By: Leslie Tolly
It’s Sunday, November 6, 2016, and today, I forgave you. It’s been five years since the last time you physically harmed me. It was time.
When I first sat down to write about my experience, I wrote about what happened. I put on paper every heart-wrenching detail. When it was time for me to go back and finalize this memoir, I couldn’t bring myself to it. I didn’t want to rehash those memories in my mind over and over again.
So, I never finished writing my original piece. Since I started writing, it’s been a process. I felt like I no longer wanted to share with people that I am a domestic violence survivor. I felt like that label was keeping me wrapped up in what happened between us. Instead, I just wanted to bury it.
But today, I felt this pull to go to church. I am not a perfect, every Sunday morning church-attending Christian. I actually only go about once every other month. But this morning, I was guided there for a reason.
After listening to the sermon, I realized those horrid memories would constantly resurface if I did not forgive you. Because when I forgive, I win. Sitting there amongst the church community, I bowed my head. As tears ran down my face, my forgiveness of you, freed me.
I forgave you for the following:
It was just a short two years that we were together, but I look back at pictures of me during that time and see the sadness in my face. I know that my kids felt that. Kids know everything.
I realize when I am happy, my children are happy. I can’t get those years back for them. I can guarantee they will never see their mom unhappy again due to a man.
Today, they are so filled with joy. Today I am showing them a wonderful example of what love should look like and feel like. Today, they have a man in their lives who loves them and treats them as his own. I forgave you.
Over the past several years, when I heard certain songs playing on my iPod, I could see you in my head sitting on a stool, strumming your guitar and singing these tunes. My stomach would turn at those reminders as I would drive my car and listen. I would have to change the song.
But today, I can turn the volume up, sing along, and appreciate those songs for the messages behind them. I can find joy again in the subtle things in life that my mind may connect with a memory of you. Today, I can move on from those memories without bitterness. I forgave you.
I can go out for a girl’s night without any fear or guilt. I no longer have my cell phone in my hand, waiting for a harassing text asking me where I am and why I would want to spend my time with my friends. I am no longer accused of “being out on the prowl” by a jealous man.
I no longer have to keep my eye on the time to make sure I get home before my partner does. Today, I am fully engaged in the evenings well spent with my girlfriends, the conversations we have, and the memories we make. I forgave you.
How I dress is completely up to me. I no longer have to dress to represent another person. I dress to represent myself.
I can put clothes on and know I will not be told I look frumpy or fat. I don’t ask my spouse if he likes what I am wearing. The smile on my face and the look in my eyes is the attire he prefers. I forgave you.
My body is mine. How it is touched and handled should be with love and kindness. I used to look down at the scar on my shin that resulted from your misuse and tear up.
The fear that I felt during those times of physical abuse would come back to me. But today, I see that scar. I thank God every day. I have a man in my life that loves me and every wrinkle, scar, or belly roll I may have.
He kisses my body with tenderness. That scar is confirmation that I am now truly loved. I forgive you.
This morning I heard the following quote by Warren Wiersbe
“The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If we refuse to forgive others then we are only imprisoning ourselves, causing our own torment.”
I realize that some people may not understand why I forgive you. You may not even care or understand yourself. I realize that you have a stain that you will never be able to get rid of.
No matter what good you do in the future, your abuse of me cannot be erased. I feel for you. By forgiving you, I am allowing myself to choose happiness and joy.
I had been a prisoner of your abuse for long after it ended. Today, I released those shackles. I shall pray that all others that you have hurt will find in their hearts forgiveness for you as well.
This is one person’s story of healing and moving on from abuse. This process looks different for everyone. If you have experienced abuse at the hands of a partner or family member or are concerned about someone you know, please call 1-866-834-HELP to speak to a domestic violence advocate near you.