Forgiveness: a concept that is much easier taught than applied. I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, and my heart is full of hurt, anger, betrayal, sadness, and pain. How do I forgive my abuser after all he’s put me through? I am religious, Christian, and I’ve been taught my whole life that to become more like Christ, we need to forgive others, like He forgives us. This just seems so impossible. Even if you are not religious, forgiveness is a principle that should be applied, because forgiving your abuser will help you on your path to healing. In no way am I saying you should forget what happened, or minimize his/hers actions, but to forgive and try your hardest to move on.
The one major source of hurt that my heart and mind keep going back to is the day I gave birth to my child. The whole experience in the hospital was far from what I anticipated. DVP just wasn’t as supportive as I thought he would be. Yes, he abused me while I was pregnant, but I had hoped that, maybe, just maybe, the day of her birth would change his perspective.
That morning, I was being induced, so I was told to be at the hospital at 0600. DVP had complained beforehand about how early it was and asked me if I could reschedule to a later time, which of course, I couldn’t. So, to avoid a fight or feeling more stressed than I already was, I asked my mom to drive me to the hospital. DVP didn’t even seem to care. I hoped he would step in and offer to drive me, as my husband and father to this child, but he was content with letting my mom get up to drive me while he slept in.
A few days before I was induced, DVP complained about having to stay in the hospital for three days. Our midwife had told us that there was a possibility of only two days, so he told me that we were going to leave at two days, not three because he just “wanted to be in our own home with our baby”, when in reality, it was because he wanted to be able to play video games and smoke marijuana. When I told him I wanted to take advantage of three days of recovery in the hospital with nurses that could help me, he said I didn’t need it. So, before DVP arrived, I had to tell my midwife that I was concerned that DVP would try and convince me to leave after only two days of recovery. I asked her to tell him that I must stay for three days. I was embarrassed that I had to do this!
When he did finally arrive, he showed up in his pajamas. Maybe I’m a little picky about this, but I was irritated that he couldn’t put on decent clothes. We were going to have visitors all day and I didn’t want him looking like a bum. So I asked him to go change, and he and his mom argued the whole way home. Not sure of what, but I could already tell that DVP was on edge that day, and the argument was most likely his fault.
The whole time I was in labor, he just laid on the couch next to the bed, leaving uncomfortable chairs for his mother and mine. Yes, he was the father and should be on the couch closest to my bed, but I was irritated that he lounged around and took up most of the seating, by laying when he could have sat and opened up more room on the couch, while our visitors, our closest family members, had either no where to sit or sat in uncomfortable seats. My mom waited on me hand and foot, and he did nothing. He complained about what we were watching, started debates with his mother which ended in lots of tension or her leaving the room for a while to calm down. Later, the nurses and my midwife would tell me that they noticed he was acting like a jerk and was surprised at his behavior.
He did hold my hand during the delivery, and was happy to hold my daughter after she was born. He isn’t completely awful. But, his behavior in the recovery room is what is appalling. We were lucky to have a bigger room, a room that the nurses explained are usually reserved for hospital staff who are recovering from childbirth. DVP got his very own, twin-sized bed that folds out from a couch. Immediately, after getting settled in the room, he unfolded the bed and laid under the covers, even when we had visitors. He wouldn’t turn down the television when visitors came, and made no effort to visit with them. When we were picking a movie to watch, I wanted to watch one thing, and he wanted to watch a comedy that I really didn’t like, but he put on his choice instead of mine.
I had asked him to close the blinds so I could sleep and he said no. Outright refused to get up out of bed to help me out. I slowly and painfully got out of my bed to close the blinds and then of course, he got mad at me for not being patient, like he had just “forgotten” that he just told me he wouldn’t do it. Later, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and as I was eating, for the first time since before having my baby, took it, ignoring my protests, and took a huge bite, which was most of the small sandwich. When I voiced that it upset me, he said that he was much hungrier than me and is a bigger guy so he needs to eat more. Didn’t I just go through this incredibly exhausting experience of giving birth? I guess it didn’t matter to him. I have to mention, too, that this happened in front of my mother. She was appalled. He used to be very careful of what he let other people see of his true nature, but he just didn’t care.
The third day, when I was to be released, I asked him to pick up our things so we could be ready to leave while I showered. When I got out, he hadn’t done anything. He was holding our baby, so I tried not to be irritated, and was hopeful that this was a sign that he cared about being her father. As I was picking up our things, he started bad-mouthing my home state because he just hated living here. He was telling her about all the things she wouldn’t be able to experience because we didn’t live in Big City. This was a constant argument between us. She obviously couldn’t understand a word he was saying and I knew he was saying it to get to me. Having little patience and being exhausted from childbirth, I sternly said, “Stop”, and he lost it.
