A few nights ago I had a horrific dream. It was a role reversal and in it I was the abuser abusing a child. The emotion was incredibly intense....the abuse it self was a blur, but how I felt after woke me with a start, gasping that it was just a dream, and it will forever haunt me, that feeling of utter sorrow and hopelessness that there was no forgiveness for what I had done and how I had irrevocably changed and harmed a life. The feelings so deep and so dark that I anguished that my abuser could be feeling this way, and after laying in bed for half an hour trying to calm down I had to get up and write and email to him as I couldn't remember if I had told him that I forgave him for the hell he put me through, for the acts of molestation, the humiliation, and then the emotional and physical abuse that followed until I left home.
I was wrong....he did not feel how my dream made me feel.
I thought that I had overcome everything I endured at his hand in the 15 years since I had moved away from home.
It confirmed something though.....I am a much stronger person than I was then.
I started simply:
I don't know if I said this to you before, and I need to make sure that you know that I forgive you for what you did to me.
A barrage of attacks followed. My first reaction was anger and I was ready to write him off, but my dear sweet husband talked to me, calmed me, lead me to see that there was a gentler approach, and it would allow me to be in control, in control of myself, which in the abusive situation I never had, it was always reaction and never response.
He tried to push blame on me, but through years of soul searching, and counsel from religious leaders and experts in the field, and friends who have gone through similar things....I KNEW there was no blame for this abuse on me....there is NOTHING in this world that a nine year old girl can do to deserve what this sixteen year old boy did to me....and the other abuse that followed while I had to continue to live with my abuser until I reached adulthood.
I tried to explain to him, that he can't know how what he did hurt me, and how it effected me for the rest of my life. I let him know that I was sorry if I said hurtful things to him because of what he did to me, but I also let him know that I WOULD NOT BE HIS VICTIM ANY MORE, I WILL NOT LET HIM ASSERT DOMINION OVER ME AND I WILL NOT OWN RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS ACTIONS.
I tried to respond with sensitivity over four separate attempts to attack me , I had offered peace, but his intent was war. In the end I told him....I offered forgiveness, it is yours to accept or not.
He did not accept, he said good bye and good riddance. His choice, not mine.
I am reminded of something a friend explained to me, words that give me peace now:
It is found in the 18th chapter of Matthew:
6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 ¶ Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell afire.
10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
It is hard to know that I went out on a limb and offered healing, only to be thrown out of the tree and left bleeding, knowing he truly doesn't understand the impact he had on my life, the hurt and helplessness he caused me to feel. It hurts to "cut off the arm" and live with the scars the rest of my life, but knowing I can't move on while I am holding on to that.
I am strong.
I have played my role.
I have left an open door.
He has closed it....and the handle is only on his side.
I am moving beyond this darkness.