Two comments I think all authors want to hear – “I couldn’t put it down” and “Can’t wait for book II to come out.” I’m still amazed at the response I’m getting for “Dodging Her Chariot”. It seems I’ve joined the small number of men and women who’ve become a voice for those many silent one’s who experienced similar traumas in their own childhood. I get words of gratitude from people as young as 13 and as mature as 65.
Evil flourishes as long as it can remain hidden and only succumbs to the pressure that stems from exposure. Yet I’m not surprised at the number of people that suffered in silence. Statistics are only accurate for those willing to be counted. Most of us were too afraid to speak up; we knew the number of those included in the count were only a small percentage of the real lives because we could recognize the signs in one another as well as we could the abusers. Yet we couldn’t speak out to be counted.
To all of you I need to say – My freedom to write this series grew out of forgiveness. I cried the tears you shed now, year after year, until I learned to forgive those who took my childhood. That’s the secret to the freedom that I enjoy now.
Mom passed away in our home. She was saved and knew her God the last 20 years of her life. She was a different woman from the one I grew up with. But even before then I realized something that was such a simple fact that at first it made me angry for wasted time and then made me determined to redeem any remaining time I had left on this earth.
The simple fact is, like it or not, that our abusers rarely feel enough remorse for their actions to lose even one nights sleep; while we spend months and even years lying awake with a pit of hatred eating away at us because we know we have every right to hold as much hate as we can muster toward them. I realized that the bitterness I clinged to only hurt me and potentially those closest to me. I saw that my hate continued the pain someone else started even after they eventually stopped.
We know that while abuse is happening, the abuser has full control over his or her victim. My question became – Who keeps the pain inflamed long after the abuser is out of sight and control? It wasn’t easy to accept the answer; the truth was almost too incredible to believe. I didn’t want to.
But I realized that I was causing the knots in my stomach and the needless fear. Worst of all, by insisting on keeping my sentence of hatred for them, I was giving them continued control over me that they no longer knew anything about. That’s where the anger and determination came from. I decided not to allow them another moment of influence over my emotional pain or my life choices.
To forgive is a decision, not a feeling. The feeling comes in time. At first I thought it was too much like letting my abusers off the hook for what they did. But in time I understood that I was the one suffering, not them. I had no idea what was to come. Again, first I did make a decision to forgive them. I didn’t feel any different toward them or even want to. But I knew my freedom to live a fulfilled life was at stake. Next came relief. I was surprised at the weight of the burden I’d carried for so long. Hatred is a cancer that tortures its host more than it does the one it’s directed to. We’re not created with the ability to carry any kind of evil without it harming us.
The next phase of my decision brought indifference. I don’t know when my hatred left me to make room for apathy. I just discovered it in conversation one day. Once I forgave my tormentors, it became possible to ask God to forgive them. Again, I didn’t want to, but I felt a need to.
In time my prayers took on sincerity. I wanted them changed. I wanted them forgiven. When I experienced the reality of a simple fact and the outcome of a single decision, that’s when I knew that we didn’t have to remain perpetual victims.
Today, I and many others with the same or more difficult pasts are living proof that we can not only overcome the evil done to us but become stronger, more compassionate productive adults because of what we survived.
Today, I miss my mom. Eventually she learned how to express the love she had for us. She kissed us and hugged us often. She told us she loved us every day. Forgiving her opened the door for love to take over and slowly and gently work its way into all our hearts.