Something I’ve been grappling with lately is forgiveness- how we can enter into this process with the best intentions at heart and still not have it work out. Why do we offer forgiveness? Out of necessity, obligation, to absolve another’s guilt or our own? Is there an authentic version of forgiveness that is non linear, that is more of a journey than a sudden decision? It can be hard to move through the remains of a situation without recalling those who were instrumental in creating it and wishing to admonish them. Do we forgive to bring ourselves a much needed sense of peace or do we forgive to let bygones be bygones?
Whichever it may be, one thing stands. Some models of forgiveness take longer than others, require things of you that you weren’t prepared to give. That’s tough. In a way, I think it depends on how much we truly believe another person deserves our forgiveness. Have they offered a meaningful, actionable apology? On the contrary, do they refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing and believe that a mere apology is a form of accountability?
Sometimes you just don’t have it in you to offer forgiveness at any given time and that’s alright. In this case, I like to turn inward, shine a light on my own inner healing process and give it all up to God. Maybe I am not in the place to gift somebody else redemption because I am still reeling from my own wounds. Our creator, however, knows justice most intimately, just as he does rising above, feet on a higher ground.
Some of you may remember that a resolution of mine was to tackle my trauma this year. To rattle the cage, prise the bars apart and finally set myself free from an unhealthy cycle of past negativity. Easier said than done but I’m willing to commit the necessary time and work towards a less inhibited, gentler and more innocent adult version of myself. This is, undoubtedly, an undertaking best eased into. I am familiar with no such way, however. I took it upon myself to begin working through shame, guilt and questions I have left over from the sexual assault I suffered a few years ago. I reached out to my rapist and let spill all that was playing on my mind. I asked him why I couldn’t remember significant chunks of that day. I asked if he made a spur of the moment decision to force himself on me or if it was planned. I asked for the truth. For an honest retelling of that hour in time, only through his eyes. Apologies from him flooded my inbox thick and fast but they lacked genuineness and that’s what hurt the most. Eventually, I asked my most pressing question. Why did he do it? Was it repressed resentment and anger at my lack of willingness to be his girlfriend? He didn’t beat around the bush, telling me he was stupid, dumb and jealous. He craved closure and relief from his struggles, even those outside of what he felt was wrong with our friendship. “I loved you,” he tells me, “and you didn’t feel the same.”
It was an answer I’d expected all along yet I still reeled at the way he dared to warp love. To claim he had too much to give only for me to be unreceptive. He told me I was harsh, abrasive, picky and unfair. He claimed that he knew me better than I did myself and tried his hardest to turn the tables in his favour. Later that night, I spoke to my partner about the encounter we’d had and he let me know that he wished to write a letter to my rapist. Throughout this year and a half long ordeal, what I’d failed to consider was the implication my personal battles would have on the people who hold me nearest and dearest. Fresh waves of emotion surged in me each time my eyes would skim over a sentence and absorb the meaning each word held. I watched my partner go through the five stages of grief over and over again. I told him I hadn’t realised he felt this way and he claimed he didn’t either. As he wrote, more became clearer. It was tough to realise that he felt as if the young woman he knew had died that day. That milestones and first times in our relationship had been stolen from us.
It was, however, a way to heal alongside my support group. My partner, circle of friends, family. I hope at some point to ask each person who was equally touched and impacted by the situation to write a letter to my rapist. He may never read them but it’s a powerful way to process and get in touch with emotions too painful to speak out loud. For a lot of my loved ones, it may be incredibly difficult to come to terms with and too big of an ask which I respect completely. For them it hits too close to home and they shut off, unable or unwilling to access their truest emotions. Instead, they brush over what happened and try their best not to acknowledge it. For the first few months post ordeal, I did the same. Over time though, those feelings crystallised and they became gritty like sand. You struggle to blink, to keep your eyes open, to stretch your fingers, spread your palms, open your mouth without it feeling as if your throat would constrict. It became too much to hold in.
I wouldn’t say it was an unpleasant part of my week as much as it was a necessary one. Those tough conversations were not pretty and I took myself on many long walks to the local lake scheme and explored the nearby streets whilst deep in thought. It helped to be out and about and admiring the many beautiful aspects of creation restored my faith. Once again I began to feel small compared to the grandness of my surrounds. I turned to worship music and tuned out for a while, the soothing words of Lauren Daigle filling time and space, drowning out white noise and the pounding in my head. In general I’ve dealt with a lot of mixed emotions this week. I’ve felt incredibly fulfilled, grateful, satisfied and amazed at how far I’ve come in such a short time. I also felt burnt out though and let my mind play anxiously over unanswered text messages, looming deadlines and the fear of failure. It saw me come to a halt in a sense. I didn’t stop playing, working and trying to strike that healthy balance but a part of me gave in to how inevitable it felt that something would go wrong. There has been a lot of newness to get used to and I’m struggling to form a routine whilst continuing to show up in the ways I normally would.
