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Stories from people who have moved forward in some way with forgiveness, particularly toward those who abused them.

forgiveness was more like accepting that these things happened, that I can't change that they happened
I think I understand this. And for you this acceptance led to a release from the bitterness.

I’m starting to realize that the term forgiveness is complex and nuanced in meaning. And that, like love, has to be overhauled for some people.

I was quite religious in my life, then very spiritual. I knew that my dad had beaten me and my brother and that he was a jerk and I forgave him for those. I lived with him and my mom when I was married with kids. And I felt deep in my heart that I forgave him for beating me and being a jerk because I recognized that we’re all human and glass houses and all that. I felt so at peace and worked hard not to hold resentment toward him on a day-to-day basis. My SI was pretty well tamed. My main stress was the dynamic between my ex husband and my boys, which was leading to significant depression and SI again, due to my codependency, which I was clueless about.

So when I recovered the memories of the csa that was like a bomb going off in terms of my relationships with everyone in the whole world, but especially myself. I didn’t need to believe any of my old narratives anymore because they were all skewed and “truth” had a new meaning. When I told my mom about the csa she asked my dad if it was true and he said yes and then she told him to leave and I never willingly saw him again. That was almost six years ago.

Then the long long process of rebuilding my self.

So much of rebuilding my self was figuring out how to accept that what he did hurt me. How could it have been that bad if my memory covered it over and I lived with him for almost my whole life up to that point? It was uncomfortable to go through that acceptance and facing that what he did (and who he was) was bad/wrong/dangerous felt like it split me in half, and that by accepting that I fundamentally changed from who I was before.

And now the concept of forgiveness seems like a swing in that direction. And that’s uncomfortable. I hear you all saying, “Nope, that’s not necessarily how it works. It’s simply you figuring out a way to let go of anger and bitterness.”

And so maybe if I think about it that way I can make some headway. That I can still be no contact and still stay away from him but somehow release the anger, a bit at a time.

Seems kind of impossible in this state I’m in.

Last night I dreamed that I was in San Francisco on the steepest streets. I was with a friend and my dad was driving and he was doing a fine job of driving and I wasn’t scared. I think I was young. And we kept asking him to take us to Lombard Street. And as we were driving we saw the most beautiful old buildings and doorways.

And when I woke up I was mad that I was so neutral in the dream toward him. And that I was in a car with him. Maybe this is related, that somehow I could become neutral about him but I don’t want to see him or interact with him and somehow my brain is saying that with forgiveness I *could* interact with him. Some little parts are scared that they would ever have to do that. And I guess they would have to trust that the adult parts would protect them if that happened. And I know I’m not ready for that and parts are saying, “Why are we doing it then?” And I guess it does come back to dealing with the anger.

Yuck. Uncomfortable.
think about the idea that the opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is apathy. So what is the opposite of hate? For me, I think the opposite of hate is also apathy. The opposite of hating my abusers is the feeling that I just don't care anymore. So why carry around a white hot anger towards them if it serves no purpose?
I don't need to foregive my abusers, I simply don't care that much. If you need a word for the apathy, call it foregiveness. Doesn't matter really.
Took a long time to get here, and I can still dip into the anger, but why bother at this point? That's the opposite of the things I wish had not happened.
Bringing this here to ask how do you do it?

Oof. It's generous of you to ask and I'll attempt to answer. But can we please not quote me from that thread outside of that thread? I'm not free of those people just yet and it's honestly a little terrifying seeing my words in relation to that thing that happened somewhere other than where I put them. I feel like a jerk for making that request. 😕

How do I forgive? Swallow rage and hurt?

Empathy breeds forgiveness. The opposite of hate is empathy. With understanding and empathy, forgiveness or at least acceptance can be found. My mother screwed up pretty badly with me as a toddler. Easy to forgive now that I understand both what happened and how/why it happened the way it did. She still isn't my mother and I feel little if any filial debt of gratitude. She failed in too many other ways. Similar shit with the bio-father. I no longer blame them as people, but neither do I accept them as family. *shrug*

Empathy isn't a cure-all though. The people who did other things to me...I understand the why/where/what/how of it and have concluded the universe would likely be an infinitely better place were they to be eradicated from it and memory. There is not one f*cking iota of forgiveness there. That's where empathy goes to meet William Golding. They taught me to use my teeth as a weapon and part of me really wants to ask if they approve of my skills.

