I'd like to introduce my new blog, The Prodigal Parishioner.
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Forgiveness is art of giving—of giving to ourselves, to our healing, and to our spiritual growth. It’s letting go of anger and resentment, and dissolving any desire for revenge or payback. It’s a release and a relief.
What forgiveness is not is a memory eraser, nor should it be. “Forgive and forget” is an unhealthy attitude, because it’s impossible to forget excruciating trauma, nor should we try. “Forgetting” in this way is merely burying things rather than healing them—or healing from them. In order to heal, we can’t avoid. We have to walk directly through the scorching heat of the recovery process. Even after we fully heal, we won’t magically forget our trauma. Instead we’ll remember it, acknowledge how we’ve grown from the suffering we’ve endured, and recall what the abusive situation was like. This allows us not only to avoid similar situations in the future, but also to feel a healthy sense of much-needed empowerment and self-worth, an acknowledgment of the immense strength it takes to emerge from victim to resilient survivor.
Forgiveness is about release: release of toxic attachment to a situation or person, release of having to dwell on what the person said or did, release to create the space to focus on yourself—on your own God-given strengths and talents, healthy hobbies and pursuits, and the development of close ties with supportive and loving friends and family.
To say it hurts to be betrayed is an immense understatement, but to express the anguish that’s experienced when an intimate partner deceives you—not once, or twice, but repeatedly through domestic abuse—is impossible to describe. The cycle of both major and minor betrayals show just how much narcissistic partners care—about themselves.
It can be extremely difficult to admit the truth when there’s abuse within an intimate relationship. It’s easier to accept his excuses—that you’re to blame, the two of you merely have a communication problem that can be worked out, or you’re being oversensitive and blowing things out of proportion. (In fact, abuse victims tend to do the opposite—they usually minimize their experiences.) If his voice keeps replaying in your head, and his narrative is believed, then it’s easier to maintain hope that things can change. After all, if it’s your fault that your relationship is so tumultuous and torturous, then it’s within your power to fix it.
But it’s not. In an abusive relationship, the power dynamic is skewed against you—until you come to that startling and shattering moment when you realize your power has been slipping away and you need to take it back. If you don’t, you feel as if you’ll crumble away into nothingness, like a desolate pillar of salt.
I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.