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