On my blog entry Struggle between Religion and Healing from Child Abuse, a fellow child abuse survivor blogger named Nancy Richards posted an insightful comment. I checked out her blog, and I was impressed. So, I thought I would put her blog in the spotlight today.
Nancy’s blog is called Heal and Forgive. Her tag line is “Issues surrounding adult survivors of childhood abuse, family estrangement, forgiveness, and reconciliation.” Considering that the issues of forgiveness and family estrangement are such a difficult topic for child abuse survivors, I thought you might want to know that her blog exists.
I really like what she has posted on the side of her blog. I think this is quite insightful and healing, particularly for those of you who wrestle with being true to healing yourself while, at the same time, true to your faith:
For decades, I heard from friends, relatives, therapists, and fellow Christians, that I needed to forgive my abusers in order to heal. This advice – and the attempts I made to forgive before I’d learned to exercise personal boundaries – left me open to further injury and damaged me deeply.
When I finally mustered the courage to buck societal expectations; not to forgive; and to put my own healing and well-being first, I achieved a level of healing that I never thought was possible. My period of Not forgiving created the space necessary to achieve the greatest emotional growth of my life. Wow!
The unintentional by-product of this healing, was – ironically – forgiveness.
At that time, I realized that the old adage, “Forgive and Heal,” was backwards. For me, it was “Heal and Forgive!”
If I only knew *then* that adequate healing had to come first, it would have saved me a great deal of time and pain. So, now I shout it from the roof tops “Heal, THEN Forgive!” ~ Nancy Richards from Heal and Forgive
I have found this dynamic to be true in many areas of my life. People will tell me that I need to do X to get to Y, but really I need to do Y in order to get to X. For example, my marriage improved when I was willing to leave it. Until then, I was a doormat because, no matter what happened, I was willing to stay. Once I was willing to go, things changed, making me want to stay.
That ties into what Nancy says on her blog. How can I possibly consider forgiving when I am in deep pain and unable to protect myself? However, after I am no longer in constant pain, it frees me to recognize that my abusers did not break me, which makes the thought of forgiveness a little more palatable.
I still cannot say that I have the forgiveness stuff all figured out. As I have shared before, I consider forgiveness to mean choosing to stop nursing the bitterness and, instead, use that freed up energy to help heal myself. Others tell me that forgiveness can run deeper, but I am not there. Will I ever be there? I don’t know.
So, if you are interested in reading another perspective on healing and forgiveness from someone who is farther along that process than I am, check out Nancy’s blog. I particularly recommend her blog for those of you who are Christians and wrestle with how to stay true to your faith and the wounded child inside at the same time.
Books by Nancy Richards:
- Heal & Forgive: Forgiveness in the Face of Abuse
- Heal & Forgive: The Journey from Abuse and Estrangement to Reconciliation
Photo credit: Amazon.com