Adverse Childhood Experiences and the path towards healing. You are not alone.
I share my trials, my victories, and my stories with you in hopes that if any of you were ever touched by childhood abuse or neglect, as I was, you will see yourselves in my experiences and feel strengthened to voice what you had not been able to before. I hope we can learn together why we respond to life through a particular lens, and that there are ways to climb out of this prison of pain, silence, and shame.
My name is Bess Hilpert

Remembrance and Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not Forgetting or Walking Away…

This weekend marks the traditional opening of Summer across the United States. The long winter gives way to fun outdoors, vacations, cookouts and gatherings of families and friends. The long Memorial Day Weekend also brings sober reminders of sacrifice, friends and comrades lost, and what freedom means to all of us.  

Each one of these souls left this Earth, whispering into the wind a story unique to them. Our tears share in that story by holding the remembrances tightly wrapped in our hearts.

However, not all remembrances elicit happy, or even bittersweet feelings. To survivors of Adverse Childhood Experiences, remembering may trigger crushing emotions, physical symptoms, sleepless nights or more. How do we cope? In feedback to my weekly posts, I have often been asked how I could have forgiven those who hurt me or who were seemingly complicit in my long years of abuse. As I reflect on those that have gone before me, leaving me a tale of woes and a tale of life, I can only find myself saying “Thank you” and “I love you.”

Where this may seem difficult to understand, I have been graced, through the window of time, to recognize that each one of these people had their own story of pain, unbeknownst to me. They may have struggled from generational abuse, addiction, and untreated mental health disorders. They may have struggled to make it through each day wanting desperately to find a way out of their own cage of shame, loneliness, fear.

Does this justify what they did to me, or to you? NO! But I need a way forward out of my own limiting discontentedness. Forgiveness is for me. Forgiveness releases the tether hold the abuser has on me. I choose to give myself this grace.

Dr. Brene Brown quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu in her book Rising Strong: 

“When I talk of forgiveness, I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than one being consumed by anger and hatred. Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator. If you can find it in yourself to forgive then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator. You can move on and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person, too.”

Forgiveness, even though it took many years to achieve, allowed the years of bondage, filled with such fear and anger, to wash away.

Dr. Brene Brown explains:

“Forgiveness is not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act; it is the process of taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live. Forgiveness validates not just the importance of naming our experiences and owning our stories, but also how rumbling with a process can lead to clarity, wisdom, and self-love.”

So, do know and hold in your heart, there did come a time, with the aid of good therapists and my quest for a deepening spiritual life, that I forgave the ghosts of my horrible past. You, too, can experience this forgiveness. Forgiving does not necessarily mean reconciliation, but rather a conscious decision to let go with compassion. Forgiving teaches us to love. Love them and love ourselves. And for that, I am deeply grateful.

Dr. Alane Daugherty, researcher, and therapist, finds that

“The force of deep love, compassion and other heartfelt emotions can literally unite our brain, our heart and all the cells of our body. By experiencing what these heartfelt states are like inside of us we can then activate the dormant impulses, cultivate them, and embody them in an integrated way of being. This union feels harmonious and expansive; like we are all at once in touch with the depths of our being, and connected to a much larger way of living.”

So, today, I remember all those that have gone before me through the precious veil we call life. I remember them fully, honestly, and lovingly. They are a part of me, I am a part of them, and we are all a part of a single collective human experience.

If you can, tuck those remembrances in your toolbox. The toolbox that will hold you compassionately and honestly. The tool of forgiveness.

Until next time, friends.

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