Sunday, September 21, 2008

What Does Forgiveness Mean To Me?

As you all know, I have been reading several books on the subject of forgiveness and I have been sharing information from those books. Well, I am reading another book called "finding forgiveness, A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger And Bitterness" written by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang, Ed. D.

The book gives writing exercises which I am going to do to see what emotions come up for me and to see if I have any more forgiveness work left to do. The first journal exercise is to write about what forgiveness means to me. So here goes.

What does forgiveness mean to me? Forgiveness means not being in extreme emotional or physical pain because of the tension of holding in all of my rage. It means not making myself sick from the stress of holding it all inside of me like a volcano or a pressure cooker with the pressure set too high, just waiting to blow up.

I had to quit writing for a minute because I started coughing so I have some resistance to doing this exercise. I am willing to be willing to do these exercises and the forgiveness work that follows.

Forgiveness means letting go of the rage and seeing the hurt underneath that the rage has been covering up. I am in a safe place and in a safe relationship that allows me to do this work now.

Forgiveness allows me to nurture and love myself without blame or guilt getting in my way.

Forgiveness means I can let go of the need for revenge and hate and realize that justice doesn't always happen in the manner that I expect it to.

Forgiveness means feeling compassion for myself and others who have lived with incest and other forms of abuse and survived. It is also feeling compassion for those who didn't survive.

Forgiveness, for me, means seeing my dad, Raymond, as the wounded child that he was. Raymond hurt so bad inside that he couldn't control his reaching out and hurting others. I can clearly see that Raymond only felt in control when he was controlling others. He was a frightened child stuck in his own pain and not knowing how to get out. That is why he drank and became an alcoholic. I can only imagine the fear and guilt that Raymond lived with daily. I can feel compassion for the frightened child that was Raymond.

I can't tell you the date or time that I started forgiving Raymond. It was a gradual process of letting go a little at a time. It doesn't mean that I don't sometimes find myself angry at what he did. More often, today, I sometimes find myself sad because of the way the incest affected my childhood and my life as an adult.

Grieving is part of the process of forgiving. I have grieved for the parents that didn't love me the way that I wanted to be loved and cared for. I have grieved because I didn't love myself enough. I have grieved because I was so afraid. I have grieved because of the imaginary family that I always wanted that never existed. I have grieved for the young woman who wanted to be a virgin on her wedding night. I have grieved for the girl who wanted to be honest and wasn't because of the family secrets that she was forced to keep. I have grieved for the little girl who just wanted her daddy's and momma's love. All of this has been a part of the process of forgiving that I have experienced.

Forgiveness has also been about the freedom to become me --- to come out of hiding and out of fear which keeps me from really living.

Forgiveness has become a gift that I have given myself. It had nothing to do with Raymond and everything to do with me.

Forgiveness, for me, was a change of attitude. Where I once saw darkness, I now see light. Where I once had tears, now I have laughter. Joy is part of my life today. Fear rarely visits.

Forgiveness enables me to see the lessons that I have learned that make me the wonderful, powerful, loving, compassionate woman that I am today. Today I have the courage to reach out to others.

Forgiveness has released hate from my life. I no longer hate myself or my body. I love me.

Related Articles:

Acknowledging Your Grief And Releasing It ---

Grieving Again ---

Forgiveness Starts With A Decision ---

Healing And Letting Go Of Repressed Emotions ---

Forgiveness, Done In Layers --- 06/ forgiveness-done-in-layers.html

Breaking The Silence---Incest May Be A Part Of My Life Series---Part 4 ---

Family Secrets---Incest May Be A Part Of My Life Series---Part 5 ---

Forgiveness Is For You, Not The Other Person ---

Prelude To Forgiveness ---

Childhood Memories ---

Compassion Begins With Me ---

Compassion, The Ultimate Act Of Love ---

A Day In The Life Of An Incest Survivor ---


Patricia Singleton said...

Dr. Eileen Borris has two sites that you can check out:

Corinne Edwards said...

This is probably not what you intended as an example -

- but this article is helping me forgive a %*^#*% roofer who did a bad job on my house and I got totally flooded last week.

See, Patricia, you never know where your words are going to land!

Patricia Singleton said...

Corinne, sorry about the flooding. I have been wondering how you faired with the flood waters in Chicago, but I never thought about flooding from a roof. Glad I could help you forgive your roofer. Your peace of mind is what is important. You don't get that when you are furious with someone else.

Deborah Weber said...

Patricia -

I honor you as you walk your path of recovery, and I, too, believe forgivenss is an integral, although complex component of all healing.

Since you've been doing lots of reading, you may want to add another book to your pile - Emotional Genius by Karla McLaren. She too is a survivor, and I've found her work quite interesting and helpful. One of the things she says is "Forgiveness is not an emotion. It is a decision made by your whole self after your true emotional work has been done."

Continued blessings on your journey!


Patricia Singleton said...

Deborah, thank you. I will check out the book. Thank you for sharing the quote. I haven't heard the concept of forgiveness expressed that way before and it does make sense to me. The emotional work can be very time consuming and sometimes difficult to get through.

Jenny said...

Forgiveness can mean so many different things to everyone, however your post on this was magnificent. I am thinking I need to do this because I think, no I believe I have a lot to forgive. I need to forgive others for things done and I need to forgive myself for things I have done. Thank you for bringing these revelations to me.

Patricia Singleton said...

Jenny, Thank you and you are very welcome. Helping others see is a big part of why I write these articles.

Liara Covert said...

Reflecting on underlying issues is a cathartic process. You encourage people to explore their own misunderstandings in life as they also learn to forgive.

Patricia Singleton said...

Liara, thank you. Encouraging others to explore their own issues is exactly why I write some of these articles. I always hope that by sharing my own experiences someone else will be able to come out of the abuse situations or the aftermath sooner than I did. I also hope to open doors of communication to someone who thinks they are alone and don't realize that there are others who have survived and have hope to offer to them.