Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!
Forgiveness: A Personal Essay
When I was a kid, forgiveness was just a word the nuns wrote on the chalkboard. Something you might try to give to someone else after they’d been bad to you. Something Jesus or Buddha were up to, but not the likes of me.
When I was twelve, a camp counselor molested me. Our illicit sex went on for three years. I grew taller and older holding the boy inside me hostage because I blamed him for being bad, for doing wrong. I couldn’t help it, and it was agonizing. I got even older and started writing about what happened, became obsessed with remembering, with using language to seek meaning in my story.
A day would arrive when I stood to face a pasty old man crumpled in his wheelchair, the counselor who’d wronged me when I was a child. The one who ignited my aching complicity. I looked at that perpetrator, at his stained pajamas, his puffy cheeks and I felt my heart break. For the helpless human in front of me, yes. But more so for the boy I once was. And somewhere in that breaking was the beginning of forgiveness. Somehow, because I’d spent so much time piecing together the narrative of my own life, I was able to see, to feel, how that boy was blameless and how forgiveness was the gift I must give to myself. In writing, the role of victim fell away to reveal a much larger view: life’s passage out of innocence and toward self-knowledge. It amazes me still.