Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.
If someone is continuously harming you, and refuses to stop, should they be forgiven? This is a question that I hope you will try answer at the end of this post.
My dad is a convicted serial killer. He killed 4 people and told me about the crimes with great pride. He used me, his favorite son, to help him destroy evidence when he felt that I might be a risk. He made me a part of this so that I would not go to police. He abused my mom, and brothers and sisters.
This is not the place to try to make one experience with a sociopath out to be any worse than another, they all bring about the same feelings of shame, guilt and often times depression. The question really is…”what do we do with these experiences?”
As far as I can tell, based on my own experience, is that we have only two choices. We can let go through forgiveness and find freedom that we never imagined possible turning this nightmare into a net gain that becomes a gift, or we can resist the lesson and continue to punish ourselves for the rest of our lives.
This is The Choice.
How does it make you feel when you think of the pain that was caused by your experience with a sociopath? Take a few minutes to look within yourself and be honest about how it makes you feel to think about the events that happened to you as a result of your encounter with a sociopath.
If you feel sick, sad, guilty, or regret the past, ask yourself who is harming you with these thoughts and feelings right now. If the sociopath is not in your life at this time and you are still feeling this pain, where is it coming from and why is it still there? Finally, if you still feel this way, are you not continuing to give the sociopath the power to control your life and poison existing relationships?
These are tough questions and the answers did not come easy for me. As long as I was not willing to let go of the past, I continued to suffer. As a result, I had paralyzing migraine headaches, chronic back pain, nightmares, irritable bowel syndrome and other illnesses that plagued me as a young adult long after my father went to prison.
I “thought” he didn’t deserve forgiveness. In fact, I was sure of it. That is because I did not know what forgiveness is. What I did not realize was that it was not him that I was hurting, but me.
Once again, forgiveness really has very little to do with the other person. It does not condone the behavior, release them from their responsibilities or say It’s OK to harm people. What forgiveness really does is release us from an emotional prison that we have created for ourselves. We hold the key and don’t even know it; because “we think” forgiveness tells the perpetrator that what they did is OK. Forgiveness is only accepting what already is and what cannot be changed.
There is A Miracle that awaits us when we do this and it changes everything. Our perspective changes, our outlook upon life improves, and happiness is restored.
Why are so many of us so unwilling to let go of the past? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know this, a simple willingness is all that’s needed to make The Miracle possible. God will show you the way if you ask for His help with a sincere willingness to be free of the past.
Part of the Miracle is that when we let go of the past, we stop repeating it. Freedom has all kinds of rewards and the end result is gratitude for the experience because of what it really offered. Listen to those that have found their freedom from forgiving others (and themselves) and you will see this Truth.
Today, The Miracle for me is that I have learned The Truth about suffering. The only thing that has the power to harm me now is my thoughts. This is where all suffering comes from. Freedom from this comes from letting go of the past.
I have none of those physical and emotional illnesses today. The one thing that changed everything for me was a decision to learn about and pursue forgiveness. I first had to accept that I knew nothing about what forgiveness really meant.
This helped me to learn a little bit about exactly who was hurting me and why. If I cannot forgive him for hurting me, then how can I forgive myself for continuing to hurt myself with the experience long after it happened? I have forgiven myself, but I needed to see the benefits first, trust the process, and forgive my father to be able to do it.
My dad is still on death row and is no threat to me or my family. He cannot harm me anymore. When I forgave my father, all I really said was “you can’t hurt me anymore.”
As for me? I still have do work daily to keep from hurting myself with negative thoughts, but at least I am aware of who is really doing the hurting now and know what to do about it. Awareness is a great spiritual gift. I have found much of heaven and am grateful.
I will continue to write weekly here, but for those that are interested and willing to go more deeply into the process of letting go, please join A Course In Forgiving (begins January 19, 2012). I did not come here to promote The Course, but to offer it to those that feel moved to do something more about the pain in their lives.
There is no fee of (optional donation of up to $25.00) for the six week online course. This Course is designed to guide participants through the Step by Step Spiritual Process of Letting Go with weekly lessons, readings and exercises that are intended to open the pathway to healing and Peace.
If interested, please visit www.victorythroughpeace.com and click the link in the left hand column titled “Six Week Course Online”. For those that participate, I will be available by phone and email to share experience in addition to this weekly blog on Lovefraud.