The word forgiveness is defined as the process of forgiving, or being forgiven. But what does it mean exactly? What does that process look like? And more importantly, what’s the point of it?
Forgiveness is accepting your decisions or your actions. Recognizing the trauma that hurt you or caused emotional damage. Learning to let go of the anger and resentment that held you back from healing. Accepting that there was trauma in the first place. And that maybe, you had a small part in it too. And finally, allowing yourself to heal.
Writing my book has been that for me. I’ve gone through all the emotions in the past month. The book became an obsession because I poured much of myself into it.
The book also made me face some pretty hard facts about my own trauma and past with emotional abuse. It made me own up to the fact that I still had anger towards the way my mother raised me. I grew up in a toxic household and learned not to talk about feelings because that’s how my parents were.
I think in order to forgive, the most important part of the process is accepting that there is some kind of trauma or pain that you need to forgive. Once you figure that part out, the rest I find, comes easily.
When my mother died, I let go of the resentment I had for our relationship. We grew close towards the end. But the abuse I put up with for years, caused a lot of emotional damage that I’m still healing from.
It’s not like she actually beat me, I didn’t have black eyes or bruises like some children live with. But she had a mean streak, one she inherited from her father. The same father that left a belt hanging by the door as a reminder of what was in store for her if she came home one minute past curfew.
Or he’d lock her out all night – forcing her to find accommodation with my dad’s family at such a young age.
For my family – it was the cycle of abuse that continued. One that I was determined to break myself, but found that I inherited all these toxic traits too.
My mother was quick with her tongue. Backhanded compliments were her thing to make her words hurt. “I like your hair, but it makes your face look fat.” Or “I like that top, but you look big in it.”
My grandfather also hated the weight that I gained as a teen. “You’re getting so fat,” he’d say to me. Then he’d turn to my mother. “Can’t you do something about it? You’re not the greatest role model here either.”
Thinking back to those younger years, my mother was over protective. I couldn’t make any of my own choices. She did my hair up until I was about twelve years old and finally begged her to let me get it cut. The pony tails were causing headaches and it was too heavy.
Even the act of washing my hair was humiliating. Leaving me on display, lying on top of the counter for the family to see. While I don’t think she meant it to be humiliating, the older I got – the more humiliating it was.
Same went for my wardrobe, until I finally got to high school and she fell ill. She let me choose my own clothes.
I realize now, that it was this over protectiveness that led me to the lifestyle I found in my younger years. The desire to be controlled by another, because it was all I had known for so many years. And then I when I turned eighteen, I went wild.
The physical abuse didn’t happen much, but it did, nonetheless. A tap on my shoulder with a hair brush as she forced my hair into curlers every night. A smack because I didn’t answer her fast enough when quizzing me about spelling or multiplications.
One morning though, we had a fight. She was screaming at me so loud that her face turned red. I don’t even remember what the fight was about. She refused to listen. I said, “Mom, you’re being a bitch. Just let me talk.”
She walked up to me, threw her hot tea on my face, and slapped me hard across the face. I went to school like that. With tears down my face, a bruise on my cheek, and tea stains on my shirt.
Then there were my siblings that were assholes growing up. Locking me in the basement so they could have parties or watch adult movies. Feeding me booze at eleven to keep me quiet about the parties. Until I got pretty good at blackmail and had become all too familiar with booze at thirteen. I suppose it’s why I don’t drink a lot now.
And because the cycle of abuse was all I had known, I found myself attracted to the alpha male types who were the same way. Controlling. But not in the good way. Not in the kind of way that I wanted to be controlled or taken care of is a better term. But controlling in an isolating way that made them feel better about themselves.
But towards the end of our relationship, we grew close. She opened up to me about her relationship with her own father. And I understood. It wasn’t that she meant to be hard on me – it was just how she was raised. It was what she had known. Having lost her mother at a young age, it traumatized her too.
And so, now. This chapter of my life is focusing on healing. Accepting the trauma I’ve lived through. Acknowledging that my past relationships were partially my fault. Letting go of anger and outmoted feelings that no longer serve a purpose in my life.
But more than ever, it’s time to grieve for that trauma. And it’s time to heal.
A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down, and a time to build.