Let’s talk about FORGIVENESS

I have undoubtedly been having a difficult time as of late.

It is a lot of things, truthfully. Relationships are hard. I am at this point where I am so cognizant of the things that I do automatically (like talking to myself negatively) and yet, I cannot quite get to a point where I can stop doing that.

For example–I know I shouldn’t rely on other people for my worth. I know that can lead to a lot of emptiness and that it subjects me to the whims of other people. Yet, I still feel a lot. I worry about my relationships. I internalize negative beliefs about myself in my marriage (for example, I am not sexy enough. I am fat. I can’t turn my husband on because I am gross). I worry about abandonment and the inevitable moment when people that I love will see me the way that I see me…and then I will lose them.

I worry about being alone.

And yet…I also know that, to be healthy, I shouldn’t worry about any of these things.

It. Is. Frustrating.

Thursday evening I was feeling emotional and vulