Forgive yourself not forgiving

Forgive yourself not forgiving

Resentment keeps you locked in the past and

steals your life in the present.

I would like to share my controversial thoughts on one of taboos today : Forgiveness.

As an abused survivor, I’m always hungry to soak up knowledge, figuring out how it happens, what to do and how to handle.  Majority of advice lean toward the idea that victims MUST forgive things happened to them, even suggested by well-known professionals / experts / coaches.

It puts tremendous pressure on victims’ shoulders because now it becomes victims’ responsibilities / abilities to manage their anger after abuse, which sadly can make them feel more stuck in emotions.  If you don’t want to be judged as “small-minded”, then you have to pretend as a “forgivable”, “open-minded” person.  Don’t say bad things about your abusers, only focus on forget everything and forgive.

Personally, I don’t support forgiveness is the must-requirement for healing.   Hurt / pain is such an individual thing so how can any outsiders ask victims to do what they think victims suppose to feel or do?  It’s like an apple persuading an orange should change their skin color to red, it’s unfair.

Social norms are difficult to be violated

Society core moral values affect our behaviors and perceptions.  When large proportion of people over-endorse the concept of “forgiveness”, victims / survivors will feel shamed or afraid being judged for holding anger before they are ready.   We were brainwashed that it’s impossible to live a fulfilled life if we don’t forgive, thus survivors need to forced themselves to pretend “everything is fine” and smile without following their own wishes.

Many survivors search peace, healing from religious but may eventually become more miserable, grumble because there were so many so-called rituals that guide them to heal.  Because of the fear of being judge survivors start to bury anger/sadness inward or gossiping, whining, finding faults on others all day long to hide inner frustrations.

Survivors were told if they don’t forgive, they can never move past those trauma.  This assumption used to drive me crazy, confused why I’m the one who need to take all responsibilities while abusers/toxic people live happily without remorse, or even worse put blame on me as the root of all problems.

Why seldom people have justice to stop or judge abusers, who supposed not to do bad things at first place? But telling me I should be the one who take action? That sucks.

Make excuse for wrong-doers

People love making excuses for abusers, e.g. he didn’t mean to abuse his wife verbally / psychically, but only be true to his feeling (so he is honest!); she must do something terrible so his boyfriend beat her to death (so she’s not sensitive!) ; a boss humiliated / berated a staff is understandable because he / she can’t mange the task well (so the staff is incapable).

In such sub-conscious attempt to support abusers rather victims – definitely telling abusers that there’s no need to change / re-think their behaviors / attitudes.

Stop follow others’ dictation blindly like a sheep

For any survivors, it’s wisely to set healthy boundaries, distance themselves from BS / non-sense and toxic people etc.  Don’t allow others say what is appropriate for us to do, feel or think.

In the past, I feel guilty and fear of rejection of not forgiving people who hurt or mistreat me.  I want to give an image to public that I’m a virtuous person with high moral.

But now, I learn if I don’t love and respect myself, I can’t expect the world accept me. I’m not that willing to let others tell me what I should behave and feel but care much more about my own feelings and wishes.

Don’t believe blindly when anyone who insist you should forgive at all costs.  even though they are your dear supporting friends, relatives, authoritative leaders, who actually have never experienced what you had experienced.

They are not bad but simply don’t know the right tool to help you.  How can we ask for business advice from someone who never run his/her business? How can we get good suggestion about love from someone who never establish a harmony relationship?

I really feel this is another way to re-victimize survivors and take away their power to own their thoughts / feelings / judgments. Try to find other professionals that have good knowledge / experience in dealing with trauma, you will surprise how their different perspectives help you.

Inborn self-protection mechanism

Human inborn ability is to feel hurt / pain so we will not get injured, thus it doesn’t make you feel worthless if you feel it.

My eyes rolling with concerns whenever heard someone praise another person as “generous”, “forgiving” because public tend to misinterpret the term of “forgive”.

If someone hurt, humiliate or mistreat you, I think it’s ok to feel angry / sad, which is telling that person that what they are doing is wrong and unacceptable.  Reasonable emotional signal shows we have our own boundaries, self-worth, self-respect and that person is crossing the line.

In contrast, one who is willing to tolerate non-stopped BS, abusive treatments are indicated how this individual see themselves inside.  That’s why I never cheer for anyone who was constantly being demeaned / humiliated.  This is not compromise. One who feel not worthy / deserved to be loved and respect, will let others step over them without saying a word.

I used to be that kind of person.  After years of abuse, I lost touch with my inner soul.  I accept underpaid jobs though I have better knowledge and experience comparing to other applicants.  I don’t believe I’m worth for certain level of salary.

Pathological cycle of healing

“Forgive” is an action, not as simple as people think : ok, I say this word now then next minute all pains in past will be gone.  Recovery can become even longer / slower because now we hate ourselves for not forgiving.

We can’t live peacefully because everyday we need to use our energy to figure out how to forgive. We can’t talk our anger/frustration in public because people judge us for being ungrateful.  We may also compare with other victims, whose is worsen than mine so I should let it go.  We accumulated self-doubts of our moral / character. There must be something wrong with me because I can’t forgive, right?

