For 20 years, I’ve received a ton of battering regarding the Forgiveness issue. Even the most well meaning, heartful folks cut me deeper than they’ll ever know. If you are one of those folks who suggests, pressures, rushes others into premature forgiveness, then I believe you may find something valuable in this piece. I believe there’s some real wisdom here. I write from the position of eventual forgiveness………
If you’ve grown up without out freedom, being told how to act, feel, be, do and think…. well, being told to forgive the illest of ills was just one more thing I rebelled from. I think it’s quite normal to dig your heels in and say “Fuck You” to forgiveness. We have a right to feel enraged. That is extremely healthy. Somehow, letting go of all the body memories, visualizations, damage PREMATURELY (without working with it and processing through with professional help) turns out to be, again, putting others needs in front of our own. We couldn’t express our rage as children, most young minds cannot process what is happening anyway, it’s just too overwhelming so we stuff it deep, deep inside so we can function. I celebrate my anger. Anger, responsibly expressed, is power – if you view it any other way, IMO you are completely missing the healing boat.
In my fam of origin. forgiveness was used synonymously with “you’re wrong, they’re right” and, “you’re existence is meaningless” and more vomitous, “you were at our disposal, our birthright to use you”. Good Lord. No wonder why I’ve had the one finger salute for Forgiveness. Wouldn’t you? I’m only human. And I’m only human. And I’m only human. And when humans are degraded, humiliated, controlled, and tossed aside as a material possession – one side effect of this is to feel deep hatred and revenge for your abusers….. To have any other “suggestion” of how you should handle such inhumane treatment is just almost too much to withstand. Dead serious.
IMO Some things are unforgivable – violation of your body, degradation of your life by humiliation, violence, neglect, torture, invasion, controlling your thoughts (brainwash), controlling your actions (restricting freedom – physically or mentally by put downs,degradation, etc) or restricting your movement. Unfortunately, I know of most of these, intimately.
Somehow, woven into the fabric of the crazy-ass tapestry of such a “family” is the belief that you should just forget or deny what happened and just love each other like a good Catholic family would. Just play nice for Pete’s sake, do nothing to ruin the public image of a family of perfection and beauty and success. Christ, I was not even allowed to say the word “HATE”. I convinced myself too, in order to belong and continue to HAVE a family, a roof over my head and something to eat… that I didn’t hate anyone and after all, only “mean” people spoke up when something was wrong, hurt or didn’t feel right. After all, I wasn’t a mean girl – even though my Mother would let me know how “mean” I was when I showed some independence or when I was a little too excited about an accomplishment. So confusing as a kid, but Wtf? 🙄 all of these twisted mind fuck messages and what I inherently knew about myself was all very dizzying as I tried to make sense of what came at me vs. what I thought I knew to be true.
Don’t make waves, don’t be mean, don’t listen to the whispers of intuition/spirit because only the humans in my life could possibly know what’s best for me. So FORGIVENESS ONLY- was expected – forgive and forget. Swallow the trauma like a plateful of glass shards, with a smile, and don’t forget to ask for seconds and thirds, like the good girl we know you are.
Forgiveness, in my family of origin, means that everyone else gets a free pass, whatever has transpired- wiped clean. After all, THEIR happiness and well being is MUCH more important than mine. Of course it was! I’m just a girl, a sweet nothingness, a pretty miss who will fulfill all of your wishes, I will serve you and attend to your needs even before you have any. Little miss empath, little miss hypervigilant, little miss pretty girl, ugh. More like little miss walking dead.
There’s no accountability, no responsibility, no ownership or realization for the lives that they ruined, innocence shattered, self esteem poisoned.
Forgiveness is further complicated (on my path) by a perpetrator who tells me that all of my probs as an adult- are caused by me, still thinking about what he did to me and that “the ball is in my court and I can choose to forget about what I think because nothing really happened anyway” 😳🤬🤬🤬🤬😩. No words.
Forgiveness eludes me further with my “Mother”. It is incredibly damaging when your Mom denies the existence of trauma. Refuses to speak of it. Didn’t bat an eye or shed a tear when I told her about it. (Found out she’s always known about it – but that’s another blog entirely). She’s always been purposefully stifling and extremely controlling. She’s also masterful in denying the reality around her (like it’s her job)- crazy woman – and so traumatized herself (I’ll save that for another time).
How many times have we heard this? FORGIVENESS IS FOR YOU, NOT FOR THE OTHER PERSON. Damn Straight It’s For Yourself. Setting yourself free from the assaults on your existence. Setting yourself apart from the crazy unreality that DENIES YOUR REALITY. We forgive only after we have regained ENOUGH of ourselves so we feel as whole as we are comfortable with. As solid as is necessary to intimately know that they couldn’t wipe us off the map, they were not able to take our life and now we’ve made a fabulous existence in spite of what was done to us. THIS. This is what forgiveness is.
Forgiveness is winning. Opening our eyes to all the unspeakable, the unknown and still be a breathing, vibrant, living, shining, beautiful example of truth and authenticity. This, my friends, is the best revenge there is. To excel despite…. Anything less that this is fucking yourself again, putting yourself last on the “worthy” list, on top of everything else that’s transpired.
I forgive myself for hating my body, I forgive myself for not having a voice, I forgive myself for coming when they called me, I forgive myself for hating my existence, I forgive myself for wanting to die when I was 7, I forgive myself for trying to die, I forgive myself for believing that I was small, I forgive myself for wanting to kill everyone and everything, I forgive myself for not letting people, good people, in. I forgive myself for letting the wrong people in, I forgive myself for thinking I could do something to make my Mother understand, I forgive myself for trying so hard to get my Mother to believe what I was saying, I forgive myself for wanting to be invisible, I forgive myself for thinking I was a bad girl, I forgive myself for hating my father for dying of cancer, I forgive myself for being so compliant, all I wanted was to belong, to be loved, seen and heard.
Turns out, FORGIVENESS is really not about anyone else but ourselves. HOLDING ONTO OUR TRAUMA FOR AS LONG AS WE NEED TO – IS NOT HARMFUL…Do I need to say that again? HOLDING ONTO OUR TRAUMA FOR AS LONG AS WE NEED TO – IS NOT HARMFUL. it will wait for you to gather strength. It’s already in us, it has been patient thus far.
Please, if you get nothing else from this piece, please do not insist that someone forgive and “MOVE ON” ! Maybe it’s not in the cards that they EVER forgive. That is entirely a personal choice. You’re basically asking them to stop being so angry, stop acting ALIVE and REAL, you’re asking them to deny what really happened and just be happy for Christ’s sake – because YOU’LL feel better. Maybe check in with what you’ll have to feel if THEY don’t change – because that is the REAL reason you’re having difficulty with THEIR struggle……hmmmmmmm. Best