“Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.” –Wikipedia
Tonight’s CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) class was probably the hardest so far. This class doesn’t just address diet or perhaps an easier to swallow (Pun intended) word, “nutrition.” It also addresses dealing with stress, and self care.
Tonight, class dealt specially with forgiveness. This is not a new idea for me. I’ve been working on that for a long, long time. I had no intentions of sharing my past–or any of my experiences… but others opened up, and there was this chain reaction, and suddenly I felt I really had some insight that *might* help another person. Basically–the subject of sexual assault was brought up, and the woman who brought it up said she would NEVER forgive the perp. I guess for me the most healing part of the class is when a man made it quite clear that he was sorry he’d said some things to his kids and that he could never take it back. You could soooo feel his pain. Later he shared that he and wife, had lost two kids, one at 18 and one at 23. The 18 was killed by a drunk driver. How in the world do you forgive that? And I could feel that because when the police picked up my step father, he was all packed up and ready for his trip. He had only called and asked if he could pick up my child from school. I had no idea that he was planning on going out of town with her. My guess is that she would not have come back alive. How do you forgive that?!
Fast forward 24 years, or something close to that. If you have a hurt, that is hurting you so bad that it affects your present life with a girlfriend, wife, husband, boyfriend, your kids… then forgiveness is essential. I don’t like using the term forgiveness–it is a little bit misleading, but I know of no other word in our language that covers the process any better. It’s not about forgiving and forgetting. It’s not about condoning the actions of the perp. It’s not about letting a bad guy or gal off the hook for their actions. It’s about you–the person with the hurt. What it boils down to is that by forgiving them– you release yourself emotionally from their power. Depending on the hurt you may do this several times over the years…someone like me… will be doing it the rest of her/his life. But, it is necessary because it helps to soften the anger and it helps to take away the pain.
I made a conscious decision a long time ago, after I watched my mothers reaction to the whole mess– I was not going to go my grave bitter and angry. My number one reason for this is that I wanted to set an example for my kids that there are better, more productive ways to handle our situation than what I had chosen in the past. Basically, I just wanted to be a good example, and kind of light the way for them, and show them it could be done. Have I stumbled? Oh yes…. does it hurt? Of course… to heal from these things, one must look the devil square in the face and say, “be gone…” so to speak.
I was in tears during tonight’s class.. listening to all these folks share their biggest hurts. And a few of them had no interest in the exercise associated with class, writing a letter to the person we are forgiving. It is a letter that never has to be mailed, it is not for the perp– logically, if letter would have an impact on a perp, then they would NOT be a perp. That letter is for you, because it is the beginning of the end, something tangible that you can let go of when you are ready to help yourself, let go…. and move on.. and live!
That letter is you taking back your life, your liberty, your freedom, and your power… I’ve written many such letters, and I can tell you that the very first time I was sure that I was wasting my energy–but many moons later, I can look back and I know it helped. And it was free… I’ve had several really great therapists who have helped in many ways. But no therapist can do what the letter writing can do for you, nor can they light the candle that you use to set the letter aflame…. and only you can let go of the anger and pain… do it for you. Take back your life, and your health. You deserve it. 😉