Originally posted by Jay Bee:
You certainly can't call it "acceptance" Some might call it "coming to terms with it" but even that is not quite it, it sounds too resolving.
It could be a dulling of pain except that something could occur to make just as sharp as it ever was all over again. Something does happen though that could lead to forgiving but something worthwhile nontheless, even if that forgiving never takes place.
This is troubling me as well. I have chosen to call this feeling "recovery" because I feel that I have recovered something of my earlier life, but even that is the wrong word because I am a different person now than I was then. Perhaps "emergence" is the right word. The person that was hiding behind all the hate and pain and fear comes out from behind that wall and starts to get on with things. I agree, it is a difficult phase to define.
I have to think about how we may have hurt others unintentionally throughout the process of dealing with all this ^&%*$#* and if by asking for possible forgiveness from those folks, are we being hypocritical by not giving the same towards the perps. My gut feelings say no way, but sometimes I DO get a little uneasy over this seeming contradiction at first glance.
In the past, I intentionally hurt people. I think most CSA survivors do hurt people, although some are still afraid or unwilling to admit that they have done it.(look in the Friends and Family forum for evidence of this)
Abuse breeds abusers. I acted out my abuse in 100 different ways. Yes, the pain and anger from my abuse may have been part of my reasoning, but I
was the one who made the decision to hurt people. I was also the one who made the decision to stop hurting people.
Some therapists don't teach this reasoning. They will happily tell us that nothing we did was our fault; we are blameless because we were abused as children. I call bullshit on that. If we use the same rationale on perps, then the perps are not guilty of their crimes because they were abused as children.
Being abused didn't take away our powers to reason or make decisions. If we make the decision to hurt someone else, then we are at fault. And I think that until survivors come to this realisation, they will be cursed to forever relive their abuse by abusing other people.
This is what is at the core of my belief in forgiveness. I know that I have hurt a lot of people. One look at my address book and all the names of friends who no longer speak to me will confirm that. I have seen the pain that I have caused and it tears me apart. I am aware of the damage I have caused myself. But I also understand that I am the architect of this pain. Yes, my abuse formed the foundation, but I am the one who chose to hurt other people. Once I came to this understanding, I began to understand my actions.
If I went back to the people I hurt and explained that I hurt them but it wasn't my fault because I was abused, they will thank me and then forever shut me out of their lives. Excuses mean jack squat. Those people don't care why
I hurt them, they only care that
I hurt them. So I began to ask people for their forgiveness. It worked. Not perfectly; because in some cases I had caused a lot of damage, but by and large, when I asked people for forgiveness, it worked. Asking forgiveness started a dialogue with the people I have hurt.
That was the beginning. The next step was to look at myself and accept that I have been very self-destructive. I was killing myself with guilt; guilt from the abuse and the emotional manipulation by my perp, guilt for the damage that I have done others, and guilt over the damage I have caused myself. So I let go of the guilt. I forgave myself for all the self-hate and doubt and shame. It didn't ease all the guilt. I still feel terrible about what I have done to other people; but it has helped a lot with my own peace of mind.
Forgiving my perp was the logical step from all this. In my own self-searching, I realised that I was capable of reclaiming my own innocence. Nothing had been taken away from me that I had not given up. So, I finally accepted the fact that I was capable of redeeming myself, of "reclaiming my innocence." I am still in the process of this redemption. It has taken me to places that I never imagined were possible. But during the first stages of this journey I forgave my perp.
The decision was not easy. The last thing I wanted to do was forgive him, because I thought that by forgiving him I was saying that what he did to me was acceptable. However, someone much wiser than me taught me the truth of forgiveness. Forgiving is not excusing. My perp will answer for his crimes. Forgiving is simply acknowledging that perps can also find redemption. It can happen. It does happen. I know this is true, because I found redemption myself when I finally accepted my own abuse of others.
And to go back to your second point, Jay Bee, I felt the same contradiction. I was being a hypocrite when I found myself asking for forgiveness when I harboured anger and hate against others. When I forgave my perp, I didn't expect anything to happen. And for a long time, nothing did. But then, eventually, I felt a growing sense of peace. I began to let go of my anger and hate, and I found that when I did this, it became easier for me to beg other people for their forgiveness.
One final note. I did not make this journey alone. It took a long time, and I had a lot of help, mainly from guys on Malesurvivor but also from a lot of gifted others, including my wife, my therapist, the lead detective on my case (a man truly called to his vocation), several priests and ministers, and a few people who will remain nameless. There are people in this world who teach Truth. Call them teachers, spiritual guides, therapists or ministers, they are dedicated to helping. My advice is "seek them out." Or call for help and they will seek you out. But if you do anything in the new year, find one of these people.
You won't be sorry.