Forgiveness

I need to forgive someone from my childhood, a male, that I knew before I was fourteen. I’m just not sure who. If it is someone I have already forgiven, then I need to manifest the forgiveness in the physical world and not just in my mind. So, this is it. 

I am grateful for every experience in my life, good and bad, because they have lead me here. I am grateful to every person that has been a part of each experience, because they have brought me here. 

I believe that I chose my life’s lessons prior to my birth. I believe that we all do. We are here to learn and to grow towards enlightenment and lightness of being. We are here to transcend the physical planes of existence. To do that, we must experience and we must learn. 

My childhood was traumatic. As a result of the trauma, I have compartmentalised and boxed away a lot of memories. I saw a lot of violence. I heard a lot of violence. I received violence. Physical, emotional and sexual. I was easy prey; the oldest of three girls born in a time when men believed, still, that women were property and children were toys. 

I forgive those that perpetrated the violence. I forgive them because I understand that I chose those experiences. I wanted to learn what it was like to be a child victim, and I wanted to survive it and create a beautiful life for myself. I wanted to heal so that I could shine a light for others. 

I forgive the perpetrators because they were doing as I requested, so that I could learn and benefit. I forgive them because I also volunteered to be the victim for them to be able to learn their lessons. I pray that they have. 

And I forgive them because I am whole and I am happy. My life is open and my life is full. I am a successful businesswoman. I am a successful teacher. I am a successful writer. I am a successful healer. I am a successful friend, daughter, mother, aunt, sister, and every other label I choose to wear. I am a traveller, in this world and through many others. I read, I love, I learn, I do. 

So, to all of those that have wronged me, I say thank you. I forgive your unkindness, your brutality, you. Yes, I forgive you. 

And I acknowledge that I lost the ability to mother my own child, to have successful and healthy intimate relationships, to trust unconditionally, to not feel betrayal. But I also acknowledge, that in the light of day, I have gained more than I have lost. 

For I have been a mother many times already, I have married the love of my life in many lifetimes, I have trusted, I trust again, and I feel blessed, honoured and loved by the universal mother and father. This life continues to offer me riches and incredibly beautiful people to share my riches with. 

I forgive all who have ‘wronged’ me, and I say thank you to them for enabling and empowering the creation of this moment in time. Which is perfect. 

đŸ™đŸ»

Season 6 Episode 3 Girls

“I want to write. I want to write stories that make people feel less alone than I did,” Hannah, and Tina. 

But, not the whole point of this post. I dislike Hannah, and not a huge fan of the show, but something caught me when I saw the first episode of Season 1, and I’ve watched every episode since. It’s like a pulling to waste time. I’m weird like that. 

I like the episodes. This one, in particular, is exceptionally clever and Hannah seems to be finally growing up, into herself. I don’t know. Maybe she reminds me of how I once was, am, will be, and that’s why I don’t like it but watch it anyway. 

This episode, number three of season six, targets an issue that seems to be popping up for me in conversations, my friends’ experiences, TED Talks, everywhere. 

Consent, sexual violence, intent, power, imbalance. 

Relationships are difficult enough to navigate, attraction more so. 

I think it is safe to say that more often than not, women need closeness to be intimate whereas men feel closer after intimacy (thank you Kell, for putting it so succinctly). Women feel the attraction and want to know the man, but also feel ‘valuable’ and ‘special’ when men pay attention. It does seem to be the way that we are socially programmed. Our worth is intrinsically linked to the status of the men who ‘love’ us. 

I don’t completely believe this to be true unequivocally but it can be true. Meh. I should process before writing. In this case, trying to process through writing. 

Anyway, sexual violence changes a person permanently. This is true. A person, male or female, is never the same again after sexual violation. What constitutes the violation though? This area can be murky and grey. 

Tom Stranger (video link yesterday) reflects that he believed it was his ‘right’ to violate his drunk girlfriend, and that the culture he grew up in gave permission for this. Chuck Palmer, the writer in Girls, eloquently crafts a story that forces us to question his abuses of college girls and the extent to which he is victim too. 

Our society demonises perpetrators of sexual violence. I don’t this is wise. 

When I wrote the final piece for my Masters, I wanted to really write by exploring a voice that wasn’t mine. I chose to research and write the voice of the pedophile. One scene in particular made me physically ill but to be able to write the character well, I needed to find that part of myself that was a demon, for want of a better word. 

