Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Setting the prisoner free

Its been a long time since I've written about the abusive relationship I was in during 2006. Many of my newer readers may not know anything about it, but it was bad. 8 months of hell. I suffered, my dog suffered, my entire family suffered and my close friends suffered. For those whole 8 months, we all suffered.

But I know I've suffered long since its been over. Its taken a long time to truly come to grips with what happened to me, how I was treated, the emotions I felt. Its taken a lot of therapy, several cocktails with good friends, lots of long talks, many hours of internal reflection, feats of anger, feats of strength, weakness, anger, fear, captivity, did I mention anger?

"Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them as much." -Oscar Wilde

As part of my therapy, I speak on behalf of other survivors for Safehome. I've spoken to church groups, criminals, advocates, children, my Rotary Club. Most recently I spoke to a Family and Personal Relationships class at Olathe Northwest High School. Its been over 4 years since I left and I'm just now getting to the point where things aren't so raw.

After speaking and not being engulfed by the emotions, I started to think... Am I getting over this? Am I really as healed as I always wanted to be? I always imagined I'd be held captive by this horrible experience. That it would always define who I was. But now, I can say differently. I've never been so happy as I am right now. So many things in my life are going right, and I don't feel the weight of the world on my shoulders like I used to.

What happened!? Why is it "suddenly" so much easier? Well, first of all - it wasn't sudden. Its been growing for some time now, and I've just grown sick of caring so much about how he made me feel, how he affected my life. And then I realized, he's still had the power and control over me that he worked so desperately for while we were together. I realized I've still been his prisoner. My anger towards him never affected him in the slightest, but it did make a major impact on me.

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize the prisoner was you." -Lewis B. Smedes

I had been afraid to forgive him. I was worried that if I truly forgave him, I'd be saying that what he did to me was OK. I never wanted to give him that satisfaction. In speaking with a trusted advisor and a very wise woman who had been through a similar situation, I've begun to realize that forgiving him has nothing to do with him. It has to do with me. With my admitting that life goes on, that I can be free of his grasp, that regardless of what's happened in the past - those feelings don't have to continue in the future. I've become exactly what he never wanted me to be: a strong, self-sufficient, independent, confident, loving, loved woman.

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong." -Mahatma Ghandi

I know that relationship had a major impact on all of my relationships. I struggled to rebuild friendships that had been demolished. I know those women have had to grieve in their own way for how they suffered. And the same goes for my family. I can still hear the worry in the voices of my parents when I told them about BDR. They love me, unconditionally, and all they want is the best for me. I hope they know how far I've come, and I hope each of my family members (my friends are included there!) can find a way to forgive him for the pain and hurt it caused our entire family.

I hope and I pray that we can all forgive, set ourselves free of the pain and the hurt and the anger, but also learn from those experiences. Adjust our expectations of how the world works. Be grateful for what we have. Know that the past can't be changed, but it doesn't have to dictate our future.

I've become so much stronger than I was before, and I also feel so much more loved. Plus carrying the weight of the world around is hard work - letting go is so much easier.


Colleen said...

I am so happy you have come to this place!! I will work on this whole forgiveness thing, but I'm not going to promise anything. It all makes since, but I just don't know how...

Kristin said...

Proud of you Trish :) I'm so glad that you're back to the fun-loving person that we all remember before this bad stuff happened to you. Keep up the good work!