I just finished reading a free e-book from the Urban Monk Albert Foong which you will find on his website, http://www.urbanmonk.net . I did some thinking and decided to write this article. His article is about anger, sadness, and forgiveness.
With my incest issues, I have done my share of all of those. I have used his methods for accessing the anger. I have felt the sadness. I have done the forgiveness. The problem with all of those is they keep popping back up and I have to do them over again.
The realization I got from this is that you don't forgive, really forgive, until you have released the anger. That takes hard work. At least, it has for me. If anyone knows a better, easier way to do it, please let me know.
What forgiveness means to me:
It doesn't mean that what was done to me was alright. It doesn't mean it will be forgotten. Forgiveness isn't a one-time event. Now that those are out of the way, let me tell you what forgiveness does mean.
Forgiveness means releasing the anger at the person who abused me and releasing the anger at myself because I couldn't prevent the abuse from happening until I was 17 when I was big enough and old enough to say no and not get talked out of my decision. I was finally emotionally older and stronger than my abuser. I finally had the courage to say, if you don't leave me alone, I will tell. I still wasn't courageous enough to follow through and tell, but he didn't know that. I was much, much older before I let go of my own fears so that I could tell. Then I had to forgive myself for taking so long.
Forgiveness means releasing the emotions that are harming me and my body. Holding onto my anger doesn't hurt the other person but it sure can hurt me by becoming depression, by adding pounds to my body, and stealing my spontaneity and joy. Depression can cause such illnesses as headaches and cancer. Why do that to myself?
Forgiveness isn't a one-time thing. I find myself doing it over and over again. Anger and hurt can hide from your conscious mind and be triggered by what seems like unconnected events. For example, my husband Daniel asks me to turn the air conditioner down at night when he goes to bed. Our bedroom is the coldest room in our house. I find myself getting angry at his request because for me, it is an echo of my father telling me what to do when I was a kid. My father was a dictator who was often unreasonable with his demands. My husband is not a dictator and doesn't make unreasonable demands when he asks me to turn down the air. What I have found within myself is another hidden source of anger. I can react and yell at my husband that I am not going to tell the air down or I can look at my misdirected anger for what it is, an echo of the past when I felt helpless and had no choice but to do as my father demanded. I can choose to release this anger and feelings of helplessness and know that my husband would never want me to feel that way where he is concerned.
Tomorrow is a new day. Today I released a new layer of anger. Joy is beginning to come back into my life. For that I am thankful.