Swallowing rage/hurt? It's priorities. My kid, my kid's future is the only thing that matters. Building good memories for when I'm gone and making sure my kid is going to be okay is just that important. That makes it pretty easy to let go. Tends to come back out late at night though and sleep comes slowly. Sometimes the only thing to do is light a smoke and stare into the darkness until the spell breaks. I dunno. Some things are still just memory fragments rattling around and staring into the darkness lets them move around.

-btw...really appreciate the energy and passion that comes through some of your writing. It's a bit humbling to read (in a good way).
Thanks @boppy sprite !

Empathy breeds forgiveness.
Been working on this. I think it’s related to what @Teasel shared about the Buddhist practice of “metta”.

Anyway, two nights in a row I have prayed for ex. (I think one night I prayed for my dad.). And this was my prayer, “I pray that ex gets all that he deserves and his path takes him further away from me.”

I don’t know what he deserves and I don’t need to wonder about that. It’s not my responsibility and I send that up, out, and away. I don’t want to be taking up brain space ruminating on ex.

It was a sweet dear friend who suggested that prayer and she said something very intriguing. She said, “You can use that prayer for someone you hate but also someone you lust after.”

And that’s been rolling around in my head too. Because as someone who’s been afraid of intimacy, in the past I have developed strong fantasies about people that I would keep bottled up. I would desire them so strongly and have no outlet, or only be able to trickle out my affection for them in a smile or a conversation—and it was uncomfortable, even painful. Everyone here probably knows unrequited love. And some of you CPTSD’ers understand it very well!

And I realized… that with lust fantasies there can be a kind of bitterness that builds up along side it. Not hatred but a feeling in the same family because the person won’t reciprocate. And if you’re in the grinder the anger or hatred or bitterness or sullenness can get turned inward.

So I hadn’t considered how forgiveness might come into play for me strongly desiring someone who can’t or won’t reciprocate in the way that I want them to. But now I am able to consider that and it feels like a little star has popped through an otherwise black sky in my psyche.

Anger and lust and hatred are connected I see, and forgiveness can be applied. And giving the responsibility of someone’s destiny over to higher powers is a step toward forgiveness. At least a step toward clearing space in my mind.
Oh. So you... Hmm. A few thoughts for you.

Something I've been trying to figure out how to say politely: Ma'am, and I mean this gently, have you considered how it might feel to have your words about one of the worst moments in your life transcribed and transposed and dropped into a thread about intimacy? You are going through your own things, so there's no real fault, but that kinda stung. You didn't mean to do that, not the way i took it. :(

On intimacy, if you care to read, I have a personal anecdote that may shed some insight for you? It's different from what you're experiencing but may be close enough that it hints at something useful. Some thirty years ago I ended up at a beach with a bunch of horny neopagan 20-somethings for a weekend of ritual and shenanigans. Please do not get the impression that I was that "cool." I was the stern, stoic, chain-smoking shmuck in leather who, for unknown reasons, had been adopted by a highly sexualized crowd of women and their boytoys. Perhaps because I was so stern and stoic I forgot to bring a blanket (or pillow) for sleeping at this 3 day gathering. Stoics don't sleep, doncha know? :eyeroll:

The redhead in the group was pred carnivorous and kept insisting I should join her under the blankets for warmth. "It's only for warmth, it's cold at night," she said. Uh-huh. I was dumb enough to be coaxed into the blankets by night 2. Day 3 rolls around and the redhead is having a snit at the world. She's been at a beach, goddammit, for 3 entire days and hasn't had an intimate stroll on the beach at all with anyone. She wanted her memorable moment, dammit. double :eyeroll:

The boytoys were spoken for and I had allowed myself to be coaxed into the blankets the night before, so obviously I was the sacrifice. We hit the beach. She marveled at my impervious response to the cold as she donned my leather jacket...always had to be the gentleman. "Aren't you cold?" Grunt. Shrug. "Here, let me warm you up."

