Forgiveness, Never Forget

by | Mar 7, 2023 | It's Complex...PTSD | 0 comments

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Forgiveness, Never Forget

forgiveness never forgetI wrote that line as part of a poem in the early 1990s. It was a line that sat all by itself. I looked at that line and thought about it for a long time. I had written that when I was still in the middle of being in an abusive home.

One of my abusers had left, and the other was still trying to destroy me to maintain the status quo of the family unit.

I wonder if I wrote that line all those years ago for the people who had abused me or for me. Do people who are abusers deserve to be forgiven? I don’t know the answer to that question. Part of me thinks that forgiveness is letting those people off the hook.

But there might be another person in this story I should forgive—myself.

Picking the Scabs

But at the same time, if you hold onto that anger and hatred, and hate those people like so many of us do, then we will never heal from the wounds they inflicted. So instead of allowing those wounds to heal, we continuously poke them, keeping them open and bleeding.

And the pain, once a dull throb, becomes sharp again, a constant reminder just beneath the surface. And the pain we keep just beneath the surface. It’s a scab that covers the wound, but we can’t leave it alone. You end up with a scar when you don’t allow the wound to heal.

Scars and Lies

And then you have to explain that scar. The expectant look people give you when you see your scar, waiting for a cool story. And you know what I do when someone asks about one of my self-inflicted scars? I lie.

I don’t tell people the truth about how I got any of those scars. For so long, I have told those false stories that I almost don’t remember the truth. Almost. That is not forgiveness. That is covering up the truth in hopes that no one will notice.

And here I sit, writing about truth, trauma, and resilience. And yet, I am not being truthful. Not really. Or perhaps it is best to write, not yet.

Forgive, and Remember

I am embarrassed to admit the paths I have gone down are not the best paths I could have taken. But isn’t that also my message? Or part of my message? It doesn’t matter what you have done before. Those things are part of your (my) journey. So let them into your (my) narrative.

I want to be out there with my story. All of it. The good, bad, ugly, the lies, the half-truths, the lies that became truth. How can I do that when I haven’t forgiven myself for what I have done? For the years wasted to the disease of alcoholism, and most of all, for being abusive to people I love.

I became a monster. It was all I knew. And I forgive myself.

forgive, never forget

Forgive Myself

But then I still wonder, do I need to forgive myself? To forgive myself for using the few tools I had to navigate the world as a child. Is that something to forgive myself? I don’t know. Maybe.

I forgive myself for using what I had before I knew there were new and improved tools.

Those old tools? They were rusty, didn’t work most of the time, and most likely would have killed me eventually. 

But I still used them. 

They were all I had. 

Thinking that I could change years of abuse by myself was a fool’s errand. I did not have the tools to heal myself. The psychological toll it takes to move through life like that is immense. Therapy is the best start for healing.

I recommend Online-Therapy.*

Check out some of my other writings about alcoholism and sobriety. “The Slow Descent to Sobriety” starts my December series about addiction and my journey with sobriety.  You can also check out my recent poetry,  What Happened to All of My Words??

* I receive compensation from Online-Therapy when you use my referral link. I only recommend products and services when I believe in them.

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