Saturday, June 9, 2007

Forgiveness, Done In Layers

I just finished reading a free e-book from the Urban Monk Albert Foong which you will find on his website, . 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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia, thanks for posting a link to my site and ebook. I'm a bit confused as to your article though, did the ebook help or did it not? Any feedback would be great as I can update the book to make it more helpful =)

From what I gather, you tried all the different techniques, and it didn't work until you fixed your anger first. Was the anger technique from my book, or did you try something else? Should I make it clearer that you need to fix your anger first?

I think it's normal for anger and sadness to come in waves. It's like a cycle - with each cycle reducing in intensity (I hope).

I also have the forgiveness series, and the post that many have emailed me saying it's changed their lives, the "what your ego is" post (it's the second one on the most popular posts chart).

Please have a look at that one, and see if it helps - you can email me at albert(at)urbanmonk(dot)net if you need to talk any more about this =)

Anonymous said...

Ooh one more thing: I think the most important part is love. Loving yourself will help negate the poison that has been injected in you by what happened. More on this in the forgiveness articles. Please let me know how you go =)

Patricia Singleton said...

Thank, yes, your article does help. It is information I already knew and needed to be reminded of. I have used the techniques and benefited from them at the time that I used them. I think you do need to "fix" your anger first and that was the intended point of my message. I may not have been clear about that myself. I will definitely read the rest of your articles. I reccommended your e-book because it does work. Sorry, I didn't say that. Your book was my starting point and I just went with my thoughts from there. Didn't intend to leave anyone hanging.

Anonymous said...

Good to hear =)

Patricia Singleton said...

Hi, everyone. This article is posted in the Personal Stories of Change Blog: Edition 3 found at

Megs said...

Hi Patricia, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such thoughtful comments. I will read through your posts on forgiveness. I do intend to forgive - for me it is necessary. I don't like holding on to all that negativity. Now, reconciliation is a whole other ballgame and that, well, I don't know what my intentions are with that! Anyway - I have a question on this post - when you say you can "release the anger" what do you mean? What is the process that allows you to do this? Thanks.

Patricia Singleton said...

Megs, you are very welcome. I wish that I could give you a simple answer to your question but there isn't one. In my experience, you have to feel all of the anger that you may not have been able to feel when you were a child being abused. It took me about 4 years of facing my anger and feeling it before I could defuse the rage that was inside of me. I had help part of the time in 2 different counseling groups for incest survivors. I had to learn to feel the anger. Once the rage was felt, it lost its power to control me. That is as good of an explanation as I can give you. I hope it helps.

Serena Bradshaw said...

Pleased I found your blog. I'm struggling with forgiveness. I realise how much anger I'm carrying around and don't know how to release it after 50 years. However I kind of by-passed the forgiveness thing and handed it over to another power.
Now I just need to get rid of my anger!
How do we do this!

Patricia Singleton said...

Serena, There is no simple answer to your question. Healing takes time and patience with yourself. You have acknowledged that you are angry. Now you need to allow yourself to feel your anger. That was the scary part for me. I was afraid that I would hurt myself or someone else if I let my rage out. Get yourself a support system, if possible. I used 12-Step programs, which were a safe place for me to feel and vent my anger. I wrote my feelings out on paper as well. You will find many posts here on anger and my process. I was so full of rage that it took me about 4 years to be able to control it and let it out in useful ways. Learn to love yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Let your anger out in constructive ways and in small amounts rather than waiting for huge explosions of rage that do more damage that has to be repaired. Visit here as often as you want. Ask questions when you need too.