I will always remember that day because it is my daughter’s birthday. I heard the Breaking News on CNN which was playing in the background around 11:30pm while I was writing a blog post. First, my gut hurt then I teared up as I stopped writing to pay attention to what was being said. I remember thinking, “Such a tragedy that you aren’t even safe at a prayer group meeting in a church.” Then I heard that it was a young white male who was suspected of doing the shooting. According to the news, he was an avowed racist who felt that “blacks were overtaking the world.”
Why was this necessary and what could be done to stop the next massacre? Why was there so much hatred and intolerance in the world? What were we becoming? Can we overcome this trend toward violence and chaos? I had so many questions and few answers. I prayed because that is all I could do at that moment. I felt so overcome with sadness, grief, and heartbreak.
I learned that the as I listened to further updates that the shooter was Dylann Roof, age 21, from Lexington, South Carolina. He was arrested on June 18, 2015. The victims ranged in age from 29 to 93. At his hearing, family members of those who were murdered expressed forgiveness and compassion for the young man saying “May God have mercy on your soul.”
So I am here to Speak for Compassion for all involved. Compassion defined by The Free Dictionary is “Deepawareness of thesuffering of anotheraccompanied by thewish to relieveit.” The other that I want to express compassion toward are the family of those murdered. Their loss is great, but God is Greater and will relieve their suffering in due time. They will never forget, the loss is permanent, but they will be lifted in pray by the whole country as they heal from their loss.
I also want to express compassion for Dylann Roof’s family. They did not sign up for this tragedy to be part of their lives but it is. I will pary for their suffering as well. As for Dylann Roof, I struggle with feeling compassion for him, a racist, perpetrator of a hate crime, and a murderer, but this is what my God calls me to do…forgive and show compassion. I will be obedient and rely on God to help me with my feelings of anger and hatred as I choose to forgive and show compassion.
I will also treat myself with compassion as I go beyond anger and hatred toward compassion and love. Isn’t that what we all are called to do?
What about you? Can you speak for compassion?
FYI: If you would like to be a part of 1000 Speak for Compassion June 20, 2015, the Link is open until June 27, 2015 and a copy of each blog post will be compiled into a book for the survivor families of the victims.
Surviving Father’s Day when you were abused is a unique problem. Father’s Day is this Sunday and for some it is a difficult day. Widely celebrated I am inundated with Father’s Day commercials on TV and the greeting cards both in stores and on-line. Add to this the emails that I receive advertising Father’s Day sales of gifts, it can all be overwhelming for me since I was sexually abused by my father. For information about my story of abuse, see Depression and Mental Health Awareness.
Although I completed therapy for this abuse and for my Dissociative Identity Disorder that developed as a result of my sexual abuse, I still find Father’s Day tricky to deal with as do many, many others who struggle with fathers that were abusive emotionally, physically, verbally and even absent in relationships.
I know for myself, I try to focus on the good things about Father’s Day. There is the relationship my daughter had with her father which was better than my relationship with mine. I look at the wonderful relationship my small grandchildren (ages 3 and 6) have with my son-in-law who is a great dad. For many of us, we struggle to redefine what the day means to us. I remember while my father was still alive how I would struggle to find a greeting card and gift for him (after I had forgiven him…another story). All the cards were so sappy and full of the image of a perfect father. I would eventually settle on a comical card (probably more satirical than funny. But I figured he was lucky to get a card at all.
All we adults who were abused as children really want is “no judgement” from society and those who had good fathers. Sadly, we get a lot of flack about not celbrating Father’s day, or celebrating the day differently than most. Just respect that we had a different experience as children that you did and let us move on with our healing at our own pace.
Some of the things that you might do as one who was abused or neglected by your father are:
To “honor” our father, at the very least, is to treat him with common decency and dignity. In the rabbinic tradition this is the bare minimum of making sure that he is clothed, fed, and sleeps with a roof over his head. It is a minimum, it certainly isn’t a maximum, but it is a start.
Remember that the father/child relationships you see in commercials and on TV/movies are not real but fantasy. They are written with a script and followed to create a warm, fuzzy feeling.
You can create your own tradition paying attention to your children’s father, etc.
You can ignore the holiday and just disconnect from social media and TV for a few days or pick and choose what you will watch or participate in.
If you had someone who was “fatherly” toward you, you can reach out to him.
You should build in extra support for yourself through friends or family with whom you have shared your past experience.
You may even choose to do something therapeutic like writing a letter to your father (but not sending it), making your own greeting card (search the internet for programs), or write poetry related to your feelings about the abuse (this is what I do).
Most important on this Sunday, Father’s Day, take care of yourself and allow yourself to feel what you feel. Remember, it is only a day and come Monday, everyone will move on until next Father’s Day.