He went on a rant, telling me I had no right to tell him what he could or couldn’t say to his daughter. He was getting really angry, and was yelling at me, in a raised voice, in the hospital room. I begged him to stop so nobody would hear, and he said he didn’t care. As he got more angry, he told me to jump out the window, to put my head in the toilet to drown myself, that he wouldn’t care if I died, that if I said anything to anyone, he’d take my daughter away from me. If I tried to say anything, he would tell me to shut up. I was so hurt. I had just had our daughter, and he was treating me like this?
He got so mad, that he threw a hand sanitizer bottle at my belly. This whole time, he was holding my daughter. I was worried about him intentionally or unintentionally harming her, so I walked over to him, with my hands outstretched and calmly asked him to give her to me. I didn’t yell, raise my voice, nothing, in fear that he could hurt her if I did. He said no, and grabbed my left palm and dug his fingernails into me as hard as he could. Shocked, I went to my bed and grabbed a towel to wrap on my bleeding hand. It was bleeding more than I expected, and I didn’t know what to do.
At this time, the nurse walked in and saw me crying, holding my injured hand. She asked me what happened, so I told her, and she took my daughter, called security, and wrapped my injured hand in gauze. It doesn’t sound like the injury would be that bad, but he dug his nails so deep that I had scars there for an entire month after it happened. The nurse helped me move to a different room, for my security, and DVP was kicked out of the hospital. As they cleaned out my room, they found a marijuana pipe. He had been sneaking out to smoke, and I had no idea!
Because they found the marijuana, they had to call the police, so I made my second DV report on him. My mom was on her way to come pick me up. While I sat in my new room, alone with my new baby, I sobbed my heart out. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. All I wanted was this fairytale, normal experience of going home with my new child and enjoying my maternity leave with my husband. But all of that was ruined. I knew, at that moment, that I was going to have to divorce him, though it took me two weeks to make that decision final.
I went home with my newborn to my parents and slept on the couch. I have never felt so broken. I hope to never feel this kind of pain again. I can’t find words to describe the hurt I felt. I wish more than anything that I wasn’t getting a divorce and that my daughter could have two parents to love her everyday. Unfortunately, because of my abuser’s choices, I had to do what is best for the safety and welfare of myself and my daughter. He couldn’t even make it without abusing me until we left the hospital. What would he have done with the new, added stress of being a new parent? I am glad I never have to find out.
After all that I have been through, which I still haven’t written all out, I sometimes feel like he doesn’t deserve my forgiveness. He hurt me in the hospital, recovering from childbirth. He almost killed me and my daughter while I was pregnant. Nevertheless, I still have moments where I want to go back to him. Other moments I despise him. It’s a vicious cycle that I go through almost daily. When I look at my sweet daughter’s face, I am reminded that I made the right choice. She will never remember the hurt, the yelling, the abuse, because I left while she was only three days old.
So, how do I forgive him? It’s not easy, and it’s a daily struggle. I’ve realized, though, that the more I hold on to the pain, the longer it takes for me to feel at peace with myself. He doesn’t deserve one more thought from me of him. He doesn’t deserve to cause one more moment of unhappiness on his behalf. I deserve to be happy. How will I ever find happiness if I never forgive myself or him for what I’ve endured?
1- Go through the process of grief. You need to follow this through, before you can learn to forgive. Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. See this article here for descriptions: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/.
2- Forgive yourself. This is important. Remember that everything you experienced was/is not your fault. You are not to blame for his actions. Tell yourself that you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be loved, you deserve to feel peace.
3- Let go of the past. Easier said than done. But, if you can let go, your future will much better, more hopeful, much happier. Don’t let him have any more control over your life than he already has.
There are many more things you can do, and so many articles about forgiveness that I encourage you to seek out. I could spend a lot of time covering this, but this post is already pretty long. Just remember, that it is in your best interest, whether he forgives you or not, or even cares, he doesn’t even have to know, to forgive him and to move on.
I truly believe that God, or Karma, whatever you believe in, will hold him accountable for his actions, even if justice fails, or even if justice is served. Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”. We are strong for standing up for ourselves and putting an end to abuse! We are not weak! I know it’s hard, but forgiving your abuser will help you find inner peace, and help you move on. Not doing so will just keep all that anger and hurt inside for a long time, and can make you more bitter and miserable. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, that’s okay. It takes time. But, I highly encourage you to try!