Thanks for this? Yes, really.

When I was seventeen a young man threatened me at knife point, tied me up and held me hostage. He was the ex-boyfriend of my friend and he figured this action would somehow get her back. (I know, I know – and yes, I did point out that even if she came running she wasn’t likely to stay. My logical reasoning made not a jot of difference.)

You might be wondering what on earth this has to do with being thankful. Well, here’s what – on most of my posts the Ten Things of Thankful Blog hop I have included something that has brought responses along the lines of: It’s so great/cool/amazing that you feel thankful for the negative things. This got me thinking about what is negative, what is positive and so on. Actually it didn’t get me thinking about it, since I’ve thought about this whole positive-negative thing a few times. But it got me thinking: it would be interesting to do an entire TToT post on things that seem negative. I had that thought months ago, and then my wonderful Dad died, and I didn’t feel like dredging around for negative things to be thankful for. But then today, my first time back on this hop for several weeks, I had the thought again. As with every other time I’ve thought about it, that incident from all those decades ago came into my mind. I’m guessing this is my intuition telling me it’s time to write about it.

First, I’d like to say that although I no longer hold ill will against this man, I do not condone holding people hostage. It was a terrifying experience and can never provide a solution to any relationship problem!

Yet, looking back over the years, I know that experience taught me many lessons. I didn’t understand most of them at the time, but better late than never. So I can be, and am, thankful for those lessons.

Intuition guided me to do what was needed to escape so I learned that I can cope in a crisis, that I can think on my feet. When danger strikes I can trust that intuition to help me survive. I haven’t always remembered this over the years, and in fact it took me a long time to really appreciate it. But now, it does give me a subtle confidence that I can cope. I am grateful for that.

I used to tell myself that I could cope in crisis, but went to pieces afterwards. Now as I look back I see that wasn’t true. It would be truer to say that without any form of counselling my already fragile confidence meant I came to conclusions about myself that often made life feel difficult and distressing in months and years that followed. But it didn’t make me go to pieces. I made many, many poor choices over the following years but I had already begun to do so before the attack. Therefore, I have no way of knowing if I would done anything differently. I’m not entirely sure why that’s something to be thankful for, but somehow it makes it easier to just let go.

I learned that we do not forgive others for their sake, but for our own. Holding resentment is a huge burden to bear, and letting it go is immensely freeing. I honestly have no idea how I’d feel if I ever came face to face with this man again, but I have no fear of him and haven’t done for years. I don’t wish ill on him, and would prefer to wish him growth and healing. (Someone who acts as he did was very troubled, and this I knew from the start.) So I am very grateful that pretty much from the start I was able to forgive the man who did this. What took longer was forgiving myself for getting into such a dangerous situation in the first place.

I learned very rapidly, that it is not wise to try to help someone who is deeply troubled when you do not have the internal resources (or external resources) that are needed. At seventeen I had plans to be a social worker, but absolutely no understanding of how dangerous my misguided attempts to help really were.  I was guided by sentimental fantasies and books I’d read with names like: The Cross and the Switchblade, and Where Angels Fear to Tread, where all that was needed to protect you from drug-addicted gang members was a mighty dose of love. Perhaps it was true for the books’ authors. It wasn’t true for me. This does not mean any of what happened my fault, but it took me a long time to realise that. I am thankful for self-forgiveness.

Another thing that took me many years to learn was that when we don’t value ourselves, we aren’t valued by others. Had I truly valued myself then, I would have found a safer way to help that man, if I had still felt the need. Now I can see there were ways I could have helped that didn’t mean placing myself at risk. I can also see my desire to help was driven largely by wanting approval, wanting to be good, and fear of the consequences if I didn’t. That’s not love. It’s good to see that now, so I am grateful for that.

The experience let me see the effect of a mind that was truly obsessed. He was obsessed with my friend, but even then, I could see that his  obsession mirrored my own for a different boy. At the time I didn’t have the self-worth to look fearlessly at myself and say, “I’m worth more than fantasizing over a boy who doesn’t want me.” Not then. But eventually that came. Eventually I decided I’d had enough of trying to get love where I couldn’t. And I do think that seeing how deranged unchecked obsessive “love” can make a person was a lesson worth learning.

