Wow! Just the thought of the title of this post makes me so emotional. You can imagine how much work you have to do in order to reach a place where you decide to forgive those who have hurt you in the worst possible way. But what do you gain from holding on to anger, bitterness and unforgiveness? Absolutely nothing.
I won’t go through the details of my story again (I wrote about it here), but I just want to briefly talk about how I got to a place where I was able to forgive. This may seem crazy to some people, and others won’t even understand no matter how much explaining I do. And that is fine. We’re all on our different journeys.
Initially, after the rape happened, I was in denial. It was as if I was dreaming and I kept hoping that I’d eventually wake up from the nightmare. The denial turned into anger. I was angry at everything and everyone – especially God. I mean, how could He let this happen to me? Where was He when I needed Him the most? Also, I had to ask this question: why me? What had I done to deserve such trauma? I still don’t have the answers to some of these questions, and that, for now, is okay.
After the anger came confusion, paranoia and eventually depression. I isolated myself from so many people as I felt that they had no idea what I was going through, and that they’d never understand. It was one of the darkest times of my life and I would honestly never wish it on anyone.
The beginning of healing
Fast forward to 2017 and my mission was healing. As I mentioned in my previous post, healing comes in waves. Some days you’re up, and other days you’re down. I think the best way to approach healing is to be very intentional about it. For me, there was no other way around it. I had to face what was killing me inside and I was prepared to do whatever was required to get there. What I didn’t know, however, was the fact that this healing that I was asking for, would also require me to forgive. Imagine that! Now you’re telling me that I must let go of all the negative feelings I have towards this person?
“How do I just let him off the hook? Surely, he has to pay for what he did to me!” Those are just some of the thoughts that would come to my mind. You see, at that time, I honestly had the wrong idea about forgiveness. I always thought that forgiving someone meant that you’re letting them off the hook, you’re letting them get away with what they did. But this, I have learned, is not true. Forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person. It is all about you. You are basically freeing yourself.
Forgiveness is not about the other person
What they did to you was wrong, yes. No one deserves to be hurt, abused or violated in any way. Despite the fact that I was violated by this person, I just came to a point where my sanity and healing was more important than anger. Holding on to anger was not going to make the healing process any faster. In fact, it would have just prolonged it.
So, to cut a long story short, I think forgiveness is a very important part of healing. I know that you can’t just wake up one day and decide that you’ve forgiven everyone who has caused you pain. It takes a lot of time to get there. But the sooner you realise that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person, and that it really is all about freeing yourself, the better. I’m not saying this because it sounds “profound” or “woke”, I’m saying it because I truly believe in the power of forgiveness.
Do I still have “why me” questions? Sometimes. Am I angry at the person who raped me? Absolutely not. I have nothing to gain from carrying anger towards him. Yes, he could have killed me. And yes, I will probably never forget what he did to me. My life was forever changed on that day. However, my only goal right now is to be healthy (mentally, emotionally and spiritually) and at peace.