The Course of Hatred

It was nauseating. Looking at him. She hadn’t done it for years now – she refused to even acknowledge his presence because acknowledging him would only give him undeserved power. It couldn’t – wouldn’t – change what had happened so many years ago. He betrayed her trust, stripped her of her innocence, ruined an experience that should have long awaited her.

True, genuine hatred – she felt that about very few people. But he deserved only hate. This man did, and does not, deserve love. While that may sound harsh, his actions were much harsher. She trusted him – he was a part of her family so why wouldn’t she? At six years old, you’re never taught to question your own family members. And now he has no chance of ever receiving that trust again. Because of his violation. God, she hated him. Loathed, detested, abhorred. He is an abomination to humankind. He never had any excuse for his actions – he is a rational human being, he has a wife, a family, and they carry on day to day knowing nothing of the type of man he is. In fact, she could never even view him as a man. A man knows the proper way to treat women. He was, is, and always will be the scum of the Earth. That’s how she would remember him. And that’s how the few that knew her secret would remember him, too. A classless prick.

And while hate is such a strong word, she could think of nothing better than that term to describe the way she felt towards him. He carried on with his actions for years. The first emotion she felt with him was happiness – he was quite the charmer, always goofing around with the kids, and then a quick second emotion of confusion, followed by fear and trepidation. She never could understand what was truly happening to her – it just did. It just happened. And that was the way things went. It was only as she grew into her own that she came to truly understand the full weight of his actions. How much of an impact it had and would have on her, and then waves of other emotions came pouring out: helplessness, embarrassment, shame. Damaged.

She learned to bury those emotions, place them into the deepest, darkest corners of her brain – ignore them even when he was in the same house as her. Family parties, holiday gatherings – so many people, and none of them knew what he had done. He is still the charmer, he will put on a show for everyone – but in a way, she knew – she knows – the real version of who he is. He is not charming, he is not social, he is fucking horribleAnd for so long, she wish people could know that. But then, the repercussions of that knowledge would sear far too deep to ever repair her family. And she could never bring herself to damage so many other people with what she had been carrying with her since she was a young girl.

For years, she had only felt anger and hate towards him. She would lie awake at night replaying every instant, blaming herself at times, and knowing how idiotic it was to blame herself. Nevertheless, she felt that somehow what had happened was her fault. That’s how she used to think. Now, a woman coming into her own, she knew none of it was her fault. He was just that manipulative. A sick son of a bitch. But it was in these darkest moments that she recalled her faith.

She had been baptized and raised Catholic, and while church was never completely thrust upon her, she had the family of Catholics that decided to be Catholic come Easter and Christmas (i.e. they mainly attending mass on these days – minus her grandparents who have gone every Sunday for decades on end now). But it was one Sunday, over ten years ago, that she decidedly became more involved in the church that was a mere two minutes from her house. From leading the youth group to helping lead masses, the people in that church renewed her faith. She had long questioned God and why He had let such terrible things happen to her as a child. She had cried, she had screamed and yelled, but she felt like she never got her answer. And in spite of countless prayers and although she had been attending mass every Sunday, she still felt at a loss. Just a little help, God. Some direction. That was her plea. The same plea for numerous nights on end.

And then one night, going through her red-covered Bible that she had kept since the beginning of high school, she found Mark 11:25:

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him.

Forgiveness…? That had never even occurred to her. All that she believed this entire time was that hatred and anger towards him were just. She was right in feeling that way about him. The number of times she had been around him and the only thought she could muster was “fuck you” – well, she would need about 1,000 pairs of hands to count on. But one of the core principles of Catholicism is forgiveness. All this time and it never occurred to her that while she believed anger and hatred were the way she must feel, it only now dawned on her that this was his way of still having power over her. And he deserved none of that. This one thought on that one night was the impetus she needed to begin to let go. She turned to God, turned to her faith, and prayed for the ability to forgive this man. She could never forget, but she needed to let go. For her own sake. Did he deserve forgiveness? Absolutely not. But her faith had also taught her that because we are all sinners, we cannot judge one another. That is not our job, but for a being much more powerful than any of us.

She has not achieved full forgiveness yet – the nightmares and his presence make it difficult – but she has let it go in a way that she no longer feels anger towards him. That has dissolved, and now she feels nothing towards him. Forgiveness is a near impossible feat for someone that has done something so atrocious. It requires a raw effort of tolerating an individual through their deepest faults. And even with her faith, she knew that it would be more than okay if she never reached full forgiveness. Because the feeling of nothing, of numbness, for him and his existence, that is more than enough. Knowing he no longer has any power over her – that is a good feeling. He alone has to live with himself, and hopefully the thoughts of what he did for years will torture him. And maybe one day his family, his friends, his mere acquaintances, maybe one day they will see him as she sees him: a monster. Maybe then justice will be served. Because she will go on feeling nothing, and he will go on having nothing.

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