Ep 005: Undemonizing

Ep 005: Undemonizing

Hey, how is it going, everyone? I hope you’re having an amazing week so far. I just got finished rebuilding the website. We’re really trying to push this message out to as many people as possible. I really want the entire world to be able to join me on this journey, it’s 14 days away from my 100-mile walk to go visit my mother in prison to forgive her for everything. I don’t mean just forgive her for asking me to help frame someone else for the murder, I don’t mean just for my childhood, I mean just to forgive her for everything.

As I’m going through this, right, obviously I’m starting to think, “How am I going to forgive her?” The best way to forgive someone is to start to process the memories. Hey, Lisa, good to see you in here. I found out, as I’m reverse engineering how I’m going to go through this process, I realized there’s really three steps to moving forward in my life. Those three steps are confront, forgive, and transform.

The first step is obviously one of the more difficult ones. All three are extremely difficult. There is nothing easy about forgiveness. I think it’s really easy to sit there and talk about how you should forgive, and should forgive, it’s easier for people to say it that haven’t lived through that circumstance than it is for those of us that have lived through that circumstance to find the courage, and the willingness, and the want to forgive someone. Hey, Jessica, good to see you in here.

I found out those are the three steps, right, it’s confront, forgive and transform. I’m going to talk about that for the rest of this week. I’m going to do a daily video about that. But I want to start with confront. I think confront is the first step to moving forward. You can’t forgive someone until you confront the memory. Now, a lot of people that I would talk to would tell me confronting the memory, I think about it all the time. I think about it every day. I’ll never forget it.

Here’s the thing, I agree that we won’t forget the memories, and I agree that some of us will consciously, at least, think about it at some point during the day, every single day. I think that’s part of the problem. However, when we think about what we need to forgive, and I don’t just mean for those of us that have been through traumatic experiences that other people put us through, some of us, including myself, have to learn to forgive ourselves for things that we’ve done. The majority of us that have been hurt before have actually hurt someone else because of that pain.

Because we were scared, we were defensive, and we hurt someone unwillingly, not on purpose, but it is what we did. So we have to learn to forgive ourselves as well. But let’s talk about confront. So when you’re confronting the memory, the easiest thing it is for us to do is to demonize the other person. It’s really easy for us to get really angry and make that other person as horrible of a person as possible. All we remember when we think about that memory, hey, Greg, good to see you from Australia. When we remember the memory, when we recapture what happened, all we remember are the really bad parts.

Of course that’s easiest to remember, of course that’s why we’re so angry. Of course it’s hard to forgive if that’s all we remember is all of the bad. Because that’s all I’ve done for 31 years now. All I remembered about my mother were the bad things, were the men she brought into the house, the men she slept with for money, the fact that she was a stripper, the men that she cheated on and degraded, and just used and left. All I would remember is all those things. My last memory was cleaning up her dead husband’s remains out of the carpet as she asked me to frame someone else for the murder.

Obviously, those are the highlights. When we think about the memory that we’re trying to forgive, or the experience we’re trying to forgive, whether it was our own, or because of someone else, what we see is a movie trailer in our head. That movie trailer only shows the highlights. But the highlights aren’t the good parts, it’s not the funny parts, it’s not the loving parts, it’s only the bad parts. That’s what the movie trailer is in our head that plays over, and over, and over again.

All we are seeing is the highlights of every horrible thing that that person did, or every horrible feeling we felt during that experience, or whatever it may be. But I believe, in order to forgive, no matter how bad that person did, no matter what that person did to you, no matter how extreme, what we have to try and remember are the good times either with that person, or with ourselves, or however it may be. We have to remember something positive.

It’s so easy to demonize my mother, but I am working now on remembering the positive times. There weren’t many, I think there may be three or four, but I remember that we did go on a couple of camping trips as children, and we actually had a good time during those camping trips. I remember we would always make the catfish sound as we were kids, when we were going fishing, as we were camping, it would be like, “Woh, woh, woh, woh.” This was something we all did, even my mom. We all had fun making those catfish sounds.

Now, I know it may sound cheesy, and ridiculous, and dumb, but in order for me to forgive my mother, I have to undemonize her. If that’s even a word, I don’t know. But I have to undemonize her. Which means I have to realize that there were times in my life where she wasn’t a horrible human being. But that is so, it’s so hard for us to do, it’s so much easier for us to be so angry, and demonize that person that hurt us, or the experience we went through, or even demonize ourselves if we are blaming ourselves for something that happened.

What we have to remember is the positive times, even if it’s just one. My one positive time I’m holding onto are the catfish sounds we made when we would go camping. The, “Woh, woh, woh, woh,” that is literally, it makes me laugh, it makes me smile. I’ve realized, if I’m going to forgive her, I have to undemonize her. Now I understand that this forgiveness journey is not just about my mother, it’s about myself. As I told you in the last episode, I talked about how I used to emotionally abuse my wife, and it’s not something I’m proud of. But I would get these flashbacks, and I would go black, and I would feel as though I’m talking to my mom as I’m talking to my wife. And I would treat her as if she was my mother. I would talk to her the way I wish I’d always had the courage to talk to my mom, which was not in a positive way.

