* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”
* Looking for people who have had forced abortions or been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and therapists or pastors about the project? They can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Thank you so much!
This is a word that has confused me for a very long time. I’m sure I misunderstand it, because so many people think it’s a good thing.
I learned the concept at age five from the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I was sort of numb that year and figured it was like taking turns, I forgive one trespass and you forgive one until they are all gone. I didn’t have the vaguest idea what a trespass was.
Later I figured out it meant sin and that forgiveness meant, “Oh, don’t worry, I’m not mad anymore. It’s all right now.” By this time I was no longer numb, I seethed with anger and I was told that I was bad any time I showed that anger. So I thought that no way was the Lord going to forgive me for anything because I sure as hell wasn’t going to forgive those who mistreated me. It wasn’t all right, and I was going to hold a grudge forever. I didn’t know how to get rid of anger, so I carried it around for years and years.
My anger abated somewhat after I stopped getting hurt, but to this day forgiveness remains a mystery to me. Looking it up in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, I find:
1. to cease to feel resentment against (an offender), to pardon
2. to give up resentment of or claim to requital”
Well, that doesn’t solve the mystery. Why shouldn’t you feel resentment toward somebody who has hurt you? Why shouldn’t you feel you have a right to financial help or, at the very least, an apology?
Another thing I don’t get – you can make a conscious decision to give up any material claims against a person who harmed you, but you cannot change your feelings so easily. It’s hard work to come to terms with what was done to you and to move past the hurt and rage at the person who hurt you so badly. For me, it was a process that spanned many, many years.
Bothe my parents had died before I remembered. I realized that, if they were still alive, they wouldn’t have believed me, they wouldn’t have changed, and there was zero chance that I would get an apology or help of any sort. If here was going to be any change, it would have to be on my part.
Before they died, my finger became less intense. My life expanded and I cared about other people, other things. I had less time to be furious at those who had wronged me because I chose to spend my time being a wife, raising kids, caring for pets, taking care of a house, learning new things, reading books, going to concerts. My world was broader. And, as I said earlier, I had escaped and was no longer being actively abused.
Right after my amnesia cracked, I felt fear, not rage. Probably I felt terror while things were happening, and only when it was over and I realized I was still alive did the rage come. In any event, the anger did appear after a few months. All I knew to do was to sit with it, day after day, trusting that time would bring change.
Slowly I realized that they had been amnesic for what they were doing. And – this is very important – they were doing to me what had been done to them as children. They were caught and did not know escape was possible.
Finally, my anger turned to sadness that they had not been able to escape. I came to realize what a profound influence societal attitudes had on me. There were others talking about domestic violence, incest, multiplicity, and ritual abuse. There was a context, a framework, for my experiences. A generation before this was not so. It was believed that incest occurred in only one in a million families and so it was highly unlikely that incest, let alone ritual abuse, was the cause my strange dreams and fantasies and profound unhappiness.
I am grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Women’s Movement for these new insights. Both broke tabus and talked about things that had been denied and shrouded in silence for so long. Both believed that it was better to face the truth and deal with it in the presence of others than to continue to hide from it. I was given permission to remember, permission to tell, permission to seek out other survivors and to heal along side them in community.
Is this sadness forgiveness? I no longer have fantasies of sneaking a gun into a ritual and killing all the grownups. My fantasies now include them being in a better place, understanding why they did what they did, and regretting have done it. Just as I understand that I was tricked into or forced to do what I did, and I deeply regret having done it. If they could have had the chance to grow beyond cult sadism perhaps we could have finally met as survivors, as equals in pain and the desire for a better life.
So right now, I have given up any claim to recompense and I no longer feel the desire for revenge. But do I pardon?
No. I can understand and feel great compassion for my tormenters, but I cannot pardon what they did. Nor can I pardon what I did, For, in my mind, one pardons deeds, not people. And those deeds are unforgivable.
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon
8/1 S N Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/26 S Full moon
Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
7/29 N Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)