Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I did not escape being mistreated. While not sexually abused, I was harmed emotionally and physically. By the time I had discovered the Emotions Anonymous program, I had done some serious work at understanding my past and doing the necessary work of feeling my anger. I thought my "family work" was done!
Forgiveness came up occasionally as a topic in my meetings, and from time to time I would stumble on a reference to it, in our literature. I chose to avoid doing it. I was not about to issue my abusive person what I considered to be a "blank check."
No. I chose to hold onto my vehement determination to never be a victim again. I thought the power of that hostility would protect me. It took some time in program, and a good bit of healing, before I began to realize that holding on to rage or burning resentment was not hurting my perpetrators. It perpetrated my pain, instead.
It was only when I had found the sweetness of loving myself, that I could understand how resentment subtly affected all my relationships--with colleagues, friends, extended family and people I met more casually too. Resentment, because it affected my ability to trust others, was going to hurt future relationships. When one of my dear relatives died, and brought unhealed resentments back to their family members, was when I could really see that resentment could never be revenge for wrongdoings.
This unexpected realization was the spiritual awakening I needed. It triggered the deep desire to let go of the resentful feelings that were poisoning my life! I let go of my resentment by making it a priority: talking more regularly with friends in program, joining the Al-anon fellowship, praying and meditating, and working Steps Four through Nine on my problem person. When I gave up my bitterness, I regained the Self I was always meant to be.
As it says in September 19th's Hope for Today,
"Today I see forgiveness as an action I take so as to love myelf more [and more] fully."
"No one ever found serenity through hatred." How Al-anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics, pg 86