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#364034 - 06/12/11 10:58 AM Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason?
earlybird Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: WA USA
Forgiveness – Guns – or Reason?

On which would I rely if I found myself sitting across the table from my rapists? I’ve read posts on MS that indicate that all three are acceptable tools depending upon the situation. Out of the three, “forgiveness” seems to be the most bantered about on MS. I understand the argument that there is redemptive value in forgiveness, but for me and only me, forgiveness without understanding is void of redemptive worth. I see absolution as (often, anyway) an avoidance of doing the hard work the offender and the offended have before them – a journey which I believe to be necessary in order to arrive at complete and final acceptance. So, forgiveness would not be my choice.

So I find myself now mentally pacing between “guns” and “reason”. (I don’t actually mean using a steely cold object that kills, like a gun; I prefer to think of guns as a metaphor.) I have to ask, “What would be the value in pulling a verbal trigger and firing words designed to destroy my aggressor?” Once dead, would I then use the sharp edges of consonants to skin the hide from the bloody corpse? With the hide removed, then do I unfurl it and tack it on the hot wall of my psychological shed to scorch away what rotting, smelly flesh is left? Then, as a final show of disdain, do I slice off the head of the beast after the tacking is complete and mount it on the ever thickening barricade of protection I’ve built within my mind as a display of my valor and victory? No, killing either in the flesh or psychologically is not my choice either. If I could do the above with perfect moral execution then I’d do it, but I fear my failings would put me in the position of needing to return to the first choice because I would be in great need of forgiveness.

With the jockeying between forgiveness and guns behind me I’m left with the difficult task of dealing with reason. Not reason as in “why did this happen” or “whether the rape makes sense”. I’m talking about using the analysis of my life’s experience combined with the wisdom of others, such as the voices here on MS, to come to a resolve. For me to do this I need to turn my focus away from my rapist, an act not afforded by either forgiveness or guns, and seek an answer regarding the type of human I desire to become. One that’s morally superior and has the power to grant forgiveness? A man with a desire to murder or destroy? Or a man who pulls from every source granted him to comprehend the reasons and meanings behind what happened, to discover what he needs to do to rise above the painful and negative effects and to discern how deep into the dank swamp of memories he is willing to travel to find rich farmland in which to plant more fruitful and nourishing thoughts and beliefs? To me, the latter sounds the most reasonable.

_________________________
Balanced (My goal)

There is symmetry
In self-reflection
Life exemplified
Grace personified

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#364049 - 06/12/11 06:59 PM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: earlybird]
DannyT Offline
Member

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 402
Earlybird,

I think there's a fourth choice, letting go, that is the optimal one. To me it combines all three of the choices you've listed.

I think it's important to get past the thought, "somebody did this terrible thing to me," and rage and screaming about it can be really useful for that, depending on how you do it (I guess this is what you mean by guns). You could make an effigy and really tear it apart. The key to making this effective is telling yourself: I'm doing this to express all the rage, to really pour it out. And when I'm done, the rage is done. I like to write my rage all over some paper, scrawling out all my varieties of hateful inner dialogue until I'm exhausted. Then I burn it, saying, "With this burning I'm burning up my hate and fear." This variety of guns is all about letting go of the hate and fear. I've had to do it many times, and it always relieves the tension a bit. One of the reasons we're so caught in the web of our abuse is the fact that we never got to really rage and fight when it happened, and as it comes back to mind we never to get to effectively rage (and I mean by seeing results in the other person). This technique lets us see the rage do something.

Reason is another way of letting go. It's a way of self-therapy, or being one's own friend. To me it's much better to do the talk work with friends or in a journal, where you can respond to yourself and see the story get a response. I've done journalling where I let my inner self talk to me. I ask myself questions then go back and the little abused guy talk. But friends have been really helpful, too. To me this part is Letting go of the story of the abuse.

Forgiveness is another form of letting go. The way you're discussing it, you're missing what is to me its greatest value. It's not about giving absolution at all. It's also not about understanding (which implies logical reasoning is needed and maybe justice, which are totally different things). To me forgiveness means: I understand the other person in this abuse situation was another human being and had problems he wasn't able to handle.. It means saying to myself: human society is filled with all kinds of people, good and bad and horrible and crazy. On a good day, I'll meet good people. On my abuse days, I met disturbed people, and their problems expressed themselves to me through the abuse they gave me. All of us are forces of nature. I don't blame the sun when it goes behind a cloud. Maybe should forgive it, too.

In this way, forgiveness is part of letting go. It is letting go of the attachment to victimhood that forces us into the cycle of flashbacks. It says: The abuse was an act of nature, an act by a disturbance in the social network. It wasn't about me. When I forgive my abuser, I give him back his troubled humanity. It's like I'm saying to him, "dude, you're messed up, and you need some help. You suck, but you need some help. You did something bad to me, but I'm strong, and I'll get over it. You're human, and you need some help. Now go get it and get out of my life/mind." When he stops being a monster, I stop being afraid. Forgiveness is, thus, letting go of fear at the root.

