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#453854 - 11/15/13 08:04 PM Re: If he apologized, would you forgive? Could you? [Re: Chase Eric]
George Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/01
Posts: 122
Loc: NY metro
I forgave the uncle who abused me, mostly for me. I would've loved to get an actual apology from him, even just an acknowledgement of his guilt that he did it. I heard he died a year ago.. neither ever came. I hope that he was for his own souls sake.

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#453912 - 11/15/13 11:14 PM Re: If he apologized, would you forgive? Could you? [Re: Chase Eric]
Dave PNW Offline


Registered: 04/03/13
Posts: 121
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Eirik, I am glad you asked this question and started this thread on the concept of forgiveness. I have read enough from a variety of spiritual traditions over the years to know there is life affirming power in forgiveness. I know it exists. I just don't understand it. I don't speak the language yet. Jesus spoke it. Gandhi spoke it. And today I hear it in the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh and others who know so much more about suffering than I ever can and yet they speak about forgiveness. Holding anger and remorse too long blinds us to the goodness and beauty and transcendent brilliance of living a fully present life. I will not give this part of me under the delusion it makes me stronger or safer or righteous. I know forgiveness is somehow a part of the healing process. I believe it is in the arc of the trajectory of my own healing journey. Perhaps I can think this only because my abuser wasn't an adult and didn't use overt force. I wasn't raped. I just don't know how to forgive. Not yet.

First I have to fully forgive myself. I am making progress. I have had to venture back into the boy I was and feel his body and think his thoughts. I understand better who I was. I understand now the limits of his responsibility, ability, needs and knowledge. I know how he got there and why he couldn't stop it from happening over and over. I understand myself more now as just a boy of 9 and 12 and 14. I can forgive that.

To forgive I still need to understand as best I can the extent and impact of what he did to me. He was just another kid, but I can't use that anymore to blot out or minimize what he did to me. To understand, it doesn't matter what his intent was. It doesn't matter that he had been abused too. It doesn't matter that he probably didn't realize how he was hurting me. What matters is knowing and accepting that what he did all those times DID hurt me. I have to understand the extent of that injury. For me.

I am still doing the secondary assessment on myself. Its like checking over an accident victim, finding the full extent of what is broken, bleeding or bruised. A recent post talking about the difficulty we have of conveying how we lost our virginity when asked in the innocent context of discussing with others those big life moments. This hit me hard for a few days. It was an injury I had not noticed fully before. For CSA survivors our "first time" experience is often the same as our abuse experience. It was for me.

I lost my virginity to the neighbor boy. I didn't realize it was going to happen then and certainly not in that way. I didn't make a choice. At first I didn't even know what he had taken, but that night afterward I knew I had become a different boy.
I hadn't really thought about it until recently, but I realized how I had created these cover stories all these years. Lies. Purposeful evasion in order to protect my secret and to not threaten the outcomes I wanted. Dishonesty. I had used these lies with women I was becoming intimate with; I had used them in conversations with other guys relaying our stories about growing up; I used them when I spoke with my own son about becoming a man. And up to five months ago I had used them with my wife. It was the cover I had created for the secret. No one could ever know I had been molested at age 9 and sexually abused repeatedly from 12-14.

I realized what I had lost, perhaps for the first time last week. I lost the ability to make that choice freely for myself when I was ready and with the person I chose. He took it from me so casually. It didn't matter to him. He had his taken as well. That precious and awkward and fresh and most intimate part of my young self was just taken. So fast I didn't even realize I had lost a part of me. Later on I had cynically convinced myself it never mattered in the first place. The only thing that mattered was maintaining the secrets.

In the last six months I have been letting out those secrets. Telling the truth more and more. I have come clean with my wife and next will be my son. The truth does set you free. I am working on that and perhaps someday I will be able to know fully what it is I am forgiving....really forgiving. Then perhaps I can. I will cultivate that power and that fierce compassion. Then I will give it freely, because I can. Peace my friends and thank you.

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#454062 - 11/16/13 09:28 PM Re: If he apologized, would you forgive? Could you? [Re: Chase Eric]
Ever-fixed Mark Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/02/10
Posts: 729
Loc: United States
I've thought about this a great deal.

To be forgiven, someone has to admit that they wronged you, apologize for the wrong they did, and atone for that wrong without knowing if they'll *ever* be forgiven.

Forgiveness isn't a machine where you put in an apology at one end and we are obligated to forgive at the other. Forgiveness isn't amnesia that takes away how we were wronged - we can't ever forget. Forgiveness isn't an agreement to never talk about what happened - we won't let our stories be silenced.

If someone never admits they did wrong, never apologizes, and never tries to atone for what they did, they don't deserve - and should not be granted - forgiveness.

The last remaining power our wrongers have over us is sapping our energy by their unwillingness or inability to admit what they've done.

Sometimes for us to heal and begin living again we need to let go of that wrong. Letting it go doesn't mean we've granted forgiveness, or that we'll forget, or that we'll be silent.

It just means we refuse to spend any more energy on them that we could use on ourselves.

-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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#454067 - 11/16/13 09:35 PM Re: If he apologized, would you forgive? Could you? [Re: Chase Eric]
Frustrated Offline


Registered: 10/28/13
Posts: 192
The way I feel is this I will forgive when I can forget. What does that tell you. I have too much to deal with than giving any thought to forgiving them

James

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