We are all capable of evil, of darkness, of violation. Maybe not in terms of sexual violence, but I remember I once killed a spider with bug spray and took delight in watching it writhe futilely (no, I’m not proud of admitting this). I became disgusted, repulsed, abhorred by my behavior, and don’t use bug spray or kill anything intentionally anymore. 

I learned the value of life in that moment, and the responsibility of power. It was a significant moment in my life. 

On Q&A on Monday night, Josephine Cashman, was quite condescending to the experience of Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger, and of the concept of forgiveness as it relates to sexual violence. I found her perspective way too literal and too rigid. Obviously, her context as a legal warrior has created this; she experiences the darkness of women in domestic violence situations who forgive others from fear only to be abused again and again. 

I believe that forgiveness is vital for mental health. When I hang on to anger, I am unable to live unencumbered. Forgiveness is not for others. Oprah suggests that forgiveness is really just giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. And when you do this, the weight literally lifts from your shoulders. Forgiveness is a gift that everyone who has ever experienced anything negative, any violation, deserves. 

Meh. Many thoughts weaving in and out of my consciousness. 

I think the way forward for all of us extends from people owning their behaviors, out loud and often. When we own our shadow selves, we bring light to them, and this reduces the impact of shame and guilt. The more light, the more voices, the healthier we all become. 

This is why I write this blog. I own my experiences, good and bad. Killing the spider, still seeing the delight I felt as I watched it die, reminds me that I have a shadow that thrives on power. I am vigilant to ensure that I do not abuse the power I have. But it does require vigilance. 

I emerged from a childhood devoid of power, and my natural instinct is to desire and covet power. I have met many adults, and due to dysfunctional pasts, in childhood or adulthood, they claim power against other people all of the time. 

They do this in a variety of ways, but mostly they keep others small by relentlessly putting them down. They stop others from being their best selves with criticism, by silencing their voices, through not creating an environment where others feel safe to just be, warts and all. 

I struggle in these environments, and I struggle to defend myself in these environments (when turned against me). My first instinct is to run. My second instinct is to shut a part of myself down, away from the ‘abuser’. When a person loses power to another, they try to address the imbalance by exerting power over someone or something else. If we just started by owning these times, I think we would all be happier. 

At the core of most sexual violence is the issue of power. 

Let’s light this up. Let’s fix it at the most basic level in all of us. Let’s change our world. Together. With many united voices. 

When you put my beliefs down, it makes me feel worthless and like you don’t care, and then I don’t trust you. When you don’t own your behaviour, our relationship breaks down. When you do own your behaviour, we both flourish. 

The Power of Words 

Warning:

I don’t want to say too much about this TED Talk; the power is in viewing it. However, it is about sexual violence and could trigger you if you have suffered or perpetrated such acts. 

I love that it humanises both victim/survivor and perpetrator; something I aimed to do when I wrote my final piece for my Masters in Writing a few years ago. 

I think everyone should watch this, think about it and talk about it. 
Our story of rape and reconciliation https://www.ted.com/talks/thordis_elva_tom_stranger_our_story_of_rape_and_reconciliation

The Danger of Labels 

I was shy as a child. I was shy, unless drunk, in my twenties. I said I was shy in my thirties, and I believed it. I have said I am shy in my forties, but it’s no longer true. I was told I was fat as a child. I was told I was fat as a teenager. I was not fat, not as a child and not as a teenager. I am now. 

I call myself ugly. This isn’t true. Even though I am fat. 

Labels are dangerous. They limit us. They hinder us from fulfilling our fullest potential. Even positive labels. I am a good person. But I can be a cranky cow. If you believe I am only a good person, you won’t accept me when I’m not. 

The labels we put on ourselves are the most damaging. I have let, I’m quite sure, my labels define me, and define my life choices.

I was unworthy, undeserving, unlovable. 

All garbage. And, as a result, I didn’t believe that I was worthy, deserving and lovable. 
I am. 
I am perfect in my imperfection. 

And, so are you. 
Today we welcomed and explored Lakshmi Shakti. We honoured ourselves collectively and individually as priestesses of Lakshmi. We started cleansing our shame. 

The group connectedness and energy here is palpable. We are a mighty group of women, empowering ourselves here whilst immersed in a culture that does not offer the same to all of our sisters. 

The individual connections I have made here are inspiring in their illumination of what is possible. Today we embraced our voices. We sang our song. Literally and metaphorically. Today, healing became conscious. 
I forgive myself for labeling myself. 

I forgive myself for self-imposed limitations as a result of the labels. 

