One MAJOR roadblock I had when I reclaimed my life from the childhood traumas that haunted me was forgiveness. One small word, one LARGE hurdle.
I. DID. NOT. WANT. TO. FORGIVE.
But that damn rat bastard word, forgiveness, kept rearing its ugly head. In books I was reading for my healing, conversations with my counselor, in the news, on TV shows, in song lyrics. EVERYWHERE. Forgiveness was haunting me, stalking me. I had to deal with it.
I didn’t want to forgive because I felt that forgiveness was saying that what he did to me was okay. I thought that if I forgave him, I was giving him a free pass. A get out of jail free card.
“Yes, you were beyond horrific to me. You scarred my soul and took away my childhood. You abused me in every way you could think of. Ah, never mind.”
I didn’t understand what forgiveness was about.
So, I turned the tables and I began stalking forgiveness. I read books and articles about forgiveness. I listened to sermons and personal testimonies about forgiveness. I talked at length about my dreaded enemy, forgiveness, with my counselor and others I trusted. I devoured any information I could find on the subject.
I learned a lot. I learned that anger and bitterness really only hurt the person carrying it. My stepfather didn’t feel any effects of my anger. He was living far away and had no clue how I felt. Nor would he care if he did. I was the one suffering. Stress. Pain. Anxiety. Anger. Hatred. Not a lovely mix to carry around inside of me.
I learned that almost everyone struggles with forgiveness in their life. Most importantly, I learned that I needed to forgive – not for him, but for me. The pain, anger and bitterness was going to eat me from the inside out if I did not find a way to release it and let it go for good.
By forgiving him, it does not mean what he did was okay. It will never be okay. It will never be right. It will always be horrible. It will always be pure, unadulterated evil.
Forgiveness means I will no longer carry the hatred and burden for what he did.
Since I did not want any contact or relationship with my stepfather, I did not have to forgive him face-to-face. No letter, no phone call. Nothing. It was only important that I knew I had forgiven him. So I did. I have to admit, spitting out the words “I forgive my stepfather” was vile the first time I did it. Part of my body rebelled and I wanted to vomit after I said it. But I knew it was important. I had to say it several times before it didn’t make me feel physically ill.
Then, one day I said it and finally, I felt the shift. I had forgiven him.
Do I thank him? HELL NO. Do I want him in my life? HELL NO. Do I hold anger and bitterness toward him or wish him dead? Also, NO. Forgiveness set me free to feel absolutely nothing toward him. I have no investment at all in what his day-to-day life is, what he is doing, where he lives. Just like I don’t have any investment or feelings toward someone I pass at the DMV.
I simply don’t care. His hold over me; over my life, is over.
Forgiveness is a gift I gave myself.
I’m thankful that I did.