Why Forgive an Abuser?

People ask me how I’m able to move forward after being abused for so many years.  Some people have actually expressed anger and frustration that I am no longer angry and silently wishing some horrible tragedy befall my abuser.  “They don’t deserve to be forgiven” or similar statements are made in a blurted out emotional declaration.  At the end of the day, I needed to forgive.  I needed to move on. Having that kind of anxiety and pain stored in my body was exhausting.  I had so many triggers around certain types of clothing, sex, trusting others around my own kids, being able to treat myself well and not feel guilty about it amongst other things. I wanted to be able to let that go.  My father was long gone out of my life but with this anxiety and panic still floating though my body made me feel like he could show up unexpectedly.  In a way he was.  I was tired of it.

What does forgiveness mean to me? What does that look like?

In choosing to not carry around the burden of anger, fear, resentment and anxiety, I was so much more relaxed.  This is in no way a “wiping the slate clean” and somehow saying what my father did was ok, it’s just that his choices are not my problem anymore.  I can look forward, surround myself with healthy, positive, supportive people.  I can make myself the priority that my parents never did.  I can love myself enough to let the pain go.

I no longer have to relive my experiences as I discuss or share them.  I don’t wonder if my father understands how much he hurt me.  I don’t ask questions around why me, what could I have done differently to prevent the abuse, why didn’t he love me.  The answers couldn’t possibly make me feel any better about what he did to me.  The answers would undoubtedly lead to more questions and none of the answers would help me heal or lead to a place that I would feel loved or supported.  I had to do that for myself.  I found a positive energy about what happened to me and that lies in the fact that I was strong enough to charge my father, move on in my life (with a lot of support and therapy) to a place that I don’t live in fear and am willing to be open with people.  I am still working on putting myself first and loving myself enough to not put other’s agendas ahead of my own, but I’ll get there. Forgiving my father has allowed me to enjoy who I have become despite the abuse he put me through.

Now that I am 40 years old, I find myself enjoying the who I have become without asking for permission to be who I am.  It’s a great feeling.