I helped her attain a manual release, keeping her hands far away from my junk, and politely declined when offered an opportunity to make like the 4-legged beast. Nuh-uh, no f*cking way. We remained friendly acquaintances for several years. I did make a point of leaving her with a hicky to show her boyfriend when we got back (who was a good 10 years older and apparently laughed at her irrepressible horniness and promptly forgave her).

What's the point? Sometimes it isn't about you. Sometimes the person you're interested in is just damaged when it comes to their own sexuality. Or, they aren't good at intimacy and want a hell of a lot longer than 3 months to feel comfortable. Not wanting intimacy isn't necessarily a rejection of you. For all the snark in my tone telling the anecdote, I liked the young woman in question as a person. If she'd come to me as a friend and said "Look, it's a beach, I'm 20-something, I'm horny as hell, and you're a physically fit lad and a friend. Lend a hand?" Ya know, I probably would have given her the best oral of her life. As a friend. I don't have to find comfort in sex to understand that it's life-affirming for others. But guilt-tripping earned her a quick one-and-done.

In your shoes I might ask myself: who am I forgiving? I hope this isn't out of place, but I'll add that you might appreciate Catherine Yronwode's teachings on Karezza. It's esoteric, similar in some ways to alchemical taoism and tantra. That sounds horribly like I'm suggesting "good tantric sex will set you right" which is NOT what I mean to imply. Some of Cat Yronwode's approach to the body lends itself to self-acceptance as acceptance of the body. Nurturing is the word I would use to describe it.

Anger does weird things, doesn't it?
@boppy sprite my apologies for making you uncomfortable. I thought you were saying that you had put effort into forgiveness and I was curious how you had done it, and I didn’t want to derail your diary or make it about me so I asked it here. You are free to ignore me or anyone who makes you uncomfortable here—if you don’t how to do that ask mods.
@boppy sprite my apologies for making you uncomfortable. I thought you were saying that you had put effort into forgiveness and I was curious how you had done it, and I didn’t want to derail your diary or make it about me so I asked it here. You are free to ignore me or anyone who makes you uncomfortable here—if you don’t how to do that ask mods.
@Rose White Thank you for hearing me. Kinda did this one to myself though posting as I did. And, sorry for derailing your thread.

You're welcome to comment in my diary at any time. You have a unique perspective and I admire the energy you bring to tackling issues.
I keep thinking though that letting go of the anger means I’ll be fine seeing him, running in to him, if he reaches out to me.
This is not the case, at least for me. I would never wish to speak to any of my abusers again. There are caveats to this (not that I would be comfortable or fine, but I would be willing to engage in very specific ways), but I don't think my abusers would ever meet them. But hey, stranger things have happened, I suppose. I have no desire to interact with people who find it acceptable to hurt me, who cannot take responsibility for their behavior, who have no interest or understanding in restorative processes.

So learning that I did have anger and learning that it was appropriate to direct at people who had hurt me (first realizing and accepting that they had hurt me in the first place) was quite a journey.
This is where I liken anger to physical pain. Anger is a sign that something has gone wrong, that something or someone has either overwhelmed our capacity, intruded on our boundaries, or committed injustice against us. There's utility in anger. Just like pain is a sign that our bodies have endured trauma, or a wound of some sort, that we need to take care of so it doesn't become festering and destructive.

Chronic pain, though, has no utility. I already know what's wrong with my body. I already know there is damage there, what that damage is, and have taken the most steps possible to ameliorate it all. But the nerves keep firing, even though that pain doesn't serve a purpose anymore. Likewise, chronic anger is much the same. All that being said, if your abuser is still in your life, then you are being continuously wounded.

So the anger in this context makes sense, because it's not chronic, it's acute. It keeps being triggered fresh, because he keeps being around. So the impetus to move away is a good one, if it would allow you space and peace. For all that I have spoken of forgiveness, that process would not have been possible had I remained in contact with any of my abusers. It was only possible after I felt confident that they no longer have a role in my life.