Forgiveness Isn't Required

TW/CN: domestic violence, r*pe, victim blaming, brief descriptions of abuse

Note: posts linked below open in new tabs

I use to say I forgave my abuser. I forgave him, I understood him. I was so understanding of his pain I forgot about the pain he caused. In fact I even wrote a post about it when I started this blog.

I was once told that not forgiving someone, not “letting go” is like walking around with a hook in your body. You’ll keep pulling, trying to walk away, but ultimately you’ll be tethered to that hook forever. Unless you forgive wherein then the hook would release you. That very much sounds like victim blaming. Why should the onus be on the abused to forgive? Maybe we should focus on abusers and get them not to be abusive. We’re very quick to want to forgive abusers, but we somehow forget that compassion when it comes to victims. We want to know why they stayed, why they kept going back, why they haven’t “moved on”, “let go”.

“Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive”
I have to say, that’s a lot of bullshit. No one should be expected to forgive someone who beat, raped, tormented and basically made life a living hell. Forgiveness is not required nor should be mandated. My abuser does not have a right to my forgiveness. He hurt me in every way and forgiving him? That would just let him off the hook. That damned hook.

I think one of the reasons I’ve stopped thinking I forgive him is because I’ve realized that he raped me. When I finally left him I had a very hard time admitting I was a victim of domestic Violence. I tried to downplay the abuse. I wasn’t with him for as long as the other women in the support group had been with their abusers. He never beat me to the point where I needed to go to the hospital. In fact he very rarely left marks on me. I was in pain but he knew how to inflict the physical damage.
When I was with him I didn’t know about reproductive coercion.

I still deal with the pain he caused. PTSD is horrible. How then am I supposed to forgive that?

Forgiveness culture is just another way to keep victims/survivors in line. It’s just another part of rape culture. It’s just another part of “boys will be boys”.

I’d like now, to quote a few lines from the first post linked above and explain how utter shit my thinking was back then.

“After being with him I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s still hard, because he’s T Jr’s father. But at the end of the day she’s better off without that type of person in her life. I’m better off as well. We deserve better. I’ve realized none of what happened was my fault. And all I can do now is try to pick up the pieces and raise T Jr as best I can, taking the lessons I’ve learned and turning them to good use for her.”

This still holds true. I’ve picked up the pieces, as it were, and I’ve tried to move on. I’ve had relationships with other men, those didn’t work out but they weren’t abusive. I’ve learned to spot red flags in potential partners and friends.

“I can’t hold on to the hate, resentments, regrets, or what if’s. If I do I feel I’d be consumed by it all. I want to stable in all ways for myself and T Jr. I can’t possibly be a good parent and role model if T Jr sees her mommy is full of hate.”

You know what? After what he did, he deserves nothing but my hate and resentment. There aren’t any “what if’s” about our relationship. The only regret I have is being with him. In the years since I wrote that forgiveness post I’ve come to appreciate my feelings towards him. It’s a righteous and justified anger. I have been a good parent to TJ despite our circumstances. My anger towards him drives me to be the best I can be, because she needs a good parent.

“All I can wish for Jekyll is that he gets the help he needs to work through his problems.”

I would still like him to get help, if he hasn’t already, which I doubt very much. “Through his problems” is a very nice euphemism for misogyny.

“We haven’t seen or heard from him in over a year. All I can wish is that if he ever does get the help he needs, he can one day be reunited with his daughter. That’ll only happen when and only when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he isn’t the man I once knew.”

It’s been four years now. I no longer wish him reunification with my daughter. I do not want him anywhere near us. There is just no way that I could ever trust him.

“Unfortunately I don’t see that happening. In the mean time, T Jr will have love and support to spare. And I’ll still be working towards getting better at forgiving and healing.”

I still don’t see it happening. In the meantime TJ has had love and support to spare. I’m working on being the best person I can be. I have gotten better at forgiving and healing because I’ve learned who is worthy of it and who isn’t. He isn’t.

“All I can say to Jekyll is, ‘I forgive you. And as I heal, I hope you heal as well.’

I don’t think I’ll ever heal fully. Some days are better than others but I still bare the emotional scars.
All I can say to Jekyll is, I hope you always have an itch you can’t quite reach. I hope your videos always get stuck at 99% buffering. I hope you always lose a sock from your laundry. I hope your jelly always comes off the sides of your sandwich. I hope that just when you’re drifting off to sleep a mosquito buzzes in your ear.
Most of all, I hope one day you feel at least just a tenth of what you put us through.

Edited to add: I would also tell him “Thank you.”  I hate to use a cliché, but I think of the experiences with him as a “blessing in disguise”. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wouldn’t have been for the shit he put me through. I wouldn’t be as vocal a feminist if it wasn’t for him. Funny,  how in trying to mold me into being a perfect little housewife/mother/slave he created (an even more outspoken than I ever was before) feminist.


Oh for fuck’s sake. I was so focused on being a good victim that I preferred to push away and downplay everything he did and thank him? I didn’t need the abuse he put me through to become who I am today. I was so focused on “moving on” that I decided to ascribe whatever positive spin I could to my relationship with him.