Anyway, I'm babbling, but I hope it's useful.

Danny


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#364058 - 06/12/11 08:04 PM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: DannyT]
earlybird Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: WA USA
DannyT,

Your idea of “letting go” is a great addition to the equation one I will give full support.

There is a troubling aspect to it, as there is to almost any way of processing. In saying “one must let go” there’s an implication that we (the survivor) are holding on. Some might argue the case we, the survivor, is hung on to. If that is the case “letting go” becomes a rather ineffective, passive act.

I’m incline to think in my case, in the beginning stages of recovery, I was “held” by the act but as time went on I began to “hold” onto the rape as a type of definition of who I was. So under this assumption the thing for me to figure out how to do, as you elegantly suggested, is “let go”.

This said though, getting to that place of being able to let go, I still maintain one must wrestle with the three issues I raised. That it’s in the processing of the sexual assault and its affects is when we can arrive at what we need to do. There is the act of forgiving (as in absolution) or implementing justice (the gun) or reasoning of all the factors including the humanity and frailty of the offender. (I’d like to add that my definition of “reasoning” is not only a mental exercise. It incorporates all parts of our being, philosophical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual - if inclined)

Once I’ve accomplished this I believe I can “let go”.

Thanks Danny for helping me think this through some more. Earlybird




Edited by earlybird (06/12/11 08:06 PM)
_________________________
Balanced (My goal)

There is symmetry
In self-reflection
Life exemplified
Grace personified

Top
#364059 - 06/12/11 08:26 PM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: earlybird]
Ever-fixed Mark Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/02/10
Posts: 728
Loc: United States
I keep thinking that there are more than just those three options. One other that has occurred to me is Silence.

-efm

_________________________

Everybody here's got a story to tell
Everybody's been through their own hell
There's nothing too special about getting hurt
Getting over it, that takes the work

- "Duck and Cover" by Glen Phillips

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#364062 - 06/12/11 09:21 PM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: earlybird]
DannyT Offline
Member

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 402
Earlybird,

I'm glad my thoughts were useful. It's always interesting to think these things through.

The troubling aspect is, I believe, mostly true. We are the ones holding onto the abuse. The abuse doesn't have a mind or a body, so it can't hold onto us. Instead, we grip it very tightly to our hearts because it is unresolved trauma. It shocks us and we return to it. It's like PTSD. It's also like having a sore spot in your mouth that you can't help but choose to irritate. We don't know what to do with it, but we can't let it go. We mull it over and over and over, and even though we think we want it to go away, we bring it back again.

Letting go is far from passive. It is training the mind to disengage, and training the body to disengage, from this repetitive mental activity. It's a very active process.

I agree that the three issues you raised are important. My thoughts on their usefulness are slightly different than yours, so I'll spell them out in case they're helpful.

Processing by analysis can be useful, but it's also dangerous. It's an attempt to use reason to understand something that is not reasonable, and that is probably not truly comprehensible, in that the pain is not logical or philosophical, or even maybe emotional. It's a track we put ourselves on of being in the "state of being an abused guy". I think meditation is a more useful approach for this kind of processing than intellectual analysis. Meditation helps one train one's mind around managing the chemistry of the abuse responses.

Conflating forgiveness and absolution makes forgiveness much harder (to me). I actually don't think any CSA sufferer could really give absolution, since it is to free someone from the ramifications of being an abuser. A priest gives absolution as redemption from sin. Forgiveness is just separation from the act of blaming. It's hugely powerful. It removes victimhood from the self.

Implementing justice might be extremely important. It would be good to make the world safer. But I doubt it would aid in healing.

Thanks for the thread. Writing these things down is helpful.

Danny


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#364066 - 06/12/11 09:56 PM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: DannyT]
earlybird Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: WA USA
EFM,

I find the idea of silence as a tool intriguing but you were far too silent on the matter for me to understand its implementation. Are you willing to elaborate? The silence is killing me. LOL

DannyT,

You’ve said a number of things in your last two responses that has me really working overtime. Not as in trying to find fault in your thoughts. They are much too well thought out. Rather to integrate the strengths found within your method into weak places of my own. I particularly liked the line;

“Letting go is far from passive. It is training the mind to disengage, and training the body to disengage, from this repetitive mental activity. It's a very active process.”

I stand corrected when viewing “Passive” and “Letting go” through the telescope lens aimed to your setting.

I do believe we have a very different interpretation of what it means when I say I’m reasoning my way through the rape. Reasoning, to me, is not like a mathematical formula that once I’ve discovered the correct order of numbers and symbols the single correct answer will present itself. For me it is the combining of all that I am which is far more than statistics knocked out of order. I think if we were to be in a long conversation there is a chance that your concept of “meditation” will alien very closely with my concept of reasoning. In the end I believe we are both learning to “train our minds” and “end the abuse response”.

