I am very grateful that so many people have taken the time to let me know that the sharing of my experience has been helpful to them.
The bulk of my healing process occurred prior to the advent of the internet. I didn't know any other abuse and/or estrangement survivors. Actually, I never even heard the term "child abuse" until I was in my twenties. Further, when I became estranged (and for a great deal of time afterword), I had never heard of family estrangement. Given my isolation from other survivor's, I didn't have anyone to help "pave the way," validate my experiences, or to tell me that given my experiences, my feelings were "normal." It was a painful and lonely way to live.
After decades of healing through "trial and error," I became passionate about easing the way for other survivors by trying to offer the sort of support, validation and guidance, I had longed for over the years. None-the-less, it was terrifying to expose the intimate details of my psyche by writing my books. Whenever I receive a letter letting me know that my words have made a difference, it makes it all worth while.
Quite often, I hear from Christian survivors who feel guilty about their perceived obligation to forgive a chronic abuser, which is superseded by their inability to forgive.
A common source driving their sense of obligation stems from the following verses:
Matthew 6:14-15 KJV For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 18:21-22 KJV Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
A Christian reader just sent me an interesting link on this topic titled "Should I offer forgiveness without repentance," from rbc ministries (the publishers of "Our Daily Bread").
Unconditional forgiveness is canceling a debt to all those who intentionally offend us, whether or not they own up to what they have done. Offering forgiveness without repentance, however, does not follow the biblical model of forgiveness (Luke 17:3,4).
The Bible says that we are to forgive as God forgave us (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13). God forgives us when we repent (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3,5, Acts 3:19). He does not grant forgiveness to those of us who are stiff-necked and refuse to repent. We must recognize our sin and repent to receive and enjoy God's merciful forgiveness. God requires repentance and so must we.
Repentance is important because it's a person's only hope for real change (Matthew 18:3; Acts 26:20). If we don't admit our sin, it's impossible to be transformed. If we aren't keenly aware of the sinful direction our lives are going, we will not see a need to adjust the direction. Repentance demonstrates that we need God to help us change our thinking, attitudes, and behavior.