I know myself well. I can self reflect deeply. I know what I am capable of, and what I am not. And I am honest with myself and therefore, with others.
I understand forgiveness and grace fully on an intellectual level. I have given considerable thought to this and I understand why they are needed and I also understand how this releases the negative emotions of hurt, anger, bitterness, resentment. I understand fully why God wants, demands this of us and if we ‘choose’ not to, it is sin.
But, dealing with PTSD, means I am constantly in an involuntary state of protection mode. It isn’t a choice, it happens whether I like it or not.
It has saved my life in the past, but has come at a cost. PTSD isn’t something I choose of my free will. And the reasons I have PTSD, were caused by severe harm inflicted on me that were also not of ‘my’ free will. They were not my choice, the severe abuse was all done against my will. As abuse is.
PTSD is not a choice. Hyper vigilance is not a choice. Reacting emotionally to hurt caused to me, is not a choice, I cannot stop it. It is not a deliberate act. Therefore, it is not sin.
Having an inability to react a certain way to comply with scripture, is not sin. Sin, is a deliberate choice to disobey God and God’s word. This isn’t my failure to try harder, or say sorry God, I am not doing that. And I am not in denial, I see the whole pitcure, fully.
If a person has caused harm to me and is still a ‘threat’ to me in my life, they remain a threat, no matter what I try to think. If they pose a threat to my well being, then I cannot think of them differently. It doesn’t matter that I can myself intellectually and ‘know’ they are not a threat, or their potential threat doesn’t matter, to me, having PTSD, it means they are still a threat.
I can think of abusers from my past with some level of compassion. And the reason I am able to do this is because they do not pose any current threat. There is considerable distance between us and that makes forgiveness much easier.
People who have hurt me recently, are still a threat, they still pose a threat to my wellbeing, as they have already hurt me, already betrayed me, and my protection system is not going to let that go, because they could do it again, or worse still are, behind my back.
I cannot magically just wish away my PTSD symptoms. It is what it is and it wasn’t self inflicted and I am a realist and I don’t pretend to be something I am not. I am honest about myself and that is the bottom line.
I cannot show grace in it’s true form to anyone who has hurt me, who is still currently in my life. Not unless I ‘truly’ believe they will not harm me, lie about me, hurt me, or hurt my life in any way at all, again.
This is obviously never going to happen, as very few people are able to ‘own their sin’ fully and prefer denial and justification and excuses. So, I know myself well enough to know, avoiding them is all I can do, because anything else comes at too much of a cost to me, such is the depth of harm caused.
And, I am not going to beat myself up about this, because a lot of people around me, cannot show love to everyone, or grace to everyone. They can with minor issues, but have they been challenged with anything massive?
I hold myself up to very high standards and I am honest in recognizing what I cannot do and I won’t pretend or fake it, because that is not who I am.
Sadly, as well because of my PTSD, any time I ‘fail’ at anything, whether that be forgiveness, or grace, or I disagree with someone, or voice an opinion that differs, or get hurt, others can and will view this as sin and ‘always’ about my mental health.
Because of my mental health, I have to live up to higher standards of everything, above all the ‘normal’ people, because the second I am not perfect – it will be ‘well you know she’s not well, she has mental health, she can’t help it’. Which can be true in some cases, like grace, but is NOT true in every situation.
It is about whether I have free will to make a choice.
And I shouldn’t be expected to act better than most people around me, who often fail themselves but justify it, or are just in denial. Any many people fail to show true grace to people who have hurt them, and they don’t have PTSD. So, in fact they are failing far worse than I am.
Being totally honest about my journey comes at a high price, because, I will be held to higher standards, or run the risk of being put down, written off, condescended upon, by accusations that it is always my mental health that is always the problem.
The problem isn’t always my mental health, is it about whether free will is possible and just because it is not possible, does not mean I am demonically possessed either, it is just an incapability to exercise free will.
Most people around me struggle with some these deeper issues and many haven’t had huge severe trauma’s to contend with in regard to forgiveness and love and grace.
The difference is, I am not in denial of my lack.
I am honest – grace is virtually impossible for me, with regard to people who hurt me and who are still in my life, or effect my life in some way.
Forgiveness to my past abusers, is possible, because they are no longer a threat.
Honesty, is one of my strongest values I expect of myself and in others.
And this is honesty.
The ability to show grace to people who hurt me and still in any way pose a threat, will be God’s work in me, because I am currently incapable, due to the severity of my past – none of which was of my free will.
The impact of my trauma history has removed some of my capability to exercise free will and will only be healed, by God. And so, I have given it to Him.