- JL Whitehead
Give yourself the gift of forgiveness
A few years ago, a therapist asked me a question that I couldn’t answer. But since the day that he asked me this question, I’ve pondered the answer and after all this time I think I finally have the answer.
He asked me why I wasn’t angry at my molesters. He asked me why I didn’t carry any rage at them because of what they had taken from me. Initially, I told him that I didn’t know. But now I understand why I didn’t have the rage that he thought I should have. Each of these men…all three predators were not viewed as predators. In my mind, these were men that I looked up to; friendships cherished, authority respected and yes, even a romantic relationship entwined with feelings of the love of father and son. I couldn’t be enraged even if I wanted to.
It isn’t that I don’t know better. Of course, I know now that these men hurt me by taking away the innocence that I had willingly submitted to them as a young boy. But I didn’t know any better. Certainly not like I know now.
But I don’t have anger at them. Instead, I know that what they did was wrong. It’s just that the anger is non-existent. I don’t feel rage. Instead, I view what happened to me as something that happened and I harbor no feelings of anger or resentment towards them.
I’ve been able to get on with my life and advocate for the men that will not or cannot advocate for themselves.
I cannot do this with anger in my heart for the men that took away my innocence.
In order to be able to love and trust people around me, I had to relinquish any and all parts of anger that I may have felt. I knew that with the man that I called “Stan”, I was not the only victim. After me, he simply went on to the next boy.
With the man that I called “Mr. Jackson”, he took a piece of my innocence because he played a role of authority in my life. With the man that I called “Zeke”; he gained my trust as a friend and then took my innocence and then tossed it aside as if it were nothing.
In all of this, I know that if I held onto this anger, it would destroy me.
I chose to let it go…but not before it did damage to the man that I was struggling to become. It didn’t define me as much as it became a part of me. I forgave them…and with that forgiveness came a bit of empowerment. First off, it didn’t happen again. Secondly, after going through a series of failed relationships, I learned a valuable lesson. I had to love myself before I could love anyone else. Anyone that would claim to love me would put me first. It had to be that way.
And for any man this has happened to, it has to be that way for you too.
I’ve adopted a saying. That saying is, “Walk in Love and Light.”
I believe that each and every one of us needs to walk in love and light…and eventually, we have to wish the same for anyone that has hurt us. This isn't to say that it will be an easy task. For some of us, it will seem downright impossible.
However, to my fellow men; I say to you…learn to embrace and walk in love and light. Give yourself the gift of freedom and peace by letting what happened to you turn into a part of you. Forgive the person that harmed you; not for them but for yourself.
~ J.L. Whitehead