Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Biggest Challenge Yet: Doing Something Kind for My Abuser

14 Days of Loving-Kindness: Day 5 - An Act of Kindness for Someone Who Has Hurt Me


Today's challenge is both the act that in many ways prompted this whole concept of 14 Days devoted to Loving-Kindness as part of a promise to myself to focus on Compassion in 2014 and also the act that almost made me forget the whole thing because I wasn't sure that I was ready to do it. 

As a young girl, a boy who was probably 4-5 years older than me, would force me to touch him sexually as I wept. It didn't happen often as the family were friends that we only saw on rare occasions, yet it did happen several times. And it did have a substantial negative affect on me like dark clouds covering a beautiful blue sky. 

During my adolescence and much of my teen years as my body began to "betray me" and insist on its femininity, I would seek out oversized clothes, avoid make-up and basically do all that I could to assure myself that I would not be attractive to anyone of the opposite sex. It terrified me to consider that someone might find me attractive. 

Right before I entered high school, I finally began to confront this abuse and tell others. I am grateful for the church camp I went to that summer, which focused on sex education and sexuality and, finally, gave me the words and courage to speak about what happened to me. It helped me begin to understand that what happened to me was not my fault. I told my family and also began seeing a counselor. 

I realize how complex the situation is. 

Because the abuser was also a child, it felt as if I should just "get over it" and like what happened to me was just a case of kids playing doctor gone awry. However, I knew at my core that it was not. 

I've moved forward as an adult knowing that my molestation experience differs greatly very many (most) victims because the perpetrator was also a minor and yet have also grappled with the profound impact the experience still had on me. Though he was a minor, he was also old enough to be fully aware of what was happening and to clearly see that it was not something that I wanted or enjoyed. 

I've also found myself wondering whether or not he had been abused in a similar way as it seemed to me that no 10-12 year-old would do that to a much younger child if they had not, so this has further complicated things for me --- a victimizer who is also a victim. 

Through therapy and a positive and supportive family and husband, I have come far in my healing process. Rays of sunshine peer through those dark clouds now as I work through those memories. Yet, I knew I needed to take one more step -- a major step. I knew I needed to focus on being able to feel compassion for this person. As someone deeply committed to creating a better world, at my core I believe that everyone deserves compassion, yet the challenge is to truly implement this. 

So I arrived here, challenging myself to demonstrate compassion and show kindness to someone who has hurt me deeply. 

The first step to do this involved learning something about who this person is now and what act might be meaningful to him. Because of the internet this was not hard. A quick google search led me straight to him. 

For the first time in nearly 30 years, I found myself looking at this person. I sobbed uncontrollable for 20 minutes as I stared at the screen. 

Once my sobs ended, I realized what I could do. I wanted to do an act that was anonymous because I am not wanting to confront this person or force him to, perhaps, face his abuse if he is not ready to. I also felt that a public act then inflicts a certain expectation or requirement of him and makes it about me seeking a response rather than about extending compassion. So, I selected a charity I thought would be meaningful to him given his current work, and I made a donation to it. And, of course, the greatest gift of loving-kindness is my effort to move myself several steps closer to true forgiveness for this person. 

I expected to cry as I wrote this post, but I haven't. This demonstrates to me the value of this decision and of this process. More sunshine is bursting through those dark clouds. Maybe someday I'll see a rainbow.


#Compassion2014

Also from The Good Long Road:


Thoughts from a Mama of Boys
Inspired to focus on Compassion
14 Days of Loving-Kindness Begins

20 comments:

  1. I am sorry to hear that this abuse happened to you as a child. It takes tremendous courage to talk about it openly. It also was courageous for you to show compassion to someone who hurt you so much and made a big impact on your life. I am glad the sunshine is coming through the dark clouds and I hope that someday you will see your rainbow.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so sorry this happened to you and I am so inspired that you shared your story. I don't think parents realize how prevalent this situation is. Some CDC research has estimated that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Parents need education and children need to be empowered to speak.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So sorry this happened to you. I know how hard it is to get past something like that; your ability to do something kind for him now is inspirational.

    ReplyDelete
  4. How brave you are to share this with us! I'm glad that this week of kindness has been healing for you but I am so sorry that you have had to endure such abuse as a young girl. I wish I could confront your abuser for you!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your words reveal so much to me about your heart which I find brave, courageous, and forgiving. Your model for compassion is a beautiful example of taking kindness to that place you don't want it go. I am incredibly thankful for this post and will be sharing first with my close friends who have suffered similar abuse, as well as via my social media channels. Thank you again for your vulnerability.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are so brave and so compassionate. Thank you for sharing how you are moving on and helping, despite the pain you have been through.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Forgiveness feels so good, doesn't it? Your courage is inspirational.

    Barbara

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm incredibly proud you not just for writing this post, but for going through the strife it must have taken to get you to this point. Proud isn't the right word, I know, but it is the best one that comes to me. You are a beautiful person on the inside and out and I am love watching you grow through your personal journeys online. You are an inspiration to me and many others. Love you lady.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jennifer, what a brave, brave thing you did. Having gotten to know you through your blog and online the last few years, it doesn't surprise me to read you've made this inspiring step. Thank you for being willing to share your journey with us.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a truly courageous thing to do. Thank you so much for sharing and perhaps empowering others to do the same. Stay brave, stay true, stay kind, stay loving!

    ReplyDelete
  11. So proud of you Jen, for confronting your abuser and for writing this post. You are quite the inspiration for other victims, and I know that these words have touched many! So, so, brave!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. You've taken my breath away. What an amazingly strong and caring soul you are. A really wonderful post.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your journey, this brave junction in the road. Sending good thoughts your way for continued peace- and some rainbows too.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What an inspiring post, Jennifer. I love the gentle compassion with which you approach life. So grateful to know you through your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  15. You are so courageous and inspiring. I am honored to know you. xxx

    ReplyDelete
  16. You are an amazingly strong person, to not only have survived the abuse but to search for him and do a kind act in his name. Your bravery is inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are an amazing person - first to find the strength to talk about it both then and now - and then to do such a wonderful thing as to bless a charity on behalf of someone who hurt you. Sending you a big hug today!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm so sorry you experienced that, Jen. What a beautiful and amazing response! You're such an inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I know we are compelled toward compassion but it's hard to find examples of people doing that with their abusers. In my mid-30s I finally had to ask myself if I wanted to carry the pain and anger around for the rest of my life. And, that's all fine and good, but when we speak publicly many don't have a container to put their own feelings in so they can allow in the understanding of what has occurred. It will take more stories such as your own, more of us walking the path toward laying down pseudo-justice and inviting new models of forgiveness or compassion. As in, the article you posted the other day on Twitter, the 10 Extraordinary Examples of Forgiveness. When we see enough of those models, we-collective-we might be able to walk toward a new future. Much appreciation for you adding your story to the compassion discourse. #Compassion2014 !!!

    ReplyDelete