When we have been deeply marked by trauma and violence, forgiveness is a crucial step in our healing journey. What I have found is that I have a much easier time forgiving my abuser than forgiving myself. Below is my letter of forgiveness and self-compassion. Through the process of both acknowledging my regrets and failures and offering myself grace and forgiveness, I have come to a place of deeper understanding and empathy for myself and others.
Oh, my heart. You have carried the weight of your regret for far too long. I see how you punish yourself, how you hold at arm’s length the joy our Father desires to lavish upon you.
You are afraid to let down your guard. You are afraid to enjoy freedom, lest you should find yourself shackled again.
I hear the voices that judge and condemn you: “You are selfish. You gave up. You are lazy. You took the easy way out. You’re exaggerating. You’re so stupid. No one believes you, everyone thinks you’re a horrible person.”
I hear your anguished cries: “I’m a horrible mother. I should have left sooner! I should have been smarter, I was so blind, so stupid, so foolish thinking I understood him, thinking it was going to be OK. I am weak. I didn’t protect my children well enough, I don’t deserve them now. I can never make up for the pain they have suffered because of my fear. They will never understand the impossible choices I was forced to make.”
My heart, you were strong. You loved in the face of hatred. You chose to be kind in response to contempt and disregard. You chose to believe the best about him, even when he hurt you over and over.
You believed you were fighting for your kids’ future security and stability. You wanted only good things for them. You poured yourself out into your children and your husband day after day. You gave even when you had nothing left.
I see all that you did, and it was beautiful. God saw every tear, He heard every desperate prayer, and He does not condemn you.
Your children are strong and resilient, and God is healing them. It’s okay to mourn what they have lost. You are showing them how to hold joy and sorrow at the same time. You are doing a good job.
Dear one, I know everything you have done: good and bad; wise and foolish, and I do not condemn you. I forgive you for being too scared to leave again. I forgive you for having another talk with him when you should have been talking with the authorities. I forgive you for your blindness, your denial, and your dependence on him. I silence those voices of accusation. No longer will you listen to cruel sneers.
Beloved, you are free. Hold your head high, for you are a warrior.