A Portrait of Forgiveness

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For some of us, forgiveness does not come easily. For others, it does, and for some, we are unsure of what it actually means. So many of us suffer from past hurts that resurface when the person(s) who initially damaged us return to or continue the hurtful behavior after requesting forgiveness. So, what then is forgiveness, and how do we realize it? During an interview with Diana, she exposes past and current hurts that tormented her; then paints a picture of her road to forgiveness in ways some religious minds consider unconventional.

Image by Jakob Owens from Unsplash

Diana’s Portrait:

At times, I don’t know where to begin. All I knew was hurt from my childhood. Even as an adult, there remain traces from the past that impedes healthy familial relationships. I have concluded that I can possibly never have a friendship with my mother and sister.

After my mother married my step-father, I had to compete for her love. After they had my sister, I still had to compete for her love; and years and years later, with us having our children and me moving away, there is still a strong, lingering disconnect. With a sister trained to compete with me and a mother who will turn on me whenever my step-father is against me, I have never felt loved, wanted, and accepted. All of it has been a fight.

I always felt that I needed to prove my love to a family who only talks about me and wants me around when it’s convenient. My husband and I made sacrifices to stand with them and be there for them, and what happens with that? It is all forgotten when I pose a question and sound the alarm when something is wrong. For instance, after my mom took sick and was released to hospice care, my step-father would disappear for long periods, leaving my other on everyone else for care, which I feel is a disgrace. Of course, my pointing this out did not sit well with him, and my sister will not speak up though she stated that she disagrees with his actions. She will support him no matter how wrong he is or what he does. She will support him, and like my mother, turn on me if he so much as point and say that I am wrong. I keep wondering, “what is this hold he has on their mind? Why is he able to control their actions and attitude regardless of his actions and them knowing he’s wrong?”

As children, my step-father and mother would have my sister watching me and reporting back to them; nothing has changed in all these years. I contacted my mother’s siblings for what could be my mother’s last birthday celebration. However, my husband and I had to leave before the party as he works remotely, and his computer was broken, and he would need to be within range of the office to get the issue resolved. I communicated this to my sister and asked her to let everyone know that we left for this reason. Instead, my sister told the family that we “just left,” and she didn’t know why. Words cannot express how hurt I was after learning that she not only lied but withheld information. The fact that she did not state that the party and bringing the siblings together for it was my idea is not as bothersome; rather, the fact that she again decided to compete by taking credit and withholding the truth.

I ask, “when is it enough?” I had to decide to let go. As painful as it is, I can no longer serve as their victim. For years, I tried proving that I am not what my step-father tried to paint me as, and put in my mother’s head and instilled in my sister’s head. I have constantly tried pouring into them and whatever they have going on until there is nothing left to do. With all my husband observed and confirmed as inappropriate, I finally listened to his advice and decided to cut the chords because what I want is not there. No matter how much I imagine a different life with them or pretend that things are better, it is not! No matter how much I think that if I look or talk a certain way or give enough money, in their eyes, I will never be good enough; because the moment I oppose my step-father, they turn against me. So now is my season to heal, and the first step in healing is letting go and moving on.

Admittedly, it is the hardest thing for me to do because of years of his attempt to mentally break me down by telling me or alluding to me never being troublesome. For example, at the age of about 8 or 9, my step-father accused me of trying to sabotage their marriage and have my mother back with my biological father, the man I’d never met. I had no idea what he was talking about then, and as an adult, I still don’t know how such an accusation surfaced. He was both mentally and physically abusive. However, what makes me different from my mother and sister is accepting that I was never wanted, instead tolerated. This understanding helped me reject his craziness and see him for who he is. My reality is, he had to provide for me because my mother came with a package deal, and it would not have proven a good look for him disposing of the extra part of my mother. But, he let me know how unwanted I was with every beating and punishment. He kept me in a dark room for two weeks when I was six years old. I could not sing, turn on lights, open the shades, talk, play with toys or look out the window for those two weeks. I couldn’t even talk to my mom, and she allowed that to happen. Regardless, his endeavor to isolate me from what is “their family” opened my eyes to how abusive he is and not be weak-minded. Further, his behavior and my mother’s and sister’s continued support of his lunacy is what helps me let go.

To my Christian sisters and brothers in Christ, this has nothing to do with unforgiveness. So many of us love to throw the word “forgiveness” around and tout how a person is not “flowing” in it when they separate themselves from those who constantly hurt them. That cannot be further from the truth. I forgive my family, but I refuse to place myself in a position where my mom and sister carry out my step-father’s rage and desire to alienate me as punishment for not subjecting myself to his nonsense, especially after he apologized for his treatment of me, yet, has not changed. He accused me of trying to sabotage his relationship with my mother, but in reality, he is the culprit. His goal has always been getting me out of the picture. Now he has, and my mother and sister support him.

I completely forgive them, but I will no longer be a victim.

 

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My name is Dr. Sheba Akridge, and I am married to Ernest Akridge, Jr. I am also a published author of a children's book, a published poet, certified etiquette consultant, and business owner. My greatest passion and desire is to reflect the love of Jesus Christ. Throughout my life, I have faced many hurts, whether familial, church-hurt, or hurt on the job; but through it all, I learned what it means to love and trust the Lord truly. In essence, I learned what it means to have the grace to love and forgive even when it hurts.

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