I forgive myself for everything that I failed to do as a result of the limitations of the labels. 
I forgive me. 
I will not let me be silenced by labels, arbitrary rules or by others any more. 

For over 34 weeks I have been under investigation for allegedly failing to report the alleged misconduct of others. I have been shackled and made voiceless. This shackling triggered memories of childhood dysfunction and abuse. It brought back childhood shame. It breathed fire into dormant feelings of not being enough. 

And for thirty four weeks I have struggled because a system is telling me that who I am, a warrior woman, is not allowed to be. 

Today, I have reclaimed my voice. 

Today, I am me. 

I forgive myself. I forgive the system. I forgive those that enforce the system. 

And I have faith that all is as it should be. And that all that is meant to be, will be. 
Thank you to my new friends, Mel and Rayleigh, for allowing me to find the words. And to Alana, for the opportunity in sacred space to heal. 

The Importance of Context 

We all have moments when we judge without thinking. Well, you might not but definitely do. Generally on small stupid things for me. The big things I think about a bit more. 

Especially about the context. 

Like, yesterday there was a series of fights on the road behind my school in the evening. The media instantly used our school as the selling point, strongly implying that in some way our school, and all of its students and staff were responsible. Shaking my head, still in disbelief. 

I cannot stop judging the media, harassing kids as they walked through the gates this morning. No responsibility accepted for printing non factual information, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Pfft. 

However, their context is that they need to satisfy the media bureaucracy and the truth rarely makes as good a story. 

Moving on Tina (my anger and frustration is still palpable). 

The events of the last twenty four hours have really impressed upon me the importance of understanding context. It is easy to judge from the surface. But it is infinitely more important to understand, and when understanding happens, judgement can’t. I think this could be the way to peace. 

It has been for me. 

Throughout my childhood I witnessed a lot of behaviour from damaged people. It impacted deeply. To heal I needed to discover the context behind the damage, and once I did, I was able to forgive (it was a process). 

I am fiercely protective of Campbelltown, my school, that community and my kids. I dislike when people not from the area judge it mercilessly. Ignorance in this case is not bliss, it’s just ignorance. And the worst kind. It implies that there are layers of society, and ultimately, the only difference comes down to how well we hide the damage and broken souls that inhabit society. 

I like that it isn’t hidden in Campbelltown. As Dr Phil says, you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. We own our damage and we work tirelessly to heal the community from it. And as a result, we are better for it. 

We were attacked unjustifiably by the media which has caused a negative perception in the community. All I ask is that we all, always, try to understand the context. 
PS. I apologise for the scattered nature of this post. Probably need to process the day more. 

My Parents 

I survived a tumultuous and dysfunctional childhood. It wasn’t all bad but there was plenty of bad in it. My dad emerged from Nazi Germany as a toddler without his birth mother; she died of tuberculosis during the war. My mum emerged from her Finnish home at the same time in world history. They both endured and survived their own childhoods. Stories for another time. 

As an adult, in this house actually, I have spoken to both of my parents (separately) about their lives before me, and their own childhood stories and experiences. I also spoke to them at length about my perception of my childhood under their reign. With tears, they both acknowledged responsibility for the dysfunction. 

This enabled me to forgive them and move forward; away from childhood pain and wounds that were manifesting negatively in my adult self. And when I say I forgave them, this didn’t happen overnight. It had been a process towards understanding that I initiated in my early twenties. My logic was that if I could understand their stories, so why they made the choices they did that inevitably impacted on my childhood, then I would be able to move forward. I would understand why. 

What I haven’t acknowledged prior to now, is what a huge gift this was from my parents.

It was a difficult journey for both of them to acknowledge responsibility for my childhood. It hurt both of them immensely. And I was cold in exacting that acknowledgement. In retrospect, it was necessary for me to move forward and have the relationships I have with both of my parents now, but it hurt them at the time. And I am so proud of them both for doing it, and immensely grateful. 

I felt that my parents didn’t protect me during my childhood. Due to their own significant issues, they weren’t able to ensure my safety or the safety of my sisters. They were absent even though they were physically present. 

But in our adult relationships, well, they have become closer to the ideal parents we all long for. They both step up when they know there is a problem. Stepping up for them means that they have to suspend their own fears and patterns of behaviour, and I am grateful that they do. I don’t say that enough. Or ever, really. And I should. 

As I said, it was a process of forgiveness through understanding, and I think it is important for all of us to realize how important forgiveness is in our lives. I will always have damaged parts of myself. 

But they do not define me. 

Most people wouldn’t even realize I was damaged and broken. My childhood is not the sum of me. 

