It is absolutely IMPERATIVE for me to have good men in my world. Without them, I would risk becoming the ultimate man-hater feminist.
While I have had a tough row to hoe when it comes to men, it has not been all bad news. There have been a few key solid men along the way. These are the bright spots that keep hope alive. These men keep me afloat in this “men are dogs” world.
I have had a lot of practice at forgiving men for being less than decent. Ever since I was five years old I have been abused by men.
In fact, I grew up wondering why my Dad never abused me, and I waited often in trepidation for the inevitable day that he would lose his temper and hit me, or just decide to use me as a sex toy. I honestly lived with the thought that it would one day happen. I was never scared of my dad, (beyond a healthy fear when I misbehaved) but because most of the other men in my life were mistreating me, I dared not hope that he was really any better. Dad eventually won me over, and I finally realized that he was never going to intentionally hurt me. Not only that, but he would do everything in his power to protect me against any pain. I think the first time I started to wrap my head around that was when I was about 19.
People often wonder after hearing my stories, how am I even open to possibly trusting a new man?
Beyond having those key solid men in my life, I believe it is because I have truly forgiven the old ones, (the bad apples). I forgive them all. From the family members who raped me as a child to the recent asshole who got my best and gave me his worst in return. Forgiveness enables me to move forward while keeping hope alive. It allows my heart to be willing to see the good in another man. Now don’t get me wrong, it takes a hell of a lot for a new man to get past my first line of defense, but I want to believe that a man is capable of treating me as I deserve. I truly want good men to prevail.
There is a lot of advice and literature out there for people who are trying to figure out how to forgive someone who has done them wrong. I have found my way basically by muddling through, learning as I go. It has been hard to take the advice of counselors who have suggested that I have to tell my abusers how they made me feel. I have only been successful in doing that in my adult relationships. I never managed to tell the ones who hurt me from childhood on. I am still scared to face those demons I guess. But one thing I keep doing with consistency is forgiveness. Some men know it, and some will never know it.
The deeper the hurt, the harder it is to forgive. I truly believe that. So how do you forgive someone who has ripped your heart out, stomped on it and thrown it back in your face? How do you forgive a man who took your innocence, your whole childhood?
You just have to do it. Decide to cut them slack even though you know they don’t deserve it. Forgiveness is not for the deserving, but for those who truly need it. And I can tell you for certain that it keeps THIS victim from becoming a bitter man hater!
It is easy to get caught up in the world of wanting to see justice served. Been there, done that. I hate to see sweet and wonderful people get mistreated, and it happens every day.
But speaking as a “victim” it is very important to realize that we are not always weak, spineless creatures who cannot stand up for ourselves. We all have our own personalities. I know that I am no doormat. I have my own criteria for this, and I set my own boundaries. I believe that while my limits are probably more extreme than many think they should be, this is what works for me. I have to decide for myself when I have been pushed too far. That is MY decision. I do not blame anyone but myself when someone I have trusted breaks my heart. Not even the asshole who just broke my heart into a million pieces. I let him in, and I let him stay. I have to take some responsibility for that.
For the most part I do try to be compassionate to the person who wrongs me, not making excuses for their behavior, but knowing they are just not as strong and wise as I am. They need help, not justice. I cannot help them, and most of the time I don’t even want to. My forgiveness is what I choose to offer them instead.
No, that doesn’t mean we will be friends. That doesn’t mean you get a free pass back into my exciting world. It means I am not allowing you to ruin another minute of my life. I have told men exactly this: You hurt me. I think you are an asshole. I hope you are sorry, because I didn’t deserve what you did to me. But even if you’re not, I forgive you anyway.
Forgiveness is a choice, just like courage is a choice, happiness is a choice, commitment is a choice. If we choose to wrestle our demons, we will ALWAYS win! After all, we are only fighting against ourselves. We are in charge of our own destiny.
Forgiveness allows the wound to slowly heal,
cultivated by the soothing balm of hope
for better days ahead
until finally, I ascend –
like a Phoenix rising from the ashes,
Trusting evermore, there is one who is worthy.