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I am in the process of opening my eyes. It has been difficult to shake off the long-ingrained clouded view that I had come to know as reality. I am now seeing the painful, yet subtle manipulations and experiences as the abuse that they are. Although the abuser will never recognize their actions as such,  I had to make the decision to either accept their reality or mine.

Unfortunately, because of this insight, I became aware of the rumbling within me that grew into the rage that I am still trying to contain. It has spilled over into many other aspects of my life, work, relationships, and pretty much any other human interaction I had, I was uncharacteristically angry. I never really saw myself as an angry person before, always being the calm, peaceful, happy-go-lucky type.

Now I feel like there’s a well of rage rumbling beneath the surface, and having that awareness makes it harder to keep mashed down. The last thing I want is to take it out on people who don’t deserve it, but learning the appropriate response to trying situations is more difficult than I imagined. I no longer want to default to the passive response, but have trouble feeling the correct way to act.

The thing I struggle with most is the idea of forgiveness, of mercy. It seems like the final resolution to this process, but in my heart, I don’t think I’ve got it in me. How can I feel mercy for someone who not only wronged me, but doesn’t acknowledge or feel sorry for the wrong to begin with? Shouldn’t one have to apologize in order to receive forgiveness? Beyond that, mercy seems like giving a pass to bad behavior, allowing the abuse to continue. Mercy feels like backing down, and I’ve spent too much of my life doing exactly that.

I still don’t know what the answer is, but I know I don’t want to feel the rage forever. Bitterness, as Maya Angelou reminds us, is like a cancer. It feasts upon the host and has no effect on the intended recipient. I don’t want to feel that either. For me, I feel like a child who’s touched the hot stove, scar from the wound long overgrown by healthy skin, but still wary of the offender. Forgive and forget, people say. Nah, won’t be doing that, not today.