Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of forgiveness.
When I was really stuck in the trenches in November and December, working through trauma and dealing with family–motherly–issues, I found myself really holding onto the idea of an apology.
You see, as a grown up who is just now realizing exactly how sad and traumatic and lonely my childhood was, I started seeing just how unjust it was. With that sense of injustice, came a need for…vindication.
However…that vindication, that need for the people who hurt me–who continue–to hurt me, to own up to what they did and apologize?
Well…that just isn’t ever going to happen.
I was finally able to realize that and I had some strong, soul healing realizations. But, at the same time, the concept of forgiveness still permeated my sense of compassion and politeness.
Only, this time, it made me wonder: do I need to forgive them for what they did in order to heal?
People are, I think, encouraged to forgive others on a fairly consistent basis.
From a religious standpoint, forgiveness is something humans ask for, and something humans should be humble enough to extend to others–at least, so we are taught.
From a more mental health standpoint, I frequently see quotes that say something to the extent of, “Forgive others not for them, but for your own peace.”
There is, however, a hard, stubborn line inside of me. A line that says, No way. Why should I forgive them after EVERYTHING that they have done? I have given enough.
I am a loyal and forgiving person. Heck, I am a really nice person. My history shows that I am way more likely to forgive everyone, all the time, than I am to take care of my own needs. Forgiving others, even after they do awful things to me, is my status quo.
But, I am finding that my status quo is shifting. I am learning–feeling–my own sense of self worth. Once that began to happen, it became much harder to claim responsibility for the things that other people were doing to hurt me.
So, the question remains: Do I need to forgive them in order to heal?
…I don’t think I do.
Perhaps I would feel differently if the attacks weren’t still happening.
But they are.
Does that make me a bad person? A person who lacks compassion.
No. I don’t think so.
And, I am stronger. I know what I deserve.
Forgiving them would not bring me peace. It would not mean that all this stuff didn’t happen. It would not change their behavior. It would not set me free from anything.
They are responsible for their behavior.
And I am responsible for mine.
I exist—independently—from the ropes that have so long tied me, and my sense of responsibility, to the people who hurt me the most.
THAT is what I need to know to heal.
Forgiveness? Maybe someday it will come. But at this point, it would most definitely feel like it is for their sake…not mine.
I can heal without it.