless other roadblocks, but I finally forgave all of them. It was a lot easier forgiving them instead of allowing them to ravage my mental and physical body with the disease of unforgiveness. Did it happen overnight? Of course it didn’t, but happen it did. I still suffer from its effects, but I can live my life only one day at a time. Thanks so much for sharing. You are so brave, and I admire your willingness to share your journey with us!!!

    • Thank you for being so vulnerable and I want this to be a safe space to do so. Like you said, one day at a time is better than ravaging your mind and body with unforgiveness. Here’s to recovery and taking control over what matters most: you.

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