Publishing for a Change, LLC presents Gail Dickert, author of #RecoveryInRealTime as shares more about the writing process behind her "Anti-workbook" for surviving multiple traumas.
For over two decades I heard messages about forgiveness, as part of the "essential" path for survivors. My earliest memory of it is when I was about 9 years old, discussing my father's addictions with the "alateen" group leader. But only a few years later, when I was disclosing to my youth minister's wife that my neighbor was touching me, she told me that I could be an example to my neighbor. I could "ask for forgiveness" as I extend forgiveness to him… it didn't really matter that he was 5 years older than me and I wasn't attracted to him or interested in um... being molested by a brother-figure!
Before graduation from high school, another teacher suggested that if I forgave the young man who “scared me” when he assaulted me during a “date gone bad,” I wouldn’t be afraid of young men anymore.
Then there was conversion therapy… if I forgave the men in my life and the women "who allowed men to hurt me," they said I would not be attracted to women.
So – I have some thoughts about forgiveness.
I have no doubt that the intention of forgiveness is valuable - the psychological or spiritual releasing of our abusers from their place of power in our lives is useful, but when forgiveness has been a tool of denial, we need to recognize that it is not always in our best interest to forgive.
Sometimes we need to hold on to the awareness of what happened.
Sometimes we need to grab the truth with both hands and refuse to let it go, especially if the letting go is so others can be more comfortable, not us.
Sometimes forgiveness is a mask for the reality of our trauma.
Today, I share hashtag #16 - #ForgivenessAsDenial, as a way of reminding us all that even forgiveness is not a one-time event, but also a cyclical experience.
I forgave my neighbor – but after hours of nightmares about him just last night, I will probably need to forgive him again.
I forgave my dad – but after a rough Father’s Day of memories and grief, I will probaby need to forgive him again.
I forgave the young man who assaulted me on a date – but after reading an article about date rape, I will probably need to forgive him again.
I forgave my youth ministers and conversion therapists… but that trauma still stings and forgiveness often feels like denial so who knows when I’ll say I “forgave” them all.
Forgive if you choose, but not as a means of minimizing what happened to you. Forgiveness as censorship is not forgiveness, but oppression of your grief process.
Brave readers, keep sharing. I’m here with you. #RecoveryInRealTime happens today.