Forgiving When All You Feel Is Numb
My daughter, who is twenty-six years old, was punched in the face and knocked out cold after a male assaulter grabbed her cell phone and ran away. I got a call from her boyfriend informing me that she was taken to Penn Hospital in Philly where she lives. It was 3:30 p.m., January 19th, Tuesday.
I don’t think I actually took a breath during that call when I was listening to the words coming out of the phone. The only thing that existed in that moment was this perception that the phone by my ear was incredibly heavy and huge.
I was calm as I usually am in crisis situations—something characteristic of me since my younger days. Maybe it’s the benefits of being a meditator or just being able to remove myself easily from emotionally charged situations. Either way, I systematically began filling a bag with stuff, which I knew I’d want or need if I was heading down to Philly to be with my daughter for a few days.
Essential oils were the first to go in knowing their anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and other healing properties (thank you Young Living Oils). Then a hot water bottle, cold pack, echinacea tincture, warm socks and comfy clothes in case she needed to change at the hospital, incense, prayer beads, cooking spices and the address where the ER was.
I never packed anything for me to change into however, which was a sure sign of my lack of self-care in that moment.
The numbness I’ve been carrying around my heart is starting to melt as I start to sort out feelings. Feelings towards what actually occurred two weeks ago, who was the guy, who were the witnesses, who was the good Samaritan who took the time to help her and how and what I feel towards each of those awarenesses. The more the feelings percolate like coffee on Sunday mornings, the more my heart and stomach hurt like hell. There’s this bottomless emptiness gnawing at my intestinal lining that vacillates between that and seething bonfires burning my bowels when I think about the pain that guy who punched my daughter must have had in his body and mind.
I know that’s crazy to think, yet, that thought is there. Thinking about this unknown guy cruising the streets of Philly maybe assaulting other people this very moment and what his growing up must be like to punch someone who weighs a mere 110 pounds dripping wet. What pent-up emotions was he harboring? Who did he see when he punched her face? What was he feeling, if anything? Does he even think about it now, any regrets possibly?
Luckily, he wouldn’t be living with murder on his conscience since my daughter is recovering from a bruised lip, head and fractured nose only. Although, how would he know that if he ran away. So I set my sights to moving forward out of this grim haze and towards a glimmer of the forgiveness track to get beyond this gripping pain. Now I know why staying numb is a bit of a safety mechanism. Because once that ice melts around the heart—watch out!
I’m in the process of forgiving the assaulter and all those who witnessed it and didn’t come forward. It is definitely a process. Sometimes it is easy and there’s a sense that someone opened up the blinds and let the sun stream in. And other times, forgiveness is buried under layers and layers of burning coals.
Until forgiveness permeates every fiber of my being towards this situation, pain knocks on my door daily. My thoughts empathize with the victims of other crimes, other disasters, other tragedies—here and worldwide. I’m forgiving and thinking positive things for all that. Eventually, that moment will come. It always does in growth. And then scar tissue will form and life will continue to throw soft and hard balls my way. How I choose to handle it all will ultimately make the difference. This is what I believe.