I’m not sure if I’ve reached ten things yet, but really I’m thankful for taking the time to do this post. I wasn’t sure before I began if the time was right, if I truly had let go of the feelings about that time. Now, having written this, I know I have. The incident is well and truly in the past where it belongs.

 

To read more thankful posts from the blog hop, click on this button:

Ten Things of Thankful

Comments

  1. Powerful stuff here, but I’m so glad that a) you were safe(ish), b)it was all alright in the end(ish) and c) you were able to have sufficient presence of mind to learn from your experiences.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Author

      Lizzi, yes I was safe – as far as I remember, the only physical damage were some rope burns on my wrists. And it is all right in the end for sure, though it took a while to get that presence of mind!
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. good post… one of the (many) cool things about this here bloghop here, is how flexible and curious the participants are, this is an awkward way of saying, any idea presented (in this hop) is regarded with interest by most of us. There is a huge capacity to look at things…differently, my own contributions each week bear witness to this fact.
    So, very cool Post! (sorry, I trust you read that in the manner it is intended.)

    1. Author

      Thanks Clark, I am glad you think this is a cool post! I think you are right, that it is interesting to see the different ways we can approach this hop.

  3. So glad it ended safely…and if it had to happen that you took the best of what you could from it.

  4. If we don’t value ourselves, we aren’t valued by others – such true words! Yet so hard to learn. I think people can tell you this, and you may know in your heart it’s probably true, but you pretty much have to find it out the hard way. Hopefully, the hard way isn’t as frightening as how YOU found it out. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post!

    1. Author

      Dyanne, I agree with you that learning we need to value ourselves if we want to be valued is a lesson that is so hard to learn, even when we know it’s true. It’s so ironic think that we think we need someone else (or everyone else) to say we are worthwhile before we think we can believe it. It definitely took me a long time to realise this.
      I’m pleased you found the post thought-provoking, and thanks for your comment.

  5. Forgiveness has everything to do with the person doing the forgiving and very little to do with the person being forgiven. Forgiving someone, even if one never tells the person being forgiven, is so freeing. Of course, I say that having never been attacked or having any of my family being attacked. When I read or see something like this, I wonder if I’d really be able to forgive. I’m glad to see people can do it.
    Glad to see you back here at the TToT.

    1. Author

      Christine, yes, yes and yes to your first sentence! And your second! And as to whether you could forgive in this situation – I often wonder the same thing when I read about people who forgive people who have murdered someone very close to them. I am quite fascinated by forgiveness, since it was when I began to forgive that my life got about 1000% better, and it’s definitely a process: first you need to acknowledge your pain, and then when you have honoured yourself in that way, you can open to forgiveness. I have a feeling that you would be able to!
      Thanks for your comment and for the welcome back.

  6. You’re a strong person to forgive. It’s a really great exercise to look at the things we are thankful for because we often forget.

    1. Author

      Thanks Salma. Am I strong to forgive? I have been pondering this since I read your comment and I think it could be the other way round: that forgiveness makes us strong. I wrote an article about the benefits of forgiveness a while ago, and researching it I discovered that people who forgive become less anxious and depressed and that it has physical benefits too.

      I totally agree about looking for things to be thankful about is a great exercise! Thanks for your comment.

  7. I have such admiration for you and others like you who can not only forgive, but express gratitude for lessons learned from unfair situations.

    1. Author

      Kristi, thank you. And right now I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for all the lovely responses here, including yours!

  8. Wow. What amazingly powerful stuff. I’m so glad that you wrote this post. I, too, in younger years, pined after somebody who didn’t value me at all. I’m so glad to have learned the lesson that love is what happens with mutual respect.
    I can’t imagine how terrifying it was to have been held at knife-point. I’m so glad that you’ve moved on and forgiven. For you.
    xo

    1. Author

      Kristi, it is so sad the way we can hanker after someone who just isn’t interested. And I still went on doing it, even after I saw how futile this guy’s obsession with my friend was. But we can only let go when we feel worth it. Glad we both learned that!
      Thanks for your kind thoughts, and I’m also glad I moved on!

  9. Thank you for sharing this frightening experience and for sharing all the thoughts and feelings that came with the incident. Forgiveness is nothing that comes easily. You are a very strong person.

    1. Author

      Joy, thanks for your kind comment. As I’ve mentioned in a reply above, I think that it is forgiving that makes us strong, not the other way round, so I don’t think I’m stronger than anyone else.

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