The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On Child Abuse, Family Estrangement, and on Writing for Ourselves, and for Others - Part Three

Twelve years after I began writing the first draft of my manuscript (Mother, I don't Forgive You), Heal and Forgive went to publication. By this time, I knew a number of other abuse survivors and I felt largely healed from my trauma. Yet, the pain of family estrangement continued to rear its heartbreaking head. Although the subject of abuse is no longer taboo in our society, family estrangement is still a topic hidden in shame.

I joined a number of online estrangement support groups, and found solace that I was not alone in this experience. In sharing our circumstances, receiving validation, and offering support to others, once again, I found greater clarity about my healing and recovery from family estrangement. I posted to these groups and wrote in private correspondence almost daily for nearly three years.

The cycle of writing/healing, and healing/writing, aided me again when, after fourteen years of estrangement, my brother contacted me and we all began the process of family reconciliation. I am positive that I would not have been healed enough to explore the possibility of reuniting with my family without the support of my fellow estrangees, the sharing of experiences, and the opportunity to heal through the written word.

Emotionally, writing Heal and Forgive II took a lot out of me, but I wrote with the hope that I could help others; return the support that has been given to me; offer a blueprint for the possibility of healing from family violence, and perhaps even that which I always thought was impossible - forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Sharing my story has felt very vulnerable. Although writing has undoubtedly been healing for me, the real reward has been in having the opportunity to turn my negative experiences into a positive by advocating for other survivors. The feedback I receive "fills my tank." Offering hope, empathy, and validation to others is not only helpful to them, but soothes me as well, as we connect in our mutual humanity.....


KarenP said...

Hi Nancy,

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that I am getting so much out of your book Heal and Forgive II. I have actually suggested it to my sister and plan to buy a copy for her. Our (yours and ours)specific instances are different but the emotions and pain are the same. It has been so helpful and given me even more clarity as to my next steps in healing. Sadly, it does not include restoring with my parents. I now see I am not ready yet. There's still more healing I need to go through. Thank you soooo much for sharing yourself with us. I look forward to your next book. :-)

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Hi Karen,

Thank you for your feedback! I’m always glad to hear that the sharing of my experience is helpful to others.

I wish you the best on your continued healing.

Warm wishes,

SM said...


Your 2nd book has also been a big help to me. I never read the first, but I got the second book because I was trying to learn what I needed to do to reconcile with my ILs. The book was a great help to me. I now see that all I can do is heal myself and the situation with the ILs wont be fixed until they're healed as well. Thank you for writing the book!

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Dear Laura,

Thank you for your comments. Family estrangements are painful stuff!

I’m very glad that you found my book helpful.

All my best,