I have to learn to undemonize myself. I have to learn to stop being so hard on myself. I have to learn to forgive myself. In order to forgive myself, I also must be able to see the positive in myself. Understand that while I’m saying this, I know I’m making it sound super easy, and I don’t want you to believe that that’s what I think. I don’t want you to believe that I truly believe that it’s super easy. I know, for a fact that this is not easy. I’m going through it every single day, trying to find that one good thing. But we can’t forgive someone if we completely believe that they’re just horrible human beings.

We have to find that one positive trait, that one positive experience, that one time they said something to make us laugh, that one time that it wasn’t miserable, just find that one, that one time. Now, this is hard, a lot more difficult if it was a stranger that has done something to you, that wasn’t close to you. Obviously this is more challenging. But this is more geared to those of us that have been hurt by those closest to us, or those of us that have hurt ourselves because of our own decisions, or we feel guilty for something that’s happened in our life.

Let’s see, [Michele 00:07:36] said, “I have no idea who you are, but you’ve reached a level. Good for you. I became tired of telling people.” Thank you, Michele. Craig says, “Got to find the positive in the negative and that is hard sometimes.” Michele says, “Undemonize, true all the way around.” Again, let me say this again. I am not saying that this is going to be easy, and please don’t listen to this, or watch this and think that that’s what I’m saying.

At no point am I going to tell you at any time in your life is the journey to forgiveness going to be easy, because what it’s like. Everybody sits there and talks about, “You just got to forgive, you just got to forgive.” Like it’s that easy. Like I can just say, “Okay, you’re forgiven.” And it’s done. It’s not that easy, we have to process the trauma, we have to process the memory, and the only way to forgive someone is not to hate them. In order to not hate someone, we must undemonize them, we must try to remember just one, just one memory to hold onto, and see that in our head as we’re processing the memories, and as we’re trying to build up the courage to forgive.

That’s what I want you to do today, I want you to think back to that person that hurt you. I want you to comment on this video. I want you to comment on, if you’re listening to this on the podcast, because I’ll upload this to a podcast later, if you’re listening to this on a podcast, I want you to share in our private community, or on my Facebook page, I want you to tell me one positive memory, I want you to tell me who hurt you, how they hurt you, and one positive memory that you’re going to think back to as you’re working up the courage and the willingness, and the hope of forgiveness.

Because again, we can’t forgive someone who we hate, or who we’ve demonized, who we’ve turned into the devil in our head because of the thing they’ve done to us. So do me a favor, try and find a way to make that happen today, try to find a way to undemonize just one person by just using one memory that wasn’t a horrible memory. Michele said, “There are millions times my parents were, and are just that. It took me years. That journey is so hard. The hatred, I hated them for years. After that I tried to rationalize, today I choose to forgive.” I love that, Michele.

Now, I understand, everybody, as we’re talking about we are forgiving, it’s not like we just decided, “Okay, today I forgive them.” Right? I’m going on a 100-mile, three-day walk to forgive my mother because of so much pain and suffering that comes attached to that memory of her. But this is step one. Step one is figuring out that one memory. Lisa says, “You have to mentally accept sometimes that you don’t need to know that they understand your pain, some people will never understand.” That’s right, they don’t. They won’t understand. It’s not about them understanding, it’s about you curing your own pain. The only way to cure your pain is to not hate that person so you can find the ability to forgive them.

So do that today, share who hurt you, how they hurt you, and what you’re going to do, what one memory you’re going to hold onto that wasn’t miserable, that wasn’t horrible, that kind of puts that little bit of a smirk on your face. If you are uncomfortable doing that here on the page, join our private Facebook group, you can find it here on the page, the closed Facebook group, no one from outside the group can see that you’re even inside the group. They can’t read anything you post. We have a strict confidentiality clause, which means that you cannot share anything that anyone else says.

If anyone is caught sharing things outside of the group, they’re immediately banned. Because it’s all about us processing this, and being able to do it transparently with each other. I hope that this doesn’t make you angry. I hope you’re able to open your mind to the concept of undemonizing the person, or yourself, and finding a way to forgive that person or yourself, and the only way to do that is to not hate them all the time. Not to think that they are the worst human in the world. Only way to do that is to find that one memory. All right, I see you all later.

Andrew O'Brien

Since 2013, Andrew has traveled all over the world sharing his story. Everywhere from college campuses, military bases and even making it to the White House. He not only experienced a lot of trauma but was able to actually overcome it all and create a better life. He wanted to share his story with the world so it would give them not only hope that things will get better but also the motivation to take action and make things better for themselves.

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