Reimagine Forgiveness – TEDxDePaulUniversity

I still can’t believe I can call myself a “TEDx Speaker“. (Insert happy face emoji!) I still have moments of disbelief that I went before an audience of 200+ people and shared an idea that I felt was worth spreading by memory. And it will be on the Internet forever and ever, Amen! I am still struggling with imposter syndrome, but every day I feel more qualified and more deserving of my accolades and accomplishments as a survivor, advocate, social service provider, & inspirational speaker. This talk couldn’t have come at a better time for me. My journey of forgiveness has been long (12 years & counting) and complicated, but I’m here and I’m committed to the process. It’s not something that happened overnight. It started as a thought, then a feeling, and then I felt compelled to act on it. What people don’t realize is that it’s a process and forgiveness is very personal.  I was very intentional about focusing more on me than my attacker because my healing is for me. And in holding true to that, the universe was guiding me because I forgot an entire paragraph towards the end of my talk that I will share with you.

It’s been 3 action packed years and Nicole has not responded. And that’s okay. I went into this knowing that she might not write back. My actions don’t mean that I’ve forgotten what happened or that I’m okay with what she did. My extension of forgiveness means that with or without her apology or repentance I WILL be okay and I WILL move forward and I hope she will, too.

At first, I was a little disappointed that I forgot to share that piece, but the more I think about it, the more it aligns with my goal to keep my message focused more on my journey and less about her. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my message and take from it what you need. Be patient with yourself and do what you feel is right for you. Thank you!

 

Dear Nicole . . .

Dear Nicole . . .

Prison

Dear Nicole,

I have contemplated writing you for a while now, but I could never bring myself to do it. I suppose that this letter could either positively impact you or negatively impact you, but I’m hoping that it brings you as much peace as it brings me. I am not writing you out of ill will or with any negative feelings. Instead, I am writing you because I have freed myself. When I was first burned, I thought my life was over both literally and figuratively. That night, I thought that I was going to die and I almost died while in the hospital. A part of me did die that day, but I am grateful that I am still here to enjoy this life. I had a very difficult time accepting what happened to me and initially, I was very angry and bitter. That anger and bitterness was holding me hostage. It changed me for the worse and I began lashing out at my family and friends. I was angry with the world, but I was most angry that my life had changed so drastically. I did not deserve what happened to me.

One day after crying and having a pity party, I decided that I did not want to live like that anymore. I made a choice to forgive you (and the others involved) for harming me, and I made a choice to forgive myself. I do not know if my words bring you any peace, but I really need you to know (for my own peace of mind) that I forgive you wholeheartedly. You are worth so much more than your actions. As sad and as hurt as I was about what happened, I would not change a thing. My experiences have afforded me opportunities that I could never have imagined and I thank God for all of my blessings and lessons. I’m not celebrating the trauma and the sadness. I’m celebrating the transformation and spiritual growth.

There is still a lot of speculation about what happened and the motive behind it, but I’ve accepted the fact that I may never get answers. During the trial you never accepted responsibility for your actions, and that’s fine, but I still needed to write this letter. I did not want to let another day go by because I did not know if I would ever have the opportunity to tell you this. I hope that you are well and I hope that you will see better days.

Sincerely,

Karli

 

“If anyone has caused you grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on her by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort her, so that she will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for her.” 1 Corinthians 2: 5-8

Why did she assault me with acid?

“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” -Robert Brault

(but it doesn’t mean you won’t have questions)-KB

She’s been on my heart and mind lately. Sometimes I want answers, sometimes I don’t. Some days I think about her, some days I don’t. But today I can’t ignore this feeling. Have you ever been hurt by someone you don’t know and wonder why? I know that my destiny is not tied to her, and despite everything I wouldn’t change a thing, but I can’t help but want to know WHY. (She’s locked up, but in many ways I’m locked up, too).

And if you’re wondering whether or not I’ve forgiven her . . . Yes, long ago. The moment I chose to forgive her and the others involved in my attacks my life improved dramatically. However, I wonder how she’s faring in prison because I know she’s not being rehabilitated. For a while I didn’t need answers, but I’m at a point where I want to know why. Forgiving myself for my choices was harder, but when I say “locked up,” I’m referring to my scars and the ambiguity around what happened. I’m not searching for an apology, just answers.

Prison