Forgiveness is a dirty word. Or it is for me because somebody altered my life forever and I can’t forgive him.
My mind wants to forgive him because not doing it only makes me suffer, or so they say.
On this issue, my brain and heart disagree. When someone I trusted explicitly wrongs me and I keep suffering the consequences while they get to live scott- and guilt-free, it becomes even harder to think of forgiveness.
There are two people in my life I don’t think I can ever forgive: The one who wronged me and the one who wronged my son.
My father molested me when I was 12. It was not my first encounter with sexual assault. I had already been raped by a stranger when I was 9. That left deep scars as well but because I believe fathers are supposed to protect their children, my father’s actions were a deeper betrayal. I was so confused. I didn’t know what to think. I started to shy away from any kind of touch with him, running in the opposite direction when he approached me. I had never locked my bedroom door at night but after that day, I just didn’t feel too safe and felt the need to lock my door.
I grew up extremely sheltered so I obviously had no idea what had happened. I just couldn’t shake this feeling that what he did wasn’t right. A father wasn’t supposed to hug his naked daughter tight, rubbing himself against her. Some of the things he said hadn’t made sense either. It was at that moment that I developed trust issues, though of course I couldn’t know that at the time. If the person you’re supposed to trust the most betrays you like that, how could any person in the world be trustworthy?
The effects of what happened are far-reaching and haunt me still. Sex, which should be pleasurable are a chore. It’s causing tension between my husband and me.
Apparently, it was such a trauma for me that it completely blocked and froze my emotions according to my holistic doctor. That’s the reason for my ADD-like symptoms such as brain fog, feeling as if my mind is one big black hole. My life is a mess and I have my father to thank for it.
I doubt he even remembers what he did. We are in regular contact and I act as if nothing ever happened. I don’t think he can fathom what his one moment of pleasure cost me.
I don’t confront him because I don’t feel I am strong enough. Out of respect for my mother I can’t do it either.
Respect for the elders is a big issue in Judaism. I asked my Rabbi if I still had the obligation to respect my father after what he did. The answer was no. I am civil to him although my rage does burst out from time to time. I have so much inner anger at what he did, at his weakness and his inability to realize the consequences of his actions. How can I forgive?
I managed to get married and build a beautiful family. I tried to put the past behind me. I was a worried parent, seeing abuse everywhere. My experiences made me super vigilant and scared for my kids, seeing as I couldn’t trust any adults.
One day, my absolute worst nightmare came true. The special ed school of my high functioning autistic son called my husband and I in for a meeting. Apparently there has been some worrying behaviour from my son, and they wanted to talk about it.. He told kids to pull down their pants and stand behind one another. What he has done seemed like a mimic of what has been done to him. They suggested therapy to try and figure out if something had happened to him.
I will never forget how I felt in that moment. My body started shaking. I literally felt my world crashing down around me. I tried not to let the principal see how much her every word knifed my heart, wounding it severely. I could barely breathe as the blood swirled in my ears.
But I was given the strength and pulled myself together. The road ahead would be and still is extremely bumpy with ups and many painful downs. It is far from over and the damage is long lasting.
It took another year for my son to finally reveal that a foreign worker whom we trusted and who has worked in my house for years had repeatedly molested him. My heart shattered in a thousand pieces as my son looked up to me and said: “mom, now you understand why I keep telling you I’m bad? Right what I did was bad?”
I hugged him tight, looked into his eyes and told him that he was the victim of a sick and terrible person. I assured him that he is not bad and never will be. This man was, and it was him that did a terrible thing and I made sure he heard many times that he was blameless.
This despicable man ruined so much for our family. My son has issues no child should have. His rapist taught him stuff that no child should know at the age of 11. Our lives revolve around therapy to try to get my son through his trauma, but we know there might well be long term consequences. My son didn’t want to involve the police so I confronted the man and warned him I would inform the police if he ever touched my son or another child again. Not long after, he and his wife fled the country. I am livid that this man can live in peace wherever he is while we try to pick up the pieces and will probably struggle with this or a long time to come.
I don’t see how forgiving this man would bring me peace.
I can’t forgive while my son and I are still paying the price for someone else’s actions.
For the rest of my life I will carry the burden of my abuse, and that of my son, there is no forgiveness, there is only hate for now. I’d like to believe that one day, I might find it in me to forgive but I’m not there yet.