Forgiveness isn’t a line you cross, it’s a road you take.
It has been a while since my last blog post. I kept waiting for an epiphany or something – a complete healing to write about maybe (?), following my decision to forgive Don (last blog post).
My husband asked, “Do you feel different after deciding to forgive Don?”
The truth is, I don’t feel much different, YET.
I feel a little more free and I’ve had some great days, but healing is truly kind of a volatile process, the harm of abuse, unforgiveness and shame, slough off only in fragile singular layers.
Choosing forgiveness doesn’t remove the emotions and pain. It won’t cause you to forget. You still move through all the same feelings. Choosing the road of forgiveness does however allow you to move through the process – the emotions, the thoughts and feelings – more cleanly. Forgiveness lifts and removes the rot from the wound to enable your regeneration and healing.
Unforgiveness is necrotic, rotting tissue – infected encasement, hampering your spirit, soul, personality and life – thwarts healthy progress. The process of healing and forgiveness reminds me of a medical procedure called debridement, sometimes necessary for the physical healing of chronic wounds.
“Necrotic (dead) tissue can delay wound healing. It is often necessary for the devitalized tissue to be removed before any progress towards healing can be made. For this reason, it is often necessary to remove necrotic tissue surgically, a process known as debridement.
Debridement involves the removal of necrotic tissue to promote wound healing.
During wound healing, the affected area can become overrun with necrotic – or dead – tissue. This can be harmful to the body’s ability to recover and develop new skin, so debridement may be necessary to remove that dead material. In this way, debridement is essential for preparing the wound bed to promote speedy and efficient healing.
Why is debridement important?
Debridement promotes the wound healing process in a variety of ways. Not only does dead skin inhibit the development of healthy new tissue, but it makes the affected area more susceptible to infection. It can also hide the signs of infection, as dead tissue can increase odor and exudate (weeping wound) making it easier for bacteria and other harmful foreign invaders to spread.”
In other words, your untreated wounds affect your entire life and every relationship and circumstance – how you handle and experience and perceive all of life.
The healthy results of forgiveness (the cleaning of the wounds) can’t be fully manifest until all the necrosis is removed – and that is painful. You have moments of rest and then the dreaded nurse walks in to begin the scraping again. These times are excruciating!
How do we know there is an untreated wound?
We know there’s an untreated wound by an overreaction to a situation, person, place or thing (called a trigger) that makes us react as if we are being wounded when in actuality someone or something has merely bumped up against an existing wound, from another time and place. Sometimes when someone or some circumstance bumps into a chronic untreated/unhealed wound, it can feel as if we are being wounded; we need to learn to discern the difference.
We know there is an untreated chronic wound when our outward behavior conflicts with what we say we feel, believe, want, and have.
For example: When I first met with my therapist I told her that my personal and spiritual life is better than it has ever been, yet I was still experiencing severe depression. I was still isolating myself and I was still filled with anxiety. My experience and joy and behavior was incongruous, didn’t match what I was saying.
Another example: A trustworthy loved one fails to meet an emotional need. They don’t hug you or ask you what’s wrong, when it’s obvious you are feeling down. You then get angry and accuse them, treat them, and feel as if they’ve let you down your entire relationship. They didn’t created the wound of neglect, they bumped into it – but it sure can feel as though they created it.
These ‘bumping’ circumstances, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, is the ‘Nurse’ who comes to undress and reveal the wound for debridement, for healing. And yes, it can be excruciating!
I had one of these moments at the end of my last counseling session. A repressed memory surfaced. I had no clue or memory I was molested by a woman so this is completely foreign territory for me. I don’t yet fully know who, or how, or when it happened… I just have a sense of it happening. The memory hangs on the tip of my brain but my body fully remembers. It’s an odd and vague sensation.
The body-memories manifest in the form of stronger depression and anxiety – a sort of restlessness and strange, yucky, sexual tension. So… this is where I am in my process.
Another significant development over the past month is acknowledging the love I once had for my adopted mother. It was buried all these years and all I’ve been in touch with is the bitterness and anger and disgust. Unforgiveness is a vacuum in your life, sucking up joy and quality of life. Acknowledging/recognizing the wound and it’s effects (where you’ve rotted) is the first step in healing. I have much forgiving to do, and many more sessions of debridement ahead, but glory to God that while great depths of me suffer, some things went unbroken. He is still and always near.
Annita: You hurt me. You left me at a pivotal time I needed you. You weren’t there for me. You refused to address your own issues, disabling yourself to help me. You chose yourself over me. You denied your abuse of me. You even made my grandparents believe I was making it all up. It was years before they finally knew the truth. You stole from me many great years I could have had with them.
You abandoned me. You made yourself unsafe. I needed you but you sent me to a home and forgot about me. You left me stranded. You let me be abused. You turned your head. I am so angry at you. You made me feel such hate and bitterness.
I wanted someone to respect and look up to, a mentor, and you left me empty of that gift. You made me feel hate toward you and I never wanted to hate. I hoped in you and you made me feel the opposite of hope. I felt alone. Hopeless. Helpless. You should have been there.
You should have confessed to my counselors that you abused me instead of letting them believe I was messed up for no apparent reason, or just because of Don and everyone/everything else in my past.
I was stuck between needing you, wanting you and hating you for too long. You haven’t changed, and that’s what stinks. Can you imagine being that jammed up inside? A mother who would rather preserve herself over her children, is sick! You’re sick. You always have been, and I think you always will be.
But I want to be free of you. Free from hate and bitterness and shame. I want to move to the point of forgiveness for you – a place where I can accept your sickness and let Jesus bear the shame of it. Right now I still aim it at you, which keeps me connected and filled with the yuck of it all; keeps me distant from the best for myself and how I show up in my world.
When we had our adoption celebration lunch at TJ’s Pantry, I was nauseous because I had eaten a ton of pixie sticks (candy powder) beforehand. We were in a booth and I laid my head on your lap. You felt soft and kind. I was so comforted and content, even in the midst of my nausea. I felt safe. That was the last time I remember feeling that way. You stole that from me, the loss is searing, and I continue to long for it in my heart. I’ve cried so much this week, releasing the agony from this vaulted arctic frost. Ohhhh how you hurt me. I know once I move through this pain, I’ll come out at a clearing of forgiveness, but I need to expose the wounds. It’s part of debridement. I’m sorry for hating you. I miss you and what could have been. What should have been.
God, thank you for being by my side – for holding my hand – that I can rest my head on your lap as you help me let this go. Give me your view and your perspective – your heart – and show me where to go from here. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Corinthians – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is the spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
John 14 – I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.