Healing – Day 1: To Forgive Or Not To Forgive…

…That Is The Question.

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my journey is that forgiveness isn’t always necessary. It’s not THE critical component in moving forward. Context is important here, so let me share a bit of my story (I’ll try to do the Reader’s Digest condensed version):

If you’ve read much of my blog, or my “About” page, you know I was molested by my father when I was three years old. I worked for many years on healing – on ridding myself of rage, panic attacks, flashbacks, anxiety, depression. I began a journal. I worked with clay. I prayed. I talked to my Cantor, Beth Levin – my spiritual advisor. I insisted that I needed to forgive my father, or I wouldn’t truly be healed. I didn’t want to carry the burden of incest forward with me. I thought the only way to leave it behind was forgiveness.

Finally, Beth suggested that I talk to our Rabbi, Rim Meirowitz. Rim is truly a brilliant Rabbi (now retired, but just as brilliant as ever). We sat down in his office, and I briefly told him my tale, and about my quest for forgiveness toward my father. Rim looked askance at me, and asked me one of the most important questions I’ve ever been asked: “Why do you have to forgive him?” I tried to explain my reasoning. new-years-resolution-for-collaborative-innovationHe shook his head a bit, and said, “What your father did was terrible. It was unforgivable. Now, let’s talk about resolution.”

As quickly as that, my life shifted. Really, truly shifted. I didn’t have to forgive my father. I could still heal. I wasn’t bound to a life of guilt for not being generous enough of spirit to let my father off the hook for his actions. My father had died many years earlier, so I could not confront him face-to-face. I did, however, have many long conversations with his ghost.

Rim and I went on to talk about resolution and letting go. It was one of those AHA! moments that comes along too rarely. When you understand something in a completely different way. A profound way. A life altering way.

That conversation, for me, allowed me to jump forward in my healing process. To shift my inner struggle into the manageable. The achievable. The resolvable.

About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Medford, MA, part time with my 11 year-old daughter and full time with our dog, Toast, and our cats, Samson and Hercules.
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