I have the privilege of hosting a free 2-hour online Forgiveness Masterclass with Shannon Moroney on 7 June at 4pm BST. I interviewed Shannon for my book, ‘9 Secrets to Thriving’ and this is how I told her story….
Shannon Moroney was lying in bed alone in a hotel room in Toronto on November 8, 2005, playing with the idea that she might be pregnant and relishing the feeling of happiness that surged through her. Her life was more perfect than she ever could have imagined. She’d recently married her soul mate, Jason and was now attending a residential conference on a profession she loved as a school counsellor.
Shannon knew that Jason was a beautiful person who had done something terrible. At the age of eighteen he had committed second-degree murder and after ten years in prison, had progressed sufficiently to become integrated into the community. He’d been living openly with his violent past for seven years when he met Shannon and he’d shared everything about his misdemeanours with her on their first date. Despite his history, everyone who knew Jason loved and accepted him.
As Shannon lay in bed that morning, savouring her feelings of contentment, she heard a knock at the hotel room door. She let the police officer in and after a few strained moments, he told her that Jason had been arrested and had confessed to sexually assaulting two women and kidnapping them to the home he shared with Shannon.
Shannon lost the love of her life. She lost her stellar reputation. She lost friendships and family ties. She lost the job she loved. She lost her home and her life, as she knew it. She became something abhorrent in the eyes of society, something to be scorned, rejected and reviled. And yet Shannon had done nothing wrong.
Police officers searched her house for days, so she couldn’t go home. It was her special place, with pumpkins on the front porch. It was now pictured in the newspaper with crime scene tape around it. The more information Shannon got about what had happened, the more questions circled her mind about how this could be her life. She struggled to understand the conflict between whom Jason was and what he had done. It was like a sudden death. Shannon knew from the beginning that Jason was never going to be given another chance. There were times when she would entertain a fantasy that they might find something wrong with him that could be treated, and he’d be allowed to live in society. But those hopes rose like bubbles and popped.
Shannon ultimately saw her home as a place where three lives were saved. Jason had taken the two women there. When she talked to him in prison, he had told her he needed to take them somewhere safe. The victims had described him as flipping back and forth from being a terrifying monster to being remorseful and caring. He would apologise and offer them water, while at the same time continuing to hurt them.
Shannon had called Jason at 10pm that fateful night because that was the time they always talked when they were apart. They had had a normal conversation, though Shannon had no idea that two women were being held captive in her basement. It was after that call that Jason had left their house and called the police to confess to what he’d done. He asked the police to come and rescue the women.
Shannon felt deep concern for the victims of Jason’s crime. She was horrified at what Jason had done and how it might have affected the two women who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Shannon felt compassion for Jason too. That was difficult for some friends and family to understand. She was expected to choose a side, good or evil. Some friends disowned her because they couldn’t cope with the shades of grey exposed by this complex situation. Shannon knew her marriage to Jason was over, but she couldn’t abandon the man she had loved completely.
And so Shannon consciously created what she calls her ‘golden circle’, made up of the people that understood that these weren’t her crimes. Those people tried to comprehend why Jason had done what he had done, because they loved him and understood that Shannon still loved him too. Then there were those friends and neighbours who were not in the ‘golden circle’ because they saw Shannon as guilty by association.
Shannon is a bestselling author and teaches and writes extensively on the topic of forgiveness. Shannon believes that forgiveness is a primarily a process of healing that is all about ‘getting our choices back.’ About her own story, Shannon has said,
“I didn’t have a choice about what happened to me, but I do have a choice about the future and how I frame the past.”
I have found Shannon’s description of how we can set boundaries as enormously helpful too, and have applied it time and again in my own life. She says that boundaries are, “the distance at which I can love and respect you, and still love and respect myself”. Whether you’d like to understand a little more about setting appropriate boundaries, or are ready to explore what it means to forgive others, or even yourself, then you are very welcome to join us at the Forgiveness Masterclass, and you can register HERE. This session will not be recorded, so please make sure to attend the live event to hear and apply Shannon’s life-changing insights.