My three hour days, three times a week at college are very manageable but travelling back and forth for just over two hours each time has taken its toll on me. I don’t mind a lengthier car ride in the morning when I’m adjusting to being awake and preparing myself for the day but once the afternoon rolls around, I’m ready for a snooze at home. My grandma and I are thinking that we’ll use toll roads on the Wednesday afternoon that we drive back up to the Blue Mountains from college. I had my first lot of assignments this week and it was madness. I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been despite doing major components of the work alongside the others in my class. I’d taken notes there, completed drawings. It was a matter of paraphrasing chunks of text, formatting, compiling a bibliography and so on. I uploaded my first assignment without a hitch but experienced difficulty with the second, barely making the deadline. I hadn’t use this particular system before and was told that I could submit a few documents at a time. Alas, that was not the case. I also couldn’t edit submissions. Billy Blue College is incredibly particular with format and naming of documents to the point that it could affect readability and definitely reflects in your overall marking should you not pay attention to this. Had some struggles there, I will admit. On a positive note, my dad helped me to set up my laptop with our printer and scanner and I picked up some tricks along the way that will definitely come in handy next time.
While this week was nothing if not a mixed bag, I had my fair share of lighthearted moments too. On Wednesday I discovered that the shopping centre near my college campus has a food court with all my favourite takeaways, including my favourite Sumo Salad- they have such delicious gourmet options. I got the mixed leaf pesto chicken salad with feta, avocado, walnut and a small portion of a creamy pasta as they didn’t have enough of my first pick to fill the box. It was topped with an incredible lemon mayo that had just the right amount of tang. This week I also received word about parcels I’d been waiting on and had some gifted items arrive in the mail, one of which I’ve shared on my Instagram page already. Beyond that, I began sleeping in my room full time this week. Still on the floor as my bed frame is at the apartment in Parramatta but, otherwise, I’m incredibly comfy and have been living it up. Linen is a perfect in between fabric when you simply can’t dictate what the weather will be like.
This weekend was easygoing and pleasant. I stopped in at my local Big W and picked up lots of goodies. For my American Friends, it’s basically another Target. Although, we have that actual store here as well. They had the cutest selection of boho earrings and I was able to find the books I had my eye on. I chose two, the first being Home Body by Rupi Kaur and the second being The Collective Hub’s Ultimate Social Media and Marketing Journal. I take my craft seriously but have been wanting to up the ante recently and tap into some lesser known secrets. Most of the knowledge we require is within already, just waiting for us to tap into it with the right questions. On that note, I’ve been thinking that it may finally be time to explore the world of Tik Tok. I don’t like the thought much and care little for the platform but if it helps me reach a whole new audience and break out of this mould of small blogger, what is there to lose?
Anyhow, I digress. On Saturday night, my Grandma and I picked up a chicken pizza and sat down to watch a show. I’m currently a few episodes into Ginny and Georgia on Netflix. It’s quite different. Lots of subtler and more significant themes to the show that I’m interested to see how they handle. Hopefully with tact and sensitivity as it concerns race, privilege and so on. Then there was Sunday, day of rest. Not so familiar with that anymore but the first half of my day went well. I had a family party on to celebrate my second cousin’s first birthday. She is a little sweetheart and really brightened up my mood. As always, I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from Morgan Harper Nichol’s weekly series. This one is about feeling worthy of your journey and is beautiful and touching as always. Sending lots of love and light to you my friends. May you walk in it this week!
When you feel overwhelmed by who you are not, I hope you can remember who you are. I hope you are able to see that beyond all of the things you were told you couldn’t be, you are radiant with strength and beauty. And all along, Light has been shining through you, even in your most uncertain, shadowy seasons. Through everything, you have risen every day, and you have carried on, even when you were afraid. This is not a coincidence. This is a beautiful truth, wrapped in grace. All along, you have been strong. All along, you have been more capable than what you ever imagined.
You live in a world that is quick to remind you of what you need to improve: how you can be smarter, richer, prettier, how you can prevent ageing, how you can acquire more things. Even when you give your all to look beyond these messages, it takes so much willpower to resist them and it is far too easy to still feel overwhelmed.
But more than you worry about what you need to improve about yourself, may you turn your attention to what you can ignite within yourself: the fire that has always been in you, to do things that speak to you, no matter how unpopular or seemingly ordinary they may be.
You do not have to go out of town on a retreat to be reminded of what matters (this can be very fulfilling, but not required!). Right here, right now, you can start to remember who you are and cultivate gratitude for what you have.
First, look at your input. What entertainment are you consuming that makes you feel like you should have more? What relationships in your life are taking more out of you than they give? What time of day do you exhaust the most energy and what can you start to change? You might not be able to make every change right away, but give yourself permission this week to go on the journey of remembering who you are and what you are worthy of.
Your input affects your output. The things you take in affect the things you are putting out. You have the opportunity every day to become more and more mindful about what is coming into frame. Make every effort to identify the things that make you forget that you are valuable right here, as you are. Make note of the things that make you feel like you need to acquire more in order to have a fulfilling life. Your life can be fulfilling, right here, where you are, and it is worth it to do what it takes on a daily basis by being reminded of what is true about your journey, and who you are.