- To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon.
- To renounce anger or resentment against.
- To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example).
These are the three components of forgiveness for me.
I had two perpetrators, one at age 12, one at age 3.
I have forgiven the boy who raped me when I was 12. I have forgiven in all 3 ways. This is beacuse:
- He was a boy too (14). He was the only son of a strongly Old-World-culture family and he was treated as the center of the universe. He was NEVER disciplined in any real way. Never held accountable for anything he did. He got wilder and more vicious as he grew.
- I can not prove this, but have very strong suspicions that he was either sexually abused or exposed to sexual behavior. By the second part I mean that it would have been easy for him to observe adults having sex -he did once make a rather vague allusion to this.
- He is dead. By his own hand. He took his head off with a shotgun sitting against a tree in his parent's backyard when he was in his early 30's. His adult life was a haze of addictions, alcohol and drugs of all types.
I have forgiven him completely. It is easier to do since he is dead. The manner of his death and the facts of his life tell me that he too suffered. His sister killed herself less than two years later. In my heart, I know that he was a prime cause in that death also.
I have excused his acts, absolved him from any possible payment, and most important, I have released my anger and resentment against him. Again, this is easier because he is dead. Whether or not there can or will be forgiveness from any other source is not my concern, but for what it's worth, such forgiveness has my approval.
The man who lowered my pants before I was 3 is another story.
As I made my way from Victim to Survivor, as I now approach the possibility of having that which his actions denied to me for 47 years, I have found my anger and resentment have grown smaller and weaker.
In some ways, my anger and resentment have turned to pity.
In some ways my anger and resentment have become my motivation. Living well, living free of his legacy, is
the best revenge. (I am not a vengeful person.)
If he still lives, he will be in his 70's, or 80's. If he knocked on my door, this minute, and begged my forgiveness, I would tell him this: "You must confess publically what you did to me and to any other child. You must register as a sex offender. Then, I will believe you are sorry and understand the harm you have done. Then I will forgive your debt to me."
But I will never excuse his actions. He was an adult. He was a predator.
Is this inconsistent? Perhaps, but I don't care.
I expect I will be forgiven for my inability to forgive what he did.