“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ― Lewis B. Smedes
From my roller coaster life of being emotionally and physically abused, for me to finally get over the horrible pictures/episodes is when I decided to forgive. It is said we have the power to choose our friends, but we cannot choose our families. I know I might think I have seen the worse in my life BUT also know that some might have seen the worst than myself. I am writing this as a motivation to you if you might have gone through the worst experience where you cannot stand to see your perpetrators or vowed never to forgive based on your past experience as much as I did. I have learned to see my worst painful experience as my positive one. Well for one, there is strength that you gain from pain once it has subsided. Once the initial shock of the pain has passed you are able to see what you have learned from it and how it has made you a more resilient individual. I personally learned the effect of emotional abuse which had an impact in my friendships because emotionally abused people often worry about how people truly see them and if they truly like them. Eventually, as a victim you pull back from friendships and isolate yourself, convinced that no one likes you. This is how I felt until I told myself “I am done being a victim, I am not going to live the rest of my life for anybody else or my abusers, I am going to live for myself. God gave me just one life, its either I choose to please those who planned to mess it up for me, or to live my life as a gift that was wrapped, presented with my name tag on it NO ONE ELSE.
The first person I happened to share my story or relate my anger with, was my 1st sister who got married at a younger age, as said, I CHOSE MY WAY OF LIVING AFTER ALL. When I raised my humiliating moments and as constantly criticized child to my elder sister, she “acted” surprised as if my growing up story was news in her ears. The reason why I had to burst, was when I was again, at my older days and already being a mother, we were at the family gathering where we have to give inputs for family arrangements, when I was told mine was worthless. I thought the devil of anger was gone and forgotten but I realised at that moment that it was just buried on the surface and was easily unleashed, I saw pictures of my childhood pain played on my eyes just like a movie, the pain and anger at that split second, turned me to an animal ready to protect and fight back for its life. I then realised that, this pain was never dealt with accordingly, the fact that I have never shared my experience with anyone, I lied to myself that I am now out or over this anger, to forget what really happened to me the entire situation was just swept under a thick, heavy carpet until that faithful day when the reaction/comment like old times occurred to trigger its reappearance. just like bandaging a wound without cleaning it, it was sceptic.
Giving my story to my 1st sister, to me it felt like draining the pus out of an infected wound, I didn’t care whether she believe or not believe me. Since she and my other siblings only experienced love from our own mother and my story might have come as a shock or cry for sympathy, to me it didn’t matter, I was the one in charge now, to tell as it is, how it felt and make a point right there. My outburst might have been taken or looked at as being crazy BUT later realised that was my 1st step toward my own healing after all those years I thought “I was OK” As with so many of our negative emotions, like holding a grudge, the person who holds the emotion is the one who is most affected by it. But even in such a case though there is very short-term satisfaction in acting out the grudge. In the long-run the effect is perhaps just as negative or more negative for you than for the person who is the object of your grudge and anger. That is what I picked up when I busted. My own mother acted like I was the crazy child and claimed not to know anything about my cries/outburst and my tears were regarded as crocodile’s tears, it is said that violators cannot live with the truth: survivors cannot live without it. Angry people live in angry bodies and I was not prepared to be that angry person again, or to play a victim again and again whenever we are gathering as family or when reminded about those painful names I used to be called, right there and there it was my chance to see myself as victorious than a victim of emotional abused one. I can tell you right now that It is never too late! I know I have felt like the victim in various situations in my life, but, it was never too late for me to realize that it was my responsibility to stand on victorious ground and know that whatever it is I am experiencing or going through right there, those were just the clouds rolling by while I stand there on the top of that mountain. That mountain called Victory! The clouds will come, and the clouds will go, but the truth is that I am high up here on this mountaintop that reaches into the sky I am a victor. I didn't climb up the mountain, I was born on top of it!” and the same person who gave birth to me never realised that given birth to me on the mountain, will help me not to fear the height, they might have thought given birth to me on the mountain as a child I will inflict fear to fall not realising that they were inflicting power of strength than fear.
My sister listened to my story, with tears in her eyes, all she could say to me was “I never knew” why you don’t speak to mama about this, I guess mama never knew she was causing you so much pain. You know what my friend? At that very same moment, the anger and resentment I felt for my elder sister just like the rest of them changed, I felt like I now how one member of my family with me and who understands, unlike the feeling I had of loneliness, of not having a sibling, a feeling filled with so many questions of “am I part of this family”. I immediately realised a life that is consumed by bitterness and resentment is hardly a life worth living. When anger and resentment consume you, this only leads to depression and a life of misery, where you feel victimized and powerless. At times moving on from a painful situation has more to do with our own emotional blocks than anything else. Some of the most obvious emotions we experience when we know we need to move on are hurt and anger. While we can be angry at other people initially, sometimes the hurt and anger we have toward ourselves is what is keeping us from moving on. We might have placed an expectation on them (those who hurt us) to behave in a way that meets our standards. It doesn’t matter whether this is a stranger, a family member, a friend, or a lover—it all equates to the same.
It is OK to give yourself time to grieve if you need to, but then build a bridge by actively doing what you need to to move on. Then walk over the bridge to the other side and live your new life. I am smiling right now because I did the same. I know we might have experienced different pain/s and certain things are easily said than done BUT ask yourself right now, who is in pain? Yourself or your abuser/s? they have long moved on and even forgotten what was like “beating you, raping you, calling you names etc and there you are each day in and out you losing a day in life in misery by pleasing them and making them rejoice to see their name calling of you being a loser was the truth. Don’t give them that power over yourself, prove them wrong. Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The times we fall down hurt but each time we get up we get stronger. Since I am able to share with you my story right now, it surely proves I haven’t forgotten BUT surely, I have forgiven hence I am in a better place right now and able to love without resentment. Note that though I don’t think forgetting is such a good idea forgiving certainly is, if we don’t forgive those who have wronged us we will be carrying a lot of bitterness. Bitterness doesn’t harm the person we hold a grudge against it only harms ourselves. So heartfelt sincere forgiveness is such a gift to ourselves, it fosters a sense of lightness and, well happiness.
As we reach adulthood, we start to realize that there is far more substance to our interactions and dynamics with people than we were able to understand as children. Many of us become less naïve, particularly as we start to pay greater attention to actions, body language, energy, and the various subliminal messages that are hidden within everything people say or do. When we grow up, we comprehend that “sorry” does not always mean that the person is sorry. Sometimes people do harm and neither say sorry nor mean it. Often the word sorry never appears, as not everyone wants to think about their actions and take accountability for what they have done. Despite how badly we want to hear the word “sorry” from someone else, the only person we actually have to rationalize and reason with to regain harmony is ourselves. Forgiveness is also a place of strength. Extending forgiveness speaks volumes about our character, our mind and our soul. Extending forgiveness is powerful and when given, experienced and lived its power knows no end and it truly is more about what happens to you rather than the person you are forgiving. I am independent and free from hatred, hatred turned to overflowing love for my family regardless.