I was never hit. I was never thrown on the ground. But I was tossed word acid daily. It wasn't from a boyfriend. It wasn't from a lover. It was from my stepmom. And it hurt really bad.
For too long, all I knew was how to be a "good" girl, and do the "right" things. I wasn't supposed to talk about certain things, especially this. But I wasn't supposed to feel like a hostage in my own house growing up either.
So I'm done with being silent now. Because little word jabs create cracks in your self-worth. Enough cracks lead to a spirit breaking. In 2010, I reached my breaking point.
"Stupid. Worthless. Shame. Manipulator. Devil. Shit." As the years went on, the words got worse. For a long time, I wanted her to feel the same cracking that I felt.
I wanted her to hurt. And then 2010 happened. I left my abusive household and felt free for the first time. I told myself that I would never, ever, be like my stepmom.
An enormous weight was lifted when I walked out of the door. I didn't need to hurt her anymore.
I could get on with my life and be happy on my own. But that's not what happened. I got into a relationship soon after I left, and in 2011, something in me changed.
The relationship was unhealthy, toxic even. Soon enough I found myself verbally abusing the lazy man in front of me, saying things like, "You stupid, lazy piece of shit."
I hadn't moved on. I hadn't become happy on my own. The woman I swore I'd never be anything like, that same woman who abused me, was becoming a part of my identity.
I was cracking again. How could I use those same vile words that had broke my spirit?
I didn't know it until I found myself in a seat one day at church. And the pastor was talking about this word. This word I never heard before. It was called "unforgiveness."
Sure, I thought he made it up. But that little, annoying, and totally intuitive voice inside of me told me that it was my word. So I swallowed it whole.
I learned that to truly move on, I needed to forgive her. And every fiber of my being cringed at the idea. All I wanted to do was forget, but I knew that pastor was right, I couldn't move on until I learned to forgive. Not just her, but me. That way, I really could be free.
So I started thinking backwards. I remembered how every single time someone tried to console me about my abusive situation, I turned them away.
They didn't understand what it was like living there. In a situation where you had no voice, and because you had no clear way out, you ended up defending your abuser. You didn't know better.
I couldn't even call it abuse until I started healing. That was one of the first steps on this road of forgiveness. Learning that what I went through was wrong. That I wasn't the one to blame.
"Blame me" was the victim's mentality and I was still in that place. Until I was told to start seeing that "hurt people (noun) hurt (verb) people."
My stepmom was a deeply wounded person. I had to see her not as she was now, but as she might have been, before she was hurt too. And then I actually felt bad. That she was never given the opportunity to learn how to heal herself.
Every time she spat at me, she was looking back at a mirror of herself. It wasn't me. I kept saying that, on repeat. And I wanted to forgive the wounded little girl that she still was.
Then suddenly it wasn't about her anymore, it was about me. I was mad at myself this whole time for allowing someone to penetrate my soul like that. To wound me and let me bleed out like that.
I really needed to forgive myself. That was the root of it all. I wanted to be the version of me that loved life. That knew life. Before I came to know death so well, starting with my mom's funeral.
I had to come to know that it wasn't my mom's fault for leaving me. It wasn't my dad's fault for being lonely. It wasn't my stepmom's fault for being hurt. It wasn't her fault for not knowing how to treat me.
It does not, by any regard, excuse her for verbally abusing me. But in order for me to let go, I had to forgive her. So I could release me from feeling like I was being held hostage. So that I could start to uncover and really find the truest version of me.
Are things peaches and cream now? No. I don't speak to my father. I've had no contact with my stepmother since walking out that door in 2010. Because forgiveness doesn't mean reconciliation.
You see, I didn't "verbally" forgive her. I forgave my abuser in my heart. I let her go. And the anger she placed upon me had no power over me anymore. I was finally free. That's why I forgave my abuser.