Best-Of Advice

On forgiveness

I’m 27 years old and have decided to take control of my life.

At age sixteen repressed memories of my brother, who is five years older than me, molesting me came rushing back and the confident, outgoing, happy-go-lucky girl I used to be was taken over by someone who lived in a fear of men so constant that I gained 80 pounds in a year, and made myself into “the friend” so no guy would ever want to sleep with me. My plan worked so well that I had my first kiss at age 19 on the last night of my freshman year of college with my best friend.

I took a year off of college to go overseas and had a great friend there who helped me do a lot of emotional healing. I lost the weight. I trusted men. I was happy. I was ready to date at 24.

I spent that summer in paradise where I fooled around with a guy for a month. He claimed that I was so good at blowjobs that there was no way I could be a virgin. One morning he ignored me refusing him, insisting that I was a virgin, and raped me.

I got therapy for it and thought I was fine. I was carefully promiscuous and had a lot of fun, but recent introspection has led me to believe that I was simply operating at the other end of the spectrum than when I was 16, but this time the glimmers of the happy-go-lucky girl I used to be made a lot of guys think I was their dream girl, if only for one night.

I finally found a guy who seemed worth sticking around when I was 25. He lives in the UK and I live in The States, so while we dated for two years we were only physically together for two weeks. He had two kids with a woman he was with for 11 years. In the past month I’ve come to accept that there is an extremely high chance that I was The Other Woman, no matter what he told me at the time.

I don’t trust men who pursue anything beyond friendship. I do not trust happiness. I do not believe I deserve good things, but I think I’m finally healing at the root of all these problems. The issue now is that I’ve never had a guy NOT whispering what I should do in my ear. It’s always been easier to obey them (no matter how confident and in control of myself and the situation I always *seem*) than figure out what I really want. I’m in school, get great grades and am really going to excel in my field, but even that I pursued because of the English boyfriend “motivating” me.

I’m ready to be empowered from me and me alone, I’m just not sure how to go about it.

 

Empowered. I hate that word. It pretends to define a state of strength, and yet it demands a passive voice. To be empowered? That’s bullshit.

Your problem is that you’re “ready to be empowered” instead of simply being powerful.

You’ve got a strong mind and high intelligence. It’s how you managed to process so much of your situation thus far. Your previous therapy armed you with the coping skills to do quite a bit of healing and introspection, but you’ve still got a shit ton of resentment and fear.

It’s gut-level stuff, and those kinds of emotions are really tough for the rational mind to fully digest.

Despite your intelligence, you don’t trust your gut. Your instincts have always been wrong and you blame them, so you take shelter in your head to the exclusion of your heart.

Now, it seems, you’re ready to start living in your heart, and maybe even trusting in your gut. Problem is, they’ve atrophied. You’re looking to your own heart for guidance and noticing that it’s three sizes too small, which of course only adds to the resentment you feel. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. It poisons you emotionally, and you can’t think your way out.

So, what’s the trick that will stop the cycle and get you living in your heart? As far as I can tell, there’s only one thing that’ll do it.

Forgiveness.

Forgive your brother. Forgive your rapist. Forgive all of the men who fucked you over.

It doesn’t matter whether they deserve it. It’s for your sake, not theirs. Find a way. Take the time. Dig deep, and truly forgive them.

It’s such a powerful thing to forgive. Real power, not empowerment.

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