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Forgiveness article in Behind the Fake Smile

Excerpt from the book, “Behind Tear-Stained Eyes.”

Chelsea got up at a seminar to speak. She struggled to accept this speaking engagement because she had a fear of public speaking, and the entire topic of domestic violence was a hard one for her to speak about. It was emotional, humiliating, and she had to be very vulnerable, which was not a comfortable place for her.

She browsed the crowd to see many survivors, and others that she could tell were still struggling to get out of a bad relationship. A feeling that she knew well.

She felt her heart race and her hands shake as she began to speak, “This is my own personal experience, and it is not to say others do not experience things differently or feel differently. I wanted to caveat that before I begin on what I am ready to tell you.”

“I was in love. In my eyes, this was not any ordinary man. He was the man that I had trusted, loved, supported, and cherished. He was very charismatic, but as our relationship progressed, so did his temper. Like many survivors in this room, nobody quite understands why you stay, why you would allow it, and why you are weak.”

“I, personally, am well educated, good career, self-sufficient, and loving. I kept thinking, who could ever hurt me? Who would ever want to hurt me? I’m a loyal person, and I’m secure. Well, that strength had to be proven. It was as though my emotions started to melt. I describe it as being similar to being frozen, I stopped feeling emotions. I suppressed them as though accepting them was too painful to accept or feel. My family and friends had no idea what was happening. I remained frozen as a type of armor. If nobody could see the armor, then nobody could use it as a weapon to hurt me.”

“I felt that anytime I trusted myself to fall in love, then my gut was betrayed, manipulated, and deceived. I was almost as though I was not worthy of love and respect. I realized that I couldn’t trust in trust in my instincts.”

“I knew not to trust my judgment, but at that time, I was in too deep. I wanted to believe people’s hearts were pure and loving like mine. I had never understood what love was, and I’d never seen it for myself in a man. People have said that they loved me, but I don’t think they ever knew me to love me. They loved the thought of me, but they certainly didn’t love me. I’ve never felt true love. Reciprocal love. A love that surpasses all.”

“It was time for me to heal and focus on myself. To not leave love in other people’s hands, but to love myself the way that I deserved. It was time for me to remove the toxic and create a safe haven. It also was time for me to forgive. Not only the violent men or those that had done me wrong. Of course, I needed to forgive them, but the forgiveness I needed the most was to forgive myself.”

“I needed to understand myself more. I needed to know why subconsciously I needed acceptance from sociopaths, pathological liars, and narcissists. I had to learn why it was easier for me to help a broken person than to heal broken pieces within me. I realized that for myself, as their issues appeared more significant, it was easier for me to be the helper and focus on them. Concentrating on them was more comfortable than focusing on me and my problems. I couldn’t easily find my own problems, but the types I attracted were victims and could tell you their woes immediately.”

“Clearly, this method has not gone well for me, but I came to understand it. I came to realize that I was avoiding looking into my own deep-rooted issues and flaws. I’m not saying abusers have the right to ever abuse anyone because I think that is the most disgusting thing a human can do, but I am saying that I needed to forgive myself and love myself enough to make a clean break. I no longer fill the void in my soul by rescuing and helping another broken soul.”

Abused Woman
“The constant chaos and drama denied me the stillness necessary to reveal my own damaged inner self. I went from one horrible relationship to the next. I went to them for a distraction, but my heartfelt love. It was an effective anesthetic. There was the familiarity of a broken soul that made me feel whole.”

“I’m sure you are thinking. Get to the point Chelsea, where does forgiveness come in? Actually, that was easy for me. I realized that it was not about forgiving others that did me wrong. It was okay to remain angry and vacillate on forgiving them, it was more important that I forgive me. I wasn’t to blame. I didn’t provoke it or bring it on myself. No-one deserves violence against them. I could forgive myself because, after all, it wasn’t my fault. You can stay in that victim area for a little while, but not too long. You are a survivor, and that is what I want you to think of it. You are not a victim, and you don’t want to be in that space. You are a survivor and want to help other survivors and those that are ready to survive.
When you accept it wasn’t your fault, then it is time to start on healing the hate, bitterness, and hurt over those that did you wrong. Don’t allow the individual to have any more control of you. Anger and hatred are control over you. You are worthy of something amazing.

I understand that he still feels enormous bitterness towards me for leaving him, and although I go back and forth on my feelings for him. I usually stay on the emotion of feeling sorry for him. I’m grateful for the lesson that he taught me. He made me take a long hard look at myself and my own self-worth. I am a better person today for that lesson. Thank you for allowing me to put my thoughts into words,” Chelsea said as the crowd stood to applaud her. She nodded, smiled, and sat next to the organizer in the group.

“That was an amazing opportunity,” she told the organizer.

“I definitely needed your words. We all learned from your speech, and I had quite a few compliments. Thank you for sharing your story.”

Chelsea smiled and said, “You are welcome. Thank you for letting me reflect and focus on my feelings and vulnerability.”

I’m glad that talk is over. Public speaking is worse than dying in my eyes.

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