Saturday, July 30, 2016

Forgiving the Worst Offenses Ever Done to Me

It's quite interesting that during World Youth Day -- the theme this year is mercy ("Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" Mt 5:7) -- I've had to face the two biggest offenses ever done to me. These two things happened during my childhood and have been crosses I've had to bear and work through in therapy (as they have been causes for the development of my anxiety disorder) and were a bit unexpected.

As some of you longtime readers may remember, I've talked about how, when I was a little girl (4 years old or so), I used to be locked in the bathroom by an older half-brother and my sister-in-law for hours while my parents worked. This seems to be the root cause of my fear of being enclosed in small spaces; of being trapped without a way of getting out. I still have the memory of having a little pink chair next to the door, where I sat until I was let out before my parents came home. I was also underfed. I think what finally tipped my parents off (from what I was told) was that they found me standing on top of a stool, over the stove, trying to heat some tortillas to eat because they (bro and SIL) didn't feed me very well. I actually have some fuzzy memories of this; definitely remember when my parents caught me heating tortillas because I was hungry. Again, I was 4 years-old. My guardian angel definitely kept me safe from harm because I could have burnt myself in the process.

This week (Wednesday through Thursday), my brother and SIL came to visit. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle seeing them (I hadn't seen them in years) so I asked my friends to pray for me. I was sure that would need both strength and charity. I wasn't sure if the wounds had been healed and was worried that they hadn't been. I've been working with both therapists and spiritual directors over the years to help forgive and let go but it was never put to the test by having the people who hurt me in front of me after I'd worked through the hurt. I was nervous until they came to visit and then I saw something unexpected: the hurt and anger were gone.

The visit wasn't completely hiccup free. My sister-in-law spoke through my brother in the first couple of minutes they were here (which I thought was a bit rude since my questions were addressed to her) but it quickly went away. I was able to talk to both of them as if I were talking to anyone else. Before they left, they took my car and found me a mechanic to fix the a/c in the car. My brother even paid for part of the repairs, which I was not expecting. I felt so at peace that I hugged my SIL as they left and thanked them for everything. That hug was a release and a wonderful moment for me. I was grateful for the opportunity to put that awful experience (one that triggered a lifetime of fear in me) behind and to know that the wounds had been healed. Later that night, my mother said that my SIL looked and spoke to me in a way that showed that she was ashamed of what she did when I was a little girl. Now it's my turn to pray for her so that she may forgive herself.

The second experience happened today. I'm going to have to be super vague about this one because I'm not ready to open up this part of my life but let's just say it's the one thing that has plagued me for most of my life. It also happened during childhood (shortly after what happened with my bro and SIL) and it also instilled a lot of fear and anger in me. This one, unlike my brother's visit, was a surprise. The person who committed the offense called me and wanted to help get my car fixed since my brother had mentioned it (and given that person my number, apparently.) I told them my car was getting fixed and that I didn't need help. I tried to be as civil as possible and, thankfully, the call didn't last for more than 2-3 minutes.

When we hung up, I called my mom and told her what happened. She told me not to be angry with my brother (I'm not and wasn't then either) because he was only trying to help. I then texted one of my best friends and let it out so I wouldn't bottle anything up. It wasn't until I said everything on my mind that I cried. Hello, gift of tears. Part of the reason for those tears was because it was unexpected and it scared me a little bit. I was unprepared to talk to the person who'd inflicted the most pain on me. The other reason for the tears was (I believe) because I didn't feel the anger I'd felt in the past. In fact, I felt no anger or any of the negative emotions I'd felt in the past. There was actually some confusion because I didn't know what to make of it all and the anger wasn't coming out like it had in the past. I wasn't exactly at peace since the call rattled me a bit, but I had no ill will towards the person. Do I want to talk to or see them again in the future? No. Not because I haven't forgiven them -- I think I've finally gotten to the point where I have forgiven them and have moved forward -- but because, for my own mental health, it would be best that I don't have a constant reminder of the past in front of me. The past is the past and I refuse to let what happened in the past keep me an emotional and psychological prisoner.

I've been following WYD events closely and I had the prayer vigil on the TV when all of this happened today. After I talked to my mom and my friend, I looked up at the TV (watching it on EWTN) and the skit about forgiveness began. Two actors acted out Pope St. John Paul II forgiving his would-be assassin in the jail cell. I began sobbing because, obviously, it hit so close to home. I asked God to help me forgive if I hadn't forgiven them but it felt like I have and I've moved on. I also felt as if this week has happened because God wants to show me that I've moved forward and have healed from those unfortunate events in my life. The tears didn't last long because I began to feel, deep down, that God allowed for these things to happen this week because He's preparing me for a new chapter in my life.

This past summer has been one big deja vu moment. As I've written before, it feels like God is giving me a second chance to do everything with more wisdom, more faith, and more peace. I've already spent a week in and out of the ER like I did the summer I reverted. God has opened my eyes to many things that have hurt my relationship with Him as well as my own well being, including things have been detrimental to me in various ways (physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, etc).

Just like I did 10 years ago, I've begun the process of cutting out toxic people from my life. My academic (and general) plans have changed quite suddenly. I've learned how to best take care of myself according to my introverted nature. Now I've learned that the biggest wounds in my life have been healed, not through anything I might've done by myself but thanks to His love for me. What a wonderful gift from God on the 10 year anniversary of my reversion.

Again, I feel as if God is allowing me to see that I've matured and I'm ready for whatever new and exciting adventures He has in store for me. While I might've felt weak, unprepared, too fragile, and/or incapable of moving forward in the past, I don't feel that way anymore. Things that I felt kept me from doing anything no longer feel like obstacles. I feel like I now have the tools to unpause my life because, honestly, it feels like I've been completely stagnant for the past decade. Now? I'm all set, I think. I feel like I'm finally doing what I wanted to do in my 20s. All in God's time, right? I hope that everything I've gone through this summer (thus far) means that my time to do everything I've felt called to do will finally happen. I'm ready, Lord.

Anyway, I've written way too much so I'm going to go do something else. Perhaps I'll go clean the apartment while I wait for the mechanic to call about my car. I'm sooo ready for a/c in the car because I've been trapped in the house when temperatures have gotten over 85 degrees... which has been almost all day, every day.

I hope y'all are having a lovely weekend thus far.

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

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