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?
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