As to overlaying forgiveness and absolution you are correct, I’m guilty as charged. (My past Christian beliefs on the subject haunting me} I’ve tried to view it in the ways I often read here on MS and it simply doesn’t resonate with me. That is why I cannot nor want to forgive. It’s not necessary for my recovery. Despite what others may think to not forgive has nothing to do with not being able to incorporate the sexual assault, understands its influences and grow to be a stronger person, not despite the rape but because of triumphing over the “abuse” and becoming a person who has “managed the chemistry of his brain, the temperature of his heart and the kindness of his soul. (I’m not there yet but I’m working on it and your and other’s responses are helping further that goal)

Thanks to each of you, really I mean it thanks, Earlybird.

_________________________
Balanced (My goal)

There is symmetry
In self-reflection
Life exemplified
Grace personified

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#364069 - 06/12/11 10:27 PM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: earlybird]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
I don't know if I would ever really be at the point where I can address the man who raped me, even a psychological construct to serve as a representative of him.

But your work here is extraordinary. I don't know if you know this but this here is like the "magnum opus" of recovery work. I don't know how you do it.

just wanted to affirm you in the great work you are doing here even if I don't know what to say.

_________________________
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

- Saint John of the Cross

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#364074 - 06/13/11 12:54 AM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: CruxFidelis]
Darkheart Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 331
Loc: Illinois
Earlybird,

Sorry it's taken me so long to form a reply to your post. This has really affected me deeply. The whole concept of sitting across the table from the perps that raped me ...it just blew me away...

I like to consider myself far along in my healing, and then BAM i get smacked upside the head with another lesson ...

What would i do? I honestly don't know. I keep a tight reign on my emotions, so as not to lose control. I have a darkness inside that scares me ...a lot

I can say that forgiveness is out of the equation ...that is one thing i have control over ..instead, i am drawn towards reason. Like you, i ask myself what kind of person do i want to become? I too want to pull meaning, but I'm not finding much ..

Silence? Not me...i like to yak way too much. And yell and scream and rage and curse ...so, silence won't work either.

So, what is the answer for me then? Letting go...it's harder than it sounds, painfully so. It's hard to let go of the persona of victim, and assume triumph over my past. I don't know why. Perhaps the pain has become familiar to me..??But i am trying day by day...

A dear friend of mine has taught me a valuable tool for my recovery : live in the Now...this second ..this moment. Not yesterday or tomorrow, but in this moment ...what do i want to accomplish with this moment?? That is the question i ask myself when my demons come haunting me...

_________________________
My Story...

http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthr...8711#Post348711

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#364077 - 06/13/11 01:30 AM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: Darkheart]
OKIE MIKE Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/04
Posts: 979
Loc: HULBERT OK
Early bird , I have often thought of what I would do if I found the SOB that raped me . I believe that I would beat the shit out of him . And if I had a wepon I would use it.
I have a lot of anger that has built up for 30+ years . And yes I want revenge . Because He did more than just harm my body . He destroued my ability to live a Normal Life.

_________________________
MICHAEL

"I HAD NO SHOES THEN I SAW A MAN THAT HAD NO FEET"

"All I can do is be me, whoever that is"

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#364085 - 06/13/11 07:47 AM Re: Forgiveness - Guns - or Reason? [Re: OKIE MIKE]
earlybird Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: WA USA
Thank Crux and Darkheart,

I hear a similar theme in both your responses so I patched you two together. You have both been wonderful friends to me over the past year. Participants in my painfully slow efforts at growing, thank you. Your support is invaluable to me.

Crux, your sexual assault/rape, I imagine, is still very fresh, too raw to even attempt to try to visualize confronting your attacker. As many of you know I’ve had forty years at dealing with this. First I attempt to hide from it. Race away from it. Try to ignore it. Rage against it. Mourn because of it. Sit with it. Study it. Find meanings from it. Write about it. Share it. And now - use it.

I wish I was far enough along the path of understanding and I guess healing from this as to not slip back into some of my early attempts of hiding, running, ignoring, raging (especially raging), mourning, for I have found that for me to sit with it, which to me means sitting in my mind’s eye with my rapists, has proven to be the most valuable approach though extremely uncomfortable. I’m only able to do it because I know I have others sitting beside me, like an army prepared to go to battle.

Michael,

Please know I in no way wish to dissuade you from your anger or desire for revenge. Each of us must process sexual assault coming to our own individual conclusions. In many of my poems, especially a year ago, I spoke of my hate and desire for revenge, which is different than justice. (Justice is specific. Hate spreads) Anger is a reasonable response just not one I wish to maintain. I’m not strong enough to manage it properly or have the strength to lug it around. I think on this issue I came to a similar place as DannyT was suggesting – I needed to let it go before it, my anger, got a hold of me. (Easier said than done)

_________________________
Balanced (My goal)

There is symmetry
In self-reflection
Life exemplified
Grace personified

Top
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