How We Learn To Deal

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. ~Bernard Meltzer

North Setting Sun

Twenty-two years ago today I was held up at gun point. To this day I almost never carry cash. I keep my car doors locked. I watch my back and am vigilant about my surroundings. When I must go out alone this time of year, I don’t even carry a purse.

The point is violence changes a person. Or, it changed me. At first I was distrustful, frightened, and on heightened alert.  I needed to talk about my ordeal. And I talked and I talked. I had been violated, and I needed to feel validated. I was physically unscathed, but emotionally damaged. I wallowed in my worry. It took me many more years than I’d like to admit to rise from victim to victor.

This was a decision I had to make on my own. Once I made the decision I had to take the steps to begin to heal. No one could do the work for me. I stopped taking medication for the anxiety. I let myself feel all the emotions running through me, and I learned techniques (breathing and visualization) to get me through panic attacks. I took a self-defense class and other precautions to help me feel in control of my personal space.

You may think from my first paragraph I have not arrived to this point, that I have not let the ordeal go. I have. You see it’s all a part of the forgiven but not forgotten theory which is one I’ve struggled to understand. I have always believed when someone said, “I forgive you, but I have not forgotten.”  that they were not being truthful. (My grandmother was famous for this.) I get it now. I forgive my assailant, but I have not forgotten the lesson she taught me. Being vigilant is my coping mechanism to keep me safe. Being aware helps me trust my instincts as well. I may not always be out of harm’s way, but I try not to recklessly place myself there.

Whatever choices we make in life come with consequences in which we must learn to deal. I dealt in my own way, piecing my life back together. I’m sure my attacker did the same. I only hope she learned to make better choices.

If “Tanya” is still alive, she should be about forty now. Whether she regretted her actions I will probably never know.  Regardless of her reasons behind the hold up, I hope she got a second lease on life. I hope she is free of whatever demons possessed her that day. I hope drugs and violence are no longer a part of her life. I hope she found the skills and support she needed to live a legal and loving life.

The last step of my healing is forgiveness. For some reason, that was never an option before now. But like I said earlier, I’ve changed. Today, I am finally able to say I forgive her. Merry Christmas to me.  Yes, to me…forgiveness is much more for the person releasing than the person to whom is being forgiven.

****I won’t be posting, visiting, or commenting until after New Years.

46 thoughts on “How We Learn To Deal

    • I honestly couldn’t remember if it was the 16th or 18th…I knew the year and that it was a Wednesday, exactly one week before Christmas so I consulted a calendar.
      Merry Christmas to you, Georgette.

  1. Beautifully said…..I’ve often had to pray to “want to forgive” before I could get to sincere forgiveness. And I love that you define “not forgetting” as lessons to be learned; how true! Merry Christmas!

    • Sometimes it takes something within ourselves to shift in order to allow forgiveness to enter. I used to be a grudge holder…I’m so much healthier and happier once I let things go.

  2. What a powerful post! I’m sure that was a horrific experience and would certainly change a person. Your ability to forgive and rise above victimhood is a testimony to your faith and strength. You are one strong woman! I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. May your holidays be blessed with all good things. xoxox

    • That’s kind of you to say, Lisa, but I don’t think I’m stronger than anyone else…we simply do what our souls guide us to do, and we are empowered to do what we need.

  3. Merry Christmas to YOU! What a terrific present to give yourself:

    When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. ~Bernard Meltzer

    I am quick to forgive and SLOW to forget.
    Once bitten, twice shy.

  4. How frightened you must have been! I’m glad you escaped bodily harm and are now able to forgive your attacker. Enjoy your time off — here’s hoping you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

  5. Awesome words of wisdom. Holding on to resentment and fear only hurts the one holding them (or more so than the one being forgiven). Still struggling with the forgiveness thing in some aspects and I know I’m only hurting myself. Maybe I’m just not ready to let go yet or not mature enough…. Love you.

  6. Merry Christmas! That is a beautiful gift you have given yourself and the person who taught you a lesson. I think giving up anger and hurt to peace and prayer is always the better option (although very hard to do). I hope she found a better path. I love this photo!

  7. I am still unconvinced that foregiveness is the accurate way to describe what the wisest course is. One should rise above the seething resentment and hatred which can poison one’s whole outlook, but towards the individual ‘not forgetting’ is not enough. One cannot simply say, ‘I do not bear any ill-will for what you did’. The ideal is, though, to have that feeling reduced to something unemotional and rational.

    • I’m not here to convince you. Each must make decisions based on their own lives…what works for one might not work for another.
      I’m not saying my life was not altered by this event. It was in many ways. Though it was a roundabout route, I like where I’ve landed…because of it I’ve met people who’ve become important mentors in my life. I have a stronger spiritual life. Most of all I don’t take life for granted. I have slowed down and appreciate the simplicity of life.
      People forgive things all the time I can’t begin to understand, but it’s their journey not mine. We can’t honestly say what we’d do unless we’ve walked in their shoes.
      No, verbalizing forgiveness is not enough, but when it comes from the heart the rest (feelings) have worked themselves out.

      • I do get the feeling, though, that foregiveness should have a reason such as repentance or ‘they know not what they do’. Otherwise the offender can enjoy the free removal of one of the consequences of wrongdoing, to their detriment.

  8. I am so sorry that happened to you. You are stronger than you know, Suzicate. You overcame something that some people never do. Keeping tension and anger for years hurts us, not the person who caused the anger. I wish you and Charles and Wylie and the boys peace, fun, joy and harmony this holiday season.

  9. I’m glad you were able to gain some control and are finally able to forgive. That is a great Christmas present, indeed. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your time ‘offline’ 🙂

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