Archive for October 2nd, 2008

I received an email from a reader who asked me to talk more about “processing the forgiveness” part. I have written about forgiveness several times on this blog. However, I do not claim to have all of the answers.

I will share my own forgiveness process and then share what I have heard from others. I have not fully forgiven my mother, although I really am trying. However, I do know child abuse survivors who have completed the forgiveness process, and I will pass along what they have told me.

I used to hate my mother/abuser. I would nurse the bitterness, and I would be so frustrated that she continued to have the power to hurt me. It simply was not fair.

I was listening to a talk radio show, and somebody called in with a similar issue. The host said that the way to get out of this dynamic is to forgive. I about choked at that advice because my mother did not deserve forgiveness. However, after really thinking about it, I decided that I deserved to be free from the pain, so I began the process of forgiving her.

For me, forgiveness has meant choosing to stop thinking about my mother/abuser and, instead, use that energy to heal myself. I made a conscious choice to stop nursing the bitterness. Whenever my mother/abuser would pop into my head, I would choose to think about something else. Gradually, as I stopped putting energy into hating my mother/abuser, I began to release the bitterness.

The next step was to heal myself. Part of healing myself involved expressing my anger toward my mother/abuser. This was very different from nursing the bitterness. Instead of pouring more energy into myself through hating her, I was pouring energy out of myself by giving my anger somewhere to go. I did not need to interact with my mother to express my anger. I managed this by punching pillows and doing other physical things to process my anger.

Since then, I have moved into a place of indifference toward my mother/abuser. I really do not care if she lives or dies. (However, I will admit that I get an involuntary smile on my face when I think about her dying). I put no energy into her at all. I rarely think about her, and, when I do, I just let the thought pass on through.

So, this is where I stand now as far as forgiving my mother/abuser.

I have friends who have moved past this stage of indifference. They tell me that the next step is to grow compassion for your abuser. You see the weakness in the abuser, and you feel compassion for all of the hurt that s/he has suffered. You want to reach out yourself to heal your abuser’s wounds.

Personally, I do not know if I will ever reach that place. I cannot fathom wanting to spend one more second of my life around my mother/abuser. However, these abuse survivors were once in the place where I am, and that is where they have gone. I just need to trust that my intuition will lead me where I need to go if and when the time comes.

Related Topic:

How to Forgive an Abuser After Child Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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