And I have been able to embrace the positive aspects of myself that resulted from my experiences throughout childhood. I am empathetic. I am strong. I am compassionate. I am resilient. I survived. And I grew. I understand. And I share my knowledge. I make a difference in this world because I can. 

These are some of the gifts that my dysfunctional childhood empowered me with. And I am grateful for them and the experiences that gave them to me. 

I don’t think I wish my life would have been different. 

And this is big. My childhood encompassed sexual, physical and emotional/psychological violence. Fairly consistently. Pretty much until I moved out at sixteen and a half (for the first time). 

And moving through it as an adult, dealing with the memories and the lack of memories, with the trauma and the fear that manifests in bouts of depression, self harm and dark thoughts of suicide, has been lonely and terrifying at times. But I have moved through it and I am stronger as a result. 

And now, I feel quite happy and calm. I am quite at peace in my life. 

As I have aged, I have become more grateful for my parents. A lot of my friends have lost one or both of their parents, and I see the impact of the loss. I am grateful that we have resolved my childhood together; it has been empowering. And whilst my parents weren’t brilliant when I was growing up, I don’t doubt their love for me. And as an adult child, they have stepped up and if I ask for help, they try to provide whatever assistance they are able to. 

Together, and as individuals, we have moved forward. 

I am very grateful for that. 

Thank you mum and dad! 

I love you always. 

Visiting the Past

I am not feeling well at the moment; nothing major, a small chest infection, but it is causing me to not overload myself at the moment. This is definitely not a bad thing lol.

And so I am watching Dr Phil. I think most of my healing as an adult has been through Dr Phil and Oprah. They deserve medals lol. They have both championed the rights of people like me for as long as I can remember; I am grateful to them both.

And in this particular episode there is a fifteen year old girl who screams at conflict. I cried when I saw her do it because it triggered memories of when I was her. And at the same age. If there was conflict at home I would just start screaming. Not screaming like a scared scream. It was a scream from deep, very very deep within my soul. And it carried with it everything I could not give voice too.

And it scared my parents.
It also terrified me.

I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know where it came from. I didn’t know why I did it. One time it resulted in my father dragging me by the hair up the hallway to get me away from where I was so that it would stop. Remember – it scared my parents. It didn’t stop me. He called my mum and by the time she arrived I was crouched in the corner of my bed against the wall still screaming. I saw her fear too.

But watching Dr Phil today, seeing my fifteen year old self on the screen through this other girl, I started to understand.

And then Dr Phil articulated it.

Kids who have spent their lives living abuse almost every day try many different coping strategies. They also try different things to make sense out of the chaos; try to find the sanity in the insane. Invariably over time when none of these work, a guttural scream arises. And at the very least it is something the child can control and it provides the soul with temporary quiet, ironically.

I have spent most of my adult life trying to sort out the wounds from my childhood and attempting to minimize their impact on my life, well the negative effects.

Some of what has assisted me has been confronting my parents and not backing down when excuses were given, but more significantly I think, from them after this, their ability to say to me what they never did or could when I was growing up. They have said ‘I love you’ and more importantly, ‘I am proud of you’.

The parents on today’s show are nowhere near that point, might never be, but I am proud of my parents for their ownership of their mistakes and their ownership in finding solutions.

They both grew up in a very different time in a different world. Understanding their contexts moved me closer to forgiveness. It also opened communication channels because they were my only source of finding out about their lives as children. I have good relationships with both of my parents these days and the screaming girl no longer screams.

The Importance of Forgiveness

It is no secret to anyone in this world anymore that without forgiveness we cannot move forward in our lives. Any psychologist or counsellor will tell you that if you don’t forgive those who have wronged you or caused you pain and/or hardship, you will never feel happy or liberated or peaceful again. You say goodbye to the potential of all of that.

And I agree.

I wouldn’t be as high functioning as I perceive myself to be if I hadn’t forgiven all of those ‘who have trespassed against me’.

But in moments of weakness and vulnerability and pain I am forced to question why I repeat unhealthy patterns.

Tonight I had an epiphany. I was watching one of my heroes, Susan Sarandon, on Oprah’s Master Class, and she was talking about the difficulties of Dead Man Walking,and it struck me. I’ve forgiven everyone who has ever caused me pain and hurt, well almost everyone.

One person has been overlooked in my forgiveness. An important person. Probably the most important person.

Me.

I’ve never forgiven myself for my mistakes, my abuses, my poor choices.

This must be what is stopping my health. I need to forgive myself.