• Written by admin
  • March 29, 2019 at 8:07 pm
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  • When the punch line of a joke is delivered with bad timing, it’s just not funny. Forgivable, but not funny. When forgiveness is suggested before its time to a survivor of sexual trauma, that’s not funny either. And sometimes, it feels like the next thing to get over in a very long list of things to get over. This suggestion for forgiveness could be considered a rookie move or a move from a well-meaning person who really wants to help but doesn’t have a clue, the time or the energy. Or, it could be a person like me who isn’t a rookie, who really wants to help and HAS a clue, sometimes the time and sometimes the energy… but forgets.

    James Safechuck was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey at the end of the audience viewing of Leaving Neverland, an HBO documentary about Michael Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse of children. James is one of the men highlighted in the film and he had this to say about forgiveness:

    “Forgiveness is not a line that you cross. It’s a road that you take.”

    James Safechuck came to the place of forgiveness in his own time. His path remains tricky and complicated by adoring MJ fans. And he stands in full view of people so blinded by their adoration of Michael the pop star, they refuse to see Michael the broken human. And James will heal in spite of that.

    James. Heal in spite of that.

    Sometimes, I forget what it’s like to be so angry about the actions of my father that I had to scream until I broke blood vessels in my neck. Sometimes, I forget that after my second surgery to remove cancer from my body and with staples still holding my belly together, I beat a wooden lawn ornament with a hockey stick. The lawn deco and my deceased father couldn’t know the depth of my rage. The stick broke and I was too winded to continue so I stopped the flogging. The healing priority was the psychic and cognitive injury.

    The healing priority was the psychic and cognitive injury.

    My heart and soul grappled with the absurdity of the intrusions inflicted on my tiny body. In that moment, rage needed an expression. I was aware of my rage and I was aware of the source of my rage. It made sense to unleash it consciously so as not to indirectly harm any humans. If someone at that moment suggested that I forgive my father, I—and they—would have been grateful that at my core, I am a pacifist.

    I am reminded that when I forget, or I don’t notice social cues, my uncensored enthusiasm about the possibility of a fully claimed and joyful life can also land on a sexual trauma victim like an airplane landing in a hurricane. Someone is getting knocked in the head with falling luggage and I am the pilot over the intercom saying “Don’t worry folks. We have everything under control.”

    When it comes to society’s thoughts and beliefs about the path of the sexually traumatized, it isn’t generally spoken about from the viewpoint of healing. Society has ideas about not believing the story, the timing of the telling and about the severity of the footprints sexual trauma leaves on a life. Society has been stuck in a loop of unexamined collective beliefs and hideous timing for a really, really, really long time.

    An example of a public display of societal think tank regarding a victim’s experience is the Kavanaugh hearings. If we didn’t watch the Kavanaugh hearings, we heard about them. This is not the forum for politics. I am speaking to the cause and effect on victims. It was a disaster for Dr. Ford. Her family had to hire private security because of death threats.

    Death threats. Private security.

    Dr. Ford, a brain researcher and survivor of sexual trauma, attempted to educate the divided viewing public about the effect of trauma, about the effect of every brain on trauma. Some viewers had first-hand experience and KNOW that pain, they KNOW that pain and while she showed up, being attacked every day, they/we also felt the moral injury. For the women in our collective practice, it caused shrinking and regression. The opportunity to heal was harnessed, but the loudspeaker from the inexperienced, opinionated public was deafening. Justice was not having its day. Privately, when doing the screaming and the lawn ornament beating, when walking the path of healing, it’s possible that the intersection of Moral injury, Justice and Forgiveness appear on a public stage. And so many who are afraid to speak about their trauma see their worst fears realized: Society, screaming from the cockpit and not the cabin: “Don’t worry folks. We have everything under control.”

    Publicly I want to say: I forgive the patriarchy, I forgive society, I forgive the Catholic Church, I forgive Michael Jackson’s fan club, I even forgive myself sometimes, and I forgive my father.

    I forgive my father.

    My children and grandchildren have grown with me. It hasn’t been easy. I ask for forgiveness whenever I don’t notice their pain. When they are able, the full blessing of my philosophy of LOVE WINS adds to my obnoxious enthusiasm.

    I came into forgiveness on my own terms. Sometimes, my body does a recall that was hidden deeply by the need to survive. During those times, I visit rage again. Practice has changed this experience, and I have not had the need to hit inanimate objects for quite some time.

    To anyone who is on the path of healing from sexual trauma—I respect your journey. Please forgive me when I am blinded by the embodied joy of my freedom. Please forgive me when I forget and for that moment, when I don’t see your pain. You have a right to be seen and to be heard.

    Perhaps, the road to healing and paved by your tears, your screaming and your released rage might be marked by your own turn toward forgiveness. And timing. It’s ALWAYS your choice.

    Moral injury, Justice and Forgiveness are sitting at a bar…


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