Monday, August 4, 2008

Denial, Forgiving and Forgetting

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller

About Denial

From page 29:

Lydia’s parents sat silently through her presentation. [A woman confronts her parents about having been abused by them when she was a child.] When she finished, they stoically denied everything – both of them They were quite calm and matter-of-fact about it. The only emotion they showed was irritation that Lydia had accused them of “such terrible things” in front of a stranger.

From pages 203 - 204:

The power lies in the fact that we forgive even as we remember...

Forgiveness begins with remembering and accepting what has happened in the past. Acceptance is an act of integration. It is a movement towards wholeness. It is how we incorporate the past into the present, and build for the future.

A word of warning. Once we accept that “it happened,” we begin a process that will not be without its share of pain. It hurts to get in touch with how deeply we were hurt as children, to realize how those who should have loved us and protected us actually caused us harm. But as an old saying puts it, “You have to feel in order to heal.”...

Adult children of dysfunctional families often pass through the classic stages of grief: anger, denial, despair, and so on. We mourn over who we might have been, over what we didn’t get out of childhood, what we didn’t get from our parents. We may feel cheated, and stripped of self-worth. But it is important that we let ourselves feel these emotions, work our way through them, and then move on past them. Mourning is therapeutic. It is healing. It is letting go of our bitterness, canceling the emotional IOUs we are holding, so that those who hurt us no longer dominate our lives as they once did.

We can never change what has happened to us in the past. But we can change the way we respond to it in the here and now. That is the point of remembering: we remember so that we can accept and forgive. “Forgetting” is not the answer. It’s just another dead-end street. We feel regret over what happened and we wish it hadn’t happened. But it did. Now we can accept it, and let it go.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)