Closing thoughts

We are the drivers, forgive only when we’re ready, not because someone says so, or society expect us to be kind and forgiving human.

Good for you if you finally can forgive someone.  But also please forgive yourself for not forgiving at this moment or forever.  Truth is there are people who really unforgivable. Watched an interview of a well-known judge for serious crimes early ago, she also claimed that according to her years of cases handling, evils do exist in the world and should not be forgiven.

But at the same time, it’s important to find other channels to ease our anger, not letting what happened to us define who we are, or worse, further destroy our lives. Need not acting as a “perfect” notable person, making others happy but we feel miserable on our own.

Have you ever forced yourself to forgive others simply because others say so? Do you think forgive is the ultimate solution?

Photo credit : Forgive

13 thoughts on “Forgive yourself not forgiving”

  1. Fantastic post! There are acts that are so evil that I believe they are unforgivable and I don’t know how one may heal when being pushed to do so. Thinking and writing out of the box is awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. it was interesting reading this, as it took me back to some prior sessions with a psychologist, and where i am now.
    why should anyone forgive someone who shows no sorrow or remorse for their damaging, abusive actions ?
    if it were a random person or a friend that was particularly horrid, it’s considered acceptable to walk away. however, if it’s your mother, they are almost untouchable, you are expected to forgive.
    my narcissistic mother has continued to state that she doesn’t know why she did nothing when i got the courage to speak up against the actions of her boyfriend toward me, has never apologised for inaction. (and that was just a turning point, not everything). we even went to a psychologist at one point, together for one session, separate for some – the upshot, i was told “she was young and didn’t know what she was doing, you need to forgive her”. net, i had no help, i was just expected to forgive and everything would be fine.
    so, years and lots of NPD experiences later, now i’m at the point of recent no-contact, with lots of support and help.
    i intend to get on with my life, heal without my mother or parts of my family, heal and find myself without feeling a need to forgive.


  3. I really love this post. You have said things that I’ve borne in my life but did not find words with which to express them. I know what it feels like when you are forced into a corner feeling guilty and terrible because someone expects you to forgive immediately and you haven’t done so yet.
    But I have realized that even when I was still struggling with this issue, when I will make up my mind to forgive, then go back to the same angry flashbacks, God still loved me. He did not reject me. He was patient with me until I healed and was able to naturally forgive.
    The truth is that God sees our hearts and our efforts but others see only our outward manifestations and they label and treat us accordingly.
    Thank you for being so courageous and so transparent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “He was patient with me until I healed and was able to naturally forgive.” I love this because it shows that God does not force forgiveness upon (he waits until we’re ready) and it shows that forgiveness is a natural step of healing. Thank you so much Gretiana for sharing this.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks for your comment, i’ve been so busy and not able to check my blog out as frequent as i used to be. there are so many people, claim to support or help victims but actually forcing them to forgive or let go according to others’ agenda. The more I dig into this forgiving thing, the more i realize forgiveness is very personal thing. we can let go and heal but it’s not really necessary that we force ourselves to forgive.


  4. I agree with you. I don’t think we automatically have to forgive anyone that has hurt us. Even the Bible teaches that we are under no obligation to forgive anyone that continually abuses us (Luke 17:3-4). The problem for most of us survivors is society makes us feel guilty if we don’t forgive our abusers, insinuating that we don’t have a right to feel the way they do about our experience. I agree. It is ludicrous to expect victims to bear the burden of their abuse and forgiveness of their abuser simultaneously. I don’t think that we should even be using the word “forgiveness” in abuse situations unless there’s a chance the relationship can be reconciled. That is not the right word for abusive situations. The word “forgiveness” throws everything into a loop for abuse victims. At some point, we will have to “let it go,” to facilitate healing but that’s not the same as “forgiveness.” Abuse is like the elephant in the room that no one is supposed to talk about. The sooner you “forgive” your abuser, the sooner we can go back to not talking about it. This type of attitude really exacerbates the problem–and the fact that everyone wants to be forgiven without any type of repentance. But as you said, there are some acts that are so evil that they are unforgivable. The bottom line is that abuse survivors must heal on their own terms–not someone else’s terms (or agenda). Each person, situation and experience is different. To this end, it’s important to find a friend or counselor that validates your experience–someone that does not force “forgiveness” upon you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, thanks so much for your support always and remarkable comments. I’ve been really busy since a new job started. i feel that we have similar thoughts / opinions on many topics. yes, i agree and try to educate public that it’s ok not to forgive, or only forgive when you are ready. because i’ve seen so many victims are forced to forgive, let go according to others’ agenda. they feel judged or critized as not a good person if they don’t let go or forgive. but the truth is there are times that the incidents are too serious that it’s hard to forgive and hug your abusers back after all these trauma. i feel if we really love and support the victims, we just need to listen and give spaces to them, so they have the permissions to forgive and heal according to their own speed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love reading what you have to say because it’s usually what I’m thinking and have been thinking. Forgiveness does take time and should be done at the victims “own speed.” Forgiveness and healing usually work together unless the abuse is heinous. In that case, the victim should not be forced to “forgive” unless or until they are ready.

        Liked by 1 person

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