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.