Forgiving someone who has hurt you is often touted as strength; as being the bigger person. I think I’m pretty strong because I’ve managed to survive all this shit. Forgiving him has not been needed.

Advertisements

Depression vs Art

I’d like to consider myself a bit of a visual artist but these past ten years with depression have almost completely sapped whatever ability I had. I think I’ve made about five drawings in ten years. When I do create something I’m told I’m talented. But I just cannot seem to keep the inspiration or even the motivation going.

You hear a lot about how mental illness contributed in some way to an artist’s work; that they channeled their pain into their art. Whether that art be music, painting, writing etc, the point is they channeled it to mean something. My depression just spirals and loops back into itself and all I ever get out of it is more pain.

Which then makes me feel even shittier for not “depression-ing” right. Which I know is ridiculous, I know it’s just depression shenanigans and troll brain talking. I know it all rationally, but I still cannot shake the feeling that I’m a failure at depression. Isn’t that sad?

Lately, I’ve had a few ideas for a drawing and I can see it in my mind’s eye, but when I try to actually make it happen I draw a blank. (At least I’m punny?)

That’s what hurts the most sometimes. I know I have some talent at least. I know that I can make something beautiful but depression is always there just waiting to tell me, that no actually I can’t.

I remember having a pastel charcoals set when I was little. I used up the sketch pad rather quickly. I loved just sitting on the porch and drawing whatever came to mind, blending colors and getting my fingers covered in multi-colored dust. Sometimes I think maybe I can do that again, sit somewhere quiet, armed with a sketch pad and pencil and just draw what comes to me. But the fear is there; taunting me. Waiting for the first pencil stroke to land on the page, so the depression can start its bullying: why bother?, nobody will like it. You aren’t any good.

Why can’t I just ignore that, especially when I know that what my depression is saying isn’t true? It’s a never ending battle.

Trying to Raise a Socially Conscious Child

The sex talk is not the hardest talk I’ve had so far with my kid. That conversation has been the easiest, actually. Everything was straight forward and easily explained.

Explaining poverty, racism and sexism along with other types of oppression is way tougher. How do you explain to your child who  is five years old and falls on several axes of oppression about the oppression they will face? Oppression they are facing right now?

Recently, my kid and I were reading a book about different types of dwellings around the world. One picture showed favelas in Brazil. Another showed a house made of scrap in India. My daughter noticed these houses weren’t as nice as some of the other pictures; like the farm house in France. When I explained a bit about poverty, she asked why those people were poor.
If I start explaining poverty, I have to explain all different forms of oppression. She asked why we live in a shelter; that would lead into a conversation about domestic violence, rape and systemic oppression. This is just focusing on the USA. If I expanded the conversation to include Brazil or India, then we get into colonialism and how capitalism needs poverty in order to thrive.

Another time we were playing an online doll dress up game and I made my doll Black. She said the doll was ugly. I asked why she thought so. She couldn’t articulate why. This is why it’s so important for diversity in children’s toys and media. She’s already getting the message that Black equals ugly/bad.

I explained why what she said was hurtful. I told her, in age-appropriate terms, about racism and how racism kills. I reminded her of a conversation we had about a month before:

In her kindergarten class, she was taught about MLK Jr. I doubt they went into much detail, other than him “having a dream”. We were in a store once, and she saw a special edition magazine about the 60’s. She recognized his picture, so she flipped through the magazine and saw that picture of him lying dead in the balcony of that hotel. She asked what happened to him. I once again explained in age-appropriate terms. She seemed to get it and apologized.

At school, she’s dealing with a bully who used ableist and misogynistic slurs against her. I explained to her what those words meant. This kid is a few years older, he obviously has no idea what those words mean but he knows that they’re used to hurt women and disabled folks. He knows they have power.
The school seems to be laying the responsibility of not being bullied on my daughter. Which once again takes me back to the conversation of systemic oppression. She’s a girl, she’s a POC (person of color), she’s of low socio-economic status; the school most certainly won’t take her seriously.

This is all heartbreaking and defeating. She’s seen so much already and I cannot shield her forever. These are ongoing conversations, that will have to be added to as she gets older and better able to understand.

Even as the sex talk gets expanded it will never be as difficult as every other conversation will be. I was lied to. The sex talk is a breeze.

We Will Light the Way With the Bridges We Burn!

My blog will be joining Burning Bridges. Please consider donating and/or sharing! We need all the help we can get. Thank you

Alex and Ania Splain You a Thing

Ania Cartoon Hugging a Spoon

 

It is with great excitement and eagerness that I would like to announce that Alex and Ania Splain You a Thing will be joining a new blog network!

For the last several months both Alex and I have belonged to a support group of women and non-binary folk. This is a group of people devoted to an intersectional pursuit of social justice. Our frequent discussions have led to the creation of several posts and other media.

Much of our group falls into different spheres of oppression, and like many in these spheres, a significant portion of us have also had difficulty maintaining gainful employment. For some, it is various disabilities that get in the way. For others, prejudice plays a role in minimizing the opportunities available in a struggling economy.

Determined to improve our situation, while also interested creating a space that would discuss different issues and dreaming of…

View original post 515 more words