Forgiveness, by Susan Austin-Crumpton

“Forgiveness is nothing less than the way we heal the world".

   -- Desmond Tutu, The Book of Forgiveness 

I was a terrible oldest sister.
 
In our dysfunctional family filled with addiction and anger, yet held together in intense love and loyalty, I raged and cried and felt isolated.
 
I am the oldest of three sisters born in three years. I bullied and screamed and took advantage of my younger siblings with a horror I cringe at today! At the same time, we laughed, played together, and dreamed big dreams we believed to be uniquely ours. We held tightly to each other in every chaotic moment throughout our lives.
 
One of us is gone now.  It feels like a limb of mine has been removed.
 
I was texting my remaining sister last night. We laughed, cried, said what we were worried about and laughingly blamed each other for hurricane Florence as if we were small children. “Its my sister’s fault” we texted with intimate smiles and memories.
 
After I put my phone away, my heart was filled with love and gratitude. It welled up in me like a wave of beauty and light that is indescribable. No other light or love comes close to matching that glow.
 
It occurred to me in that moment that this was the result of self-forgiveness. My path to forgiveness has not been an easy one. It has resulted in self-hatred, shame as well as deep sorrow and grief. I would change many parts of my past if it were possible. I have been the one who has been hurt and the one who has caused hurt. All of it resulted in deep pain and rage.
 
I then remembered a discovery I made in my internship to become a counselor many years ago. I had been assigned to the VA hospital where so many war veterans were also recovering from drug and alcohol addiction as a result of PTSD. I discovered something then that has stayed with me all of these years.
 
Here is what I learned.  
         Show me an addict, and I will show you a person so sensitive, so holy,
         so real, they could not figure out how to function in this world.
 
So, I bless my addicted parents and the generations that came before them. I bless my chaotic childhood and the beautiful sisters that helped me survive. I welcome the sensitivity and love that was the legacy of all of that uproar and anger.  
 
I am grateful for my love and sensitivity that are my gifts as a result of addiction.  Holy, Holy, Holy.
 

Susan Austin-Crumpton
   Executive Director & Founder
   The Estuary, Inc.