I was sexually assaulted in high school. I didn’t know it was sexual assault at the time. I’d been drinking and wearing something a little too revealing. He was someone close to me. He was my good friend. I’d passed out after drinking one too many and I woke up with his hand up my shirt and, other times, I woke up with his hand down my pants. I felt icky and betrayed, but I didn’t have the confidence to know how to fight back. Another time, things got too far and I wanted to stop, but he didn’t feel the same way and he didn’t abide by my push back and push away. I felt defeated. I didn’t know what he did was wrong until years later because he was my dear friend and maybe I had worn the wrong thing or drank too much or said the wrong thing or led him on. I blamed myself. Now, I know better. & when we know better, we do better. He was at fault and what he did was wrong. & a few years ago, I told him so. It was hard. I forgive my assailant, but I will never forget it.
I was blamed for my mom’s schizophrenia. I remember my stepfather & I riding in his white truck with blue interior when he told me that this was my fault. We were dropping off the garbage down our mile long road. I remember his anger. I felt small and horrible. I carried it. It’s taken me years and years and years and years and I don’t think I will ever get over it. I struggle talking to him on the phone because I hate that he blamed little ole’ me for a big ole’ mental illness that is 100 percent genetic. He did not make me feel safe. He did not keep me safe. He told me that I had put her under too much pressure and that I had essentially made her ill. At the time, I believed him and carried that shame on my back for years. He was wrong. And even though he will not admit what he did and has told me I am full of shit for telling him what he did, I forgive him. He is ill and does not have much longer to live and I can’t carry this weight any longer. It has become too much to carry. He didn’t ask to be forgiven, but I have to forgive him to keep me sane and out of mental prison. I don’t like him, but wish him no ill will. It’s hard. I’m not over it. I’m working towards forgiveness, but I will never forget it.
I was maced and attacked. I busted my attacker’s ear drum with my loud voice & I got away, in heels while scaling a 6 foot gate to escape the danger. Flight or fight is real. I remember looking at the street lamp while this man grabbed my arms & I remember thinking of God when looking at the bright light and it was then I realized I had so much more to live for and it was not my time. I fought back and someone heard my screams and called the police. It was my first week of teaching 2nd grade & I remember thinking about those students not having a teacher and I remember calling my assailant a ‘mother fucker.’ I had to get back to those innocent children. He was squeezing both my arms so hard, but I knocked that mace out of his hand and my chest burned from it, but he had not sprayed my eyes or my face, thankfully. As I ran away, I saw another man in the corner of the parking lot and across the street, a get away car waited for me. I do not want to think about what they would have done to me. They never caught him. They were unsuccessful and I suffered from PTSD for weeks. My friend fetched a cold bowl of water and a wash cloth to help ease the burn, bless her heart, as tears streamed down her face. She had been with me right before the incident, but had run inside our apartment to fetch her keys. The second she had turned the corner, the scary man approached me. He must have been watching. Sam heard my scream, but didn’t know it was me who screamed, as she said it sounded nothing like me. It scared her and she stayed in our apartment with the door locked. I escaped. I slept in my best friend’s bed for a while until I got over the fear. I eventually learned to forgive. I have forgiven my attacker, but I will never forget it.
My mom, bless her heart, was not treated very well as a child by her mom. Her mom would pull her hair and spank her. There was a lot of guilt trips and shaming. Her mom wanted her to be a boy and when her brother came along, he was the golden child and he treated my mom very poorly. He would roller skate in the house creating marks all over the hard wood floors and then blame my mom for it and then she would get punished. Drew would go on the escalator with my mom & then hop off just before it was too late and make my mom ride to the top alone. & she would cry. & then he would laugh. My poor mom. My mom’s dad was a sweet hearted man. He would bring my mom baby bunnies & hide them in his pockets for her. She has fond memories of her father being a loving man. I never knew my mom’s dad & mom.
My mom repeated the cycle. I have memories of spankings out of anger, pinching out of feeling overwhelmed with my sister & I in the backseat fighting, & getting soap (the liquid kind) put in my mouth for saying the wrong thing, the wrong way, at the wrong time.
My mom & dad divorced when I was 2 and my sister was 7. My mom was a teacher full-time and did real estate on the side and she had no time for bullshit from us. My father was financially supportive, but my mom still busted her ass to provide for us. & mom didn’t have the tools to know any other way to discipline us. She did what her mom did to her. My mom did what she had to do to make it work for her. She did it alone and with two strong-willed girls. She did the very best she could with the toolbox she had. & we survived and turned out just fine.
She had boyfriends and would leave us with babysitters that were not qualified to be babysitters and take trips with them. Poor judgement. She did not keep us safe.
I got my warm heart from her. Mom suffers from schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and is a breast cancer survivor. She’s been through so much. She is caring and loving and can be nurturing when she wants to be. Her heart is in the right place. She paved the way for my teaching career and instilled in me a love for children.
I’m working to forgive my mom for all the spankings, pinching, and soap episodes. I’m certain that is why I have anxiety today. I forgive her for keeping me unsafe at home with too young of sitters. I forgive her for being selfish. I forgive her for talking negatively about my beloved father who is a beautiful man who stepped up when my mom was not able to care for me any longer. Pops didn’t deserve the nasty words. I forgive her for telling me I was going to rot in hell when she was ill and then later denying it was ever said. I forgive her for mocking me for going to therapy to heal. I forgive her for telling me I have a vivid imagination when I refer to the past. I forgive her for not being able to be my mother when she had to be admitted to a mental institution and turning into someone I barely recognize & then having to mourn the loss of the mother I once knew and loved. I forgive her for saying that homosexuals have something wrong with their souls and judging people who are not bible fundamentalists and that are different from her. I forgive her for voting for Trump and wondering why I didn’t do so, too. I forgive. I forgive. I forgive. Eventually, those words will be 100% true, but I am a work in progress.
I can’t unsee the things I have seen or heard, but I can take steps to forgive and know mom was doing her very best with the skill set & upbringing she was equipped with.
I forgive for me. And forgiving is not saying what she did was ok, but it is saying that I will no longer give my power away to those that have wronged me.
The truth is we are all human and we are all flawed and we all make mistakes and we have the power to forgive others and ourselves for the mistakes we make. If we could just drop our ego and abandon the stubbornness and our pride and just let that shit go. If we could just give people a break and give them the benefit of the doubt. We would be happier.
I choose as best I can & it is hard, to meet people where they are as best I can and to treat them with respect and kindness because that is how I would want to be treated, too.
Is there someone you need to forgive? I encourage you to take steps towards that forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about the other person, it is setting your soul free, it is taking the weight off of your shoulders and throwing it away, so you can make room for those that matter and live a happy life.