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Friday, May 6, 2011

Could You Forgive Your Rapist?

Let the rain come...

I often think poetically. I'll watch the rain come in over the lake and I can close my eyes and just see it wash right over me. And carry off all my pain and sorrow. I see rain almost like the personification of forgiveness...When I asked the Lord forgiveness of my sins, that is exactly how I felt. Like a torrent of cleansing rain just washed right over was almost physical in it's intensity.

Forgiveness is a hard one for me. It's hard. Fellow blogger Sunny at Sunny Sings The Blues has recently been posting a series on forgiveness and frankly it has been really hard for me to read. Not because it was bad...oh no, far from it. It is because so much of it is true and hit's very close to home for me.

As long as I have been in recovery from alcoholism/addiction, I have had to deal with the guilt and responsibility for my actions during my drinking and drugging days. I made a lot of mistakes. I hurt a lot of people, pretty much every single person who ever cared about me at one time or another. And I hurt some of them to the point that I figured they would never forgive me or have anything to do with me again, sober or not.

So I have always been on that end of things. I was the one who was wrong, who screwed up and needed forgiveness. Even though I'm not really posting about this today, I will say that in almost five years sober I have been able to make amends to most of those folks. And by my continued sobriety and honest attempts at reconciliation, have re-built most of those relationships I had once destroyed. But as I was starting to mention, I really hadn't any real experience with the other side of forgiveness, nor was I sure that I really wanted to...

I have mentioned before here in Shell Shock Serenade that as a young, pre-teen aged boy I was sexually assaulted by three grown men..Yea, I was raped. There isn't any real soft or less intense way of saying it. pretty much means one thing and I think we are all horrified by the specter of what that word represents.

I have recovered and healed in a lot of different ways after many years of repressing the memory of what had happened to me on that day. I have been able to talk about it, work through some of the anger and begin the healing process. As I have learned to live a more spiritual life in recovery, that too has helped me put the events of that day in a more proper perspective. But no's still rape...and it still really hurts to the very core of one's soul.

Now I know that what happened to me was NOT my fault. Though I still have nightmares sometimes and can feel really weird about things, my life is really pretty good. I also realize now that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that intensified what I was trying to deal with. Knowing now that I suffer from PTSD has helped me understand what went on with me all those years and helps me focus today on recovering and healing from Rape as well as Addiction. But the one thing I have not been able to even get remotely close to doing is forgive the animals that did this to me.

I don't know why but the subject of forgiveness has always hovered over me like I somehow owe it to those bastards. I don't know why I even think about it but I do. It's like I can't help myself. Most of my therapists have down played this "need" I seem to sub-consciously have to forgive, saying if it happens then it happens. They reassure me that I don't really have to forgive them to heal. But deep down it seems to me like I do...and I don't f**king want to forgive them!

So I have lived in this haunted limbo between anger/hate and forgiveness for some time now and the one thing that I do know with certainty is I CANNOT STAY HERE! I have to move in one direction or the other because it is eating me alive. And came from that place and it's no picnic either, let me tell you!

Basically what I have done lately is tucked that dilemma as far away as I can in my sub-conscious and hope/pray nothing disturbs it because I don't want to deal with it. Not a very healthy way to go about it, I confess but I don't know what else to do. I just don't feel prepared to venture down THAT road...the road to forgiveness. So I ignore the whole mess and basically my life moved rather pleasantly along the River Of Denial until I started reading Sunny's blog posts on Forgiveness! Gee thanks a lot, Sunny! (Just kidding of course)

I did realize that I couldn't run from that subject forever, that sooner or later it would have to be dealt with. But how do you even start to deal with something like this? I suppose there is never a "good" time to start. So you just put one foot in front of the other and begin to move forward if you can. But how? How do I even begin to think about such a thing as forgiveness when it wasn't all that long ago that I daily wished those three men dead.
My only thought is to turn my face towards God. Because on my own I will NOT be able to handle this.I can also turn to some of my friends. Though it is an awkward subject to talk about, especially with my friends who are men, they do care about me. And they want me to find some solace and some peace from this nightmare that has been tormenting me now for over 35 years.
So I sit here this evening and ponder this road that stretches out in front of me. The prospect of "going there" with this is a frightening one but deep down I know that it is a journey that must be taken. I don't think I will ever be completely at peace if I harbor that kind of hate and anger in my heart. It's just that at this particular moment I can't picture me letting go of it all. I cannot picture me feeling forgiveness. Something inside of me will have to change drastically...and I know that I am not capable of making that change on my own. Merely thinking about this right now terrifies is going to be a long, hard journey home.


  1. WOW! "many years of repressing the memory of what had happened to me on that day" Says it all...and you are definitely NOT alone on that one...I don't think we have to actually get 'in their face' and tell them we forgive them, but in our own heart, for our own personal healing...we have to find a way to forgive them. No easy feat for certain. But a worthwhile one for our own personal growth & healing. Excellent post! One I am certain was not easy to write. (((Hugs)))

  2. You are doing so well! Focus on forgiving for you, not for them. Its like the saying about taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness is letting go of the poison. Thats all. It's not excusing what those people did to you..its just letting go the anger over what might have been. Letting go of the crazy driving "what ifs." It's a process. Never easy, but worth investing in nonetheless. It's an investment in your life. You deserve it. Life is good. Free yourself so you can enjoy it. Breathe. You are still here for a reason. Forgiveness will help you find it.

  3. Mitzi, Thank you for your comments, it is always comforting to know that we aren't alone in this endeavor. I believe you are right in that we need to find a way to forgive.

    It's funny..on one hand it isn't easy to write a posts such as this yet I am now at a place in my healing and recovery that it almost comes out on it's own. I've also developed this detached way of talking about it as if I'm speaking about someone else! Not sure if that form of self-protection is actually healthy or not but it allows me to be open and share these difficult details.

    Thank you again for your kind words...

  4. Sunny, Yes of course your right in that we do this for ourselves. I had another comment on my Facebook link that suggested that too and I responded that I know that in my head but something down deeps wants to hold onto to that anger. As if that will "make them pay". I am not ashamed that I want revenge, I want them to pay, to hurt, to question their man hood for 30 plus years. But then I realize that everyone of those men could have died years ago and I'm still holding onto this bag of MANURE (Thank U for that!) and it's really starting to stink!

    It is a process..I know myself well enough to realize that if I'm posting about this on Shell Shock, something is happening inside, changes are under way and they will be positive.

    I don't want to appear to be acting the Martyr...but I do feel strongly about the need to RIP the fucking door off this closet of silence that surrounds so many of us who have suffered from this type of Trauma...and so I share the struggle along the way.

    Thank you for your help in instigating this latest bit of forward movement in the journey towards forgiveness!

  5. I think you will do well in the process. I know it won't be easy. I don't know what or how I would even start - but I can clearly tell you have taken that first step...amazing. And having God along will definitely help - he changes things. He opens us up and makes it rain clean water inside of us to wipe out all of the darkness. Good luck my friend!