It was like climbing Mount Everest. Every step was dangerous yet because I was hanging onto the rope of forgiveness and had hired a trusted guide - I could see and measure my own progress. There was always the promise of a summit view.
I didn't realize it -- but the fact that I could move - climbing was my saving grace.
At this time my outside world was divided into two new precarious fragments.
One fragment was comprised of parents of murdered children, my new "people" who I could now identified with. In some strange way they were an elite group - all of them headliners - yet marginalized. Because they had access to the media - and some weren't afraid to use it - they were unusually powerful. Since they were all suffering traumatization at some level -- this group always felt chaotic. It was like living with volcanoes ready to erupt. But they were the only group I felt one with - loyal to - and could be vulnerable with.
My second outside world was comprised of professionals. I suppose my inroads as a trained journalists helped me connect with them. There was political interest at this time under the umbrella of the restorative justice movement. There was legal interest, the justice system was just becoming aware of victim issues and interested in creating more sensitive victim inclusive policies within the system. There were also the mental health professionals just discovering trauma, who admitted to me that the one client they dreaded most were the parent's of murdered children All of these professionals were asking me for for clarification - understanding as to why the murder of a child seemed so traumatizing that there simply was no hope of healing or reconciliation.
To try and answer them, I would listen to the parents with two sets of ears, one for my own learnings, the other for the professionals. I was open about my agendas, often including the parents in the questions, so I didn't feel like a spy but rather an interpreter.
After listening to a group meeting, I would take notes, try to make sense of it and then organize the issues into a list. I came up with a list of 15 which my husband said was a list from hell. I would then share this list with anyone who listened. I had an immediate audience and asked to speak.
Often when making a presentation, I found myself addressing all of the different interest groupings at the same time. There would be a few parents of murdered children, mental health professionals, restorative justice folk -- and even some forgiveness advocates.
What a mess! I'm not sure how much I actually clarified or explained. Sometimes it felt as if I was speaking out of three sides of my mouth!
The most interesting reflection was when the conversation at the end of a presentation would turn on me - and those present would ask why i wasn't showing more symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD).
I wasn't so sure I wasn't suffering from all kinds of mental disorders so I went to a psychologist and asked him. "When do I need to go for counselling? When do I need help?
He answered me simply. "When you aren't moving. When you are stuck."
I didn't think I was. He didn't either. "Just keep doing what you are doing." he advised.
I wasn't stuck! Apparently one of the characteristics of forgiveness is movement. Forgiveness keeps us moving, crossing boundaries, confronting our issues and searching new ways to find peace.
Choosing forgiveness makes us automatic pilgrims in life.
Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something. - Ralph Marston