I’m writing mostly about forgiveness today, and the Scripture passage on which I’m basing what I have to say comes from Matthew 18,
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” ~ Matthew 18:21-22, NLT.
Following is a post from the old blog that Google shut down. It was originally written in November of 2011, but considering that I still struggle in this area, it seems appropriate to repost it here. In doing so, hopefully I’ll gain new insight, plus McT will read it, and we’ll be able to discuss it when I see him next.
November 26, 2011
I recently had a new abuse memory of something my father did to me when I was little, at what age I’m not sure ~ it probably happened more than once. It surfaced completely unbidden one Sunday morning recently. I was taking a shower as I was getting ready for church, and I was wondering why taking showers is still so difficult for me, even though I’ve remembered what he did to me in the shower when I was two. It just seems like it shouldn’t be so hard for me if I’ve already remembered everything I need to know.
As I was thinking about that I started seeing these pictures in my mind of my father making me take showers with other men besides himself, and making me do bad things with them. It was like I was a baby prostitute, at least partly because I could see money exchanging hands as well. As the pictures came surging into my consciousness and I began to understand the gravity of what he had done to me, I started to feel nauseated, and I began to cry.
I was in shock. My feelings were a confused jumble of sadness, betrayal, rage, and pain. I hated my father, and I felt incredible shame that he had used me in this way. I had always thought that the only time my father used me with other men was during the gang rape when I was three. This new memory showed me that I was tragically and horribly wrong. All I could think of was, how could he treat me like that?!? Children are a gift! A GIFT!! He treated me like trash, and so did his friends. I felt unimaginable grief for the little girl that I was, knowing that I’d been treated in such an unspeakably horrible way.
Now that the memory has surfaced, I have to work at forgiving Harry, as well as the men he forced on me. The idea makes me mad because I didn’t deserve what they did to me, but God loves my father just as much as He loves me, regardless of his behavior towards me.
In addition, forgiveness in the Bible isn’t a suggestion, it’s a commandment. God says that if we don’t forgive those who sin against us, He won’t forgive us when we ask Him for it. It says in Matthew 6,
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NLT.
Aside from all that, on a purely personal and practical basis, holding unforgiveness against someone is bad for your health. Studies have shown that when you hold unforgiveness against another person, over time bitterness builds up and it can actually make you physically ill. I know this to be true from hard personal experience.
Additionally, forgiveness is solely for the benefit of the person doing the forgiving ~ in this case, me. It doesn’t in any way excuse the perpetrator, or say that what they did is now okay because you’re forgiving them.
With all of that said, I’ve come to realize that I still have areas of unforgiveness against my mom, mostly because she never protected me from Harry’s rage and abuse. During all the years when I was being beaten, raped, belittled, berated, denigrated, disparaged, and derogated, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, and told by my father everytime he did all this terrible crap to me, that he had to do it because God hated me, and that I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face, not once did my mother stand up for me, or try to stop my father, or in any way try to protect me.
I’ve told her about what he did to me, and her response has always been that she saw bruises, and that if she had known it was sexual abuse the divorce would have happened a lot sooner than it did. The problem with that is that children die all the time from being physically abused, so her saying that to me means nothing. Plus, she abused me as well. I’ve remembered a number of times when I was an infant where my mother tried to kill me. She would try to drown me in the bathtub or suffocate me with a pillow, so one of my alters, Deadsally, would come out and make me stop squirming so my mother would think she’d succeeded and stop trying. I’ve also had at least one memory of her abusing me sexually as well.
It’s always been easier for me to forgive my mother because I’m just about positive that she’s multiple. I’d be very surprised if she actually remembered any incidents of abuse if I confronted her with them. I realize that her negations could just as easily be her attempt to remain in denial, but I’m also fairly positive that she was abused when she was a child, even though she says she wasn’t.
Another reason I think Mom is multiple is because as far back as I can remember, she would forget where she put things like her keys just minutes after she’d laid them down. And then she’d say things like, “Gremlins hid my keys, where are my keys?” Or she’d accuse my sister or me of hiding them to trick her. She was constantly putting things down, and then minutes later she wouldn’t be able to find them or remember where they were.
So the upshot of it all is that I have more forgiving to do than I had originally thought. It’s not something that I dread doing, or that will be impossible to manage, or anything like that. The Bible says that with God all things are possible, and that’s certainly true in this case. I’ve already forgiven both Mom and Harry for so many other things. This is just more of the same, and I’ll be able to do it with God’s help.
Sometimes I wonder, though. Will it ever end? Will the time ever come when I have nothing left to remember and nothing left to forgive them for?