Today my calendar reminded me that this is the anniversary of the day the police found Candace's body so many years ago..... I remember it as the night we chose to forgive...
You might recall the story - I've told it over and over again. Once the media broke the news that Candace's body had been found, our house was filled with friends coming to comfort us. Later that evening, after most of our friends had left, a stranger, whose daughter had been murdered as well, came to tell us what to expect next. Still in shock ourselves, we invited him in for a piece of pie. Then for two hours, sitting at our kitchen table nibbling at his piece of pie, he described in detail the horrors of the aftermath of murder.
He certainly accomplished what he had set out to do! After he left, Cliff and I climbed the stairs to our bedroom. As we were going to climb into our bed - we couldn't - the trauma our stranger had talked about was on our bed. Weary and exhausted, we needed to reclaim our bed so we resorted to the only weapon we knew to stave off the horrors of murder. Together we agreed that we would "forgive." We actually confronted our fears and told the trauma that we would forgive. It worked - the trauma presence left. It actually hopped off the bed - and we were able to climb into our soft bed for a much needed sleep.
Our simple conclusion was that the the word "forgiveness" had an amazing power - and thereafter, we drew it out as our weapon whenever we encountered even the hint of trauma.
Now in hindsight, I still marvel. First of all that we had the presence of mind to use the word and, secondly, that it had the power to remove the presence of trauma off of our bed.
But now as a therapist, I have a better understanding. Books on the subject such as the "The Body keeps the Score" by Bessell Van Der Kolk and other books on trauma shed light on what we were encountering.
However none of this was identified or researched at the time.
It was the age old Biblical principal of "forgiveness" that came to our rescue.
On this, the anniversary of our choice to forgive all those years ago, I want to again pay homage to that old worn out concept - so often misunderstood - that saved our mental health and our lives.
May forgiveness continue to thrive and make this a better world.
Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence. - Peter A. Levine