How Long Do We Have To Punish The Guilty Until We Feel Better About Their Choices?

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately, and my behavior when I get angry and stressed out because someone has done or said something to trigger me.

It happened tonight actually, I had a massive panic attack that lasted about fifteen minutes, I screamed, I yelled, and I cried about how much I hate men. Like a genuine, grotesque homicidal fantasy, kind of way, not that I’d ever act them out, I write about them and put them into stories that I will eventually use in my fiction blog. But the point is that the reason that I was angry at men in that moment was purely because of the things they had done to me.

It’s a long list of vile, vicious, bordering on evil, behavior that affected me in ways I am still learning to discover. It’s twisted everything about me from the way that I write to the clothes I wear to the behaviors that I utilize to keep myself safe.

The pandemic has really fed into my paranoia, giving me an excuse to hide from the world at my whim. Yes I am on social media a lot but at any moment that I decide I can shut down the computer, turn off the television, and hide from the world without a single person in the universe knowing what I am doing.

A lot of the new behaviors and panic disorders that I am dealing with are a direct result of what was done to me, and the choices that other people made that affect my life. Also because of the choices that I made, that helped me survive what I went through.

When I look back at those years, I feel like I was surrounded by enemy soldiers at any given time, people were trying to ruin me either by abusing me, bullying me, or saying shit about me behind my back without actually talking to me, about who I was as a person.

There were very few people who knew what was going on in my head, and even those people eventually found reasons to walk away, or I did. None of who I am today would exist without my abusers – that isn’t a thank you, it’s an acknowledgement that I am a completely different person then I would have been if I hadn’t been abused.

So do I thank the people that hurt me? Do I say “yeah I like who I am, but I wouldn’t be here without you so thanks a lot for treating me worse then you’d treat a dog?” I don’t think so.

I think that I am justified in my anger, I think I am justified in my fantasies, I think I am justified in wishing that I really were a superhero who could fight the bad guys and make the bad things dissapear. But I am not, I am a woman dealing with mental health issues doing everything she can to hold onto her very dim grip on reality.

I am doing everything I can every single day to just get from one day to the next, hoping that each new day will be better then the old one.

I wouldn’t have to be this way if I wasn’t abused – but that feels like an excuse. That feels like I’ve given up on myself, and in a very real way I kind of have. I am so tired all the time, like bone tired, like the tired is never going to go away. Part of this is because I desperately need an iron shot, but the doctors just keep telling me to take iron pills, which don’t fucking talk, and not just because I don’t always take them. But because they do other things to my body that feel wrong and uncomfortable.

I don’t want to be grateful to my abusers, but I also don’t want to hate them forever, so when am I going to get to a place where I can forgive them? I used to say that forgiveness helps you move on, but is that true? If I decide to forgive them for their choices, actions, and behaviors, does that mean that I am suddenly going to feel better?

What if they feel genuinely bad about what they did? What if in my heart of hearts I believed that they actually cared about the person they were when they abused me? Is that enough? Do their feelings of guilt and shame for doing what they did outweigh my feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, and the depressing belief that because I am trying to forgive them, that I somehow wanted it?

I know there was no physical, emotional, or spiritual part of me that wanted to be raped, but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I must have asked for it, because otherwise why would it happen? And that’s the crutch of it.

I don’t know why I out of everyone in the universe was chosen to go through the things that I went through, and while I am trying to understand, the lack of a motive is frustrating, and makes me believe that perhaps I will never know, and I don’t know how to accept that.

I don’t want to talk to my abusers, I don’t want to see them, because I don’t think I am strong enough, and knowing that I wouldn’t get through meeting them without being triggered makes me feel weak and small, which is how they made me feel when they abused me.

The idea of being forced to face them makes me sick to my stomach, largely because know that I am going to want to going them and make them feel small and ugly and hurt the way they made me feel, I know that I have that kind of darkness in me, because we all do.

Every single human on earth has the power to hurt other people, but the thing that separates us is the fact that we also have the choice not to.

The last time I went to a party I was hit over the head with something, drugged, beaten, and raped for hours. I will probably not go to a party for a very long time, if ever again, largely because I’ll have flashbacks and I won’t be able to trust that I will be safe.

For the rest of my life, I will be thinking first and foremost about my safety and the safety of those I love because of what was done to me.

So as others have before, don’t ask me to forgive. Don’t tell me that it’s going to make me feel better. Don’t tell me that the pain is suddenly going to stop one day and that things are going to be better as I get older and wiser.

Because the truth of it is that it’s not about whether or not I forgive them, it’s about whether or not they can forgive themselves. It’s about whether or not they can decide to make different choices in the future that are enhancements to their lives and the lives of those in their community around them.

I can’t say that I will never forgive people, but what I can say is that forgiveness is going to show up when it decides to show up and there is nothing in the world that I can do to change that.

All I can do is remember that whether or not there were things I could have done in my past, there are certainly things that I can do now that will prevent it from happening again.

I have tools and skills now to deal with my anger, my anxiety, my depression, and my fear that I didn’t have before. I am grateful for that, and to the guardians, friends, followers, and fans, who remind me every day that I am much stronger than I feel internally.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

Author: Devon J Hall

Devon J Hall is a thirty-eight-year-old Writer and Author from Surrey, British Columbia by way of Calgary Alberta. She lives with three cats, one mother, and is addicted to coffee, cigarettes, and weed, not necessarily in that order.

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