Hello, I am a ‘grown up’– I am married and my kids are grown, but I still struggle DAILY with anger and pain I feel toward a family member. This person, I acutally believe may be mentally ill (bipoalar) but no one else in the family will pursure this. There were many wonderful privildeges I had i my childhood, but I was afraid a lot, and this is STILL with me. Just the other night my husband slammed a cabinet in the kitchen -accidentally- and my insides went into alert mode. This person abused mostly their spouse -hitting and verbal abuse, this person also had affairs and also sexually abused their spose. I was hit, but I was aware of the things happening to this other person -the spouse. I remember the worst was waking up one night to bieng beaten. Everyday you don’t know what mood he will be in. I am sorry to post a specific like that, my question is that this person is still in my life and even though I do not feel threatened physically, I am sitll afraid and angry. I want to forgive, but my question is wondering if forgiving the past and forgiving th present different? I am not afraid of bieng hit, but I am sickened bieng aorund this person and repulsed by them. SICKENED and REPULSED! This dominates my life. Doominates. Any ideas for me I would like to hear it. I have thought about breaking ties with my family, but that feels wrong a spiteful. Sorry this is long!!!!

From your description, it sounds to me that this person’s physical abuse has ended.  If not, that is the first line of defense, to protect yourself and others by getting help from the appropriate social service agency in your area.  If the abuse is over, then I recommend that you start forgiving him for his past unjust behavior toward you first and then toward loved ones who were abused.  You can forgive him for hurt to others because this hurts you to see them emotionally and physically wounded.

As you forgive him for past injustices, your anger is likely to reduce. Right now you are classically conditioned to his past behavior.  You associate certain things now (a slammed cabinet door) with his past violence.  That link between loud noises and feeling unsafe is likely to ease for you as you forgive him.  Please keep in mind that it could take months of forgiveness work to accomplish your goal of beginning to feel safe.  This is ok.  A few months or more is better than living with years of resentment and the unsafe feeling that accompanies this.  I wish you the very best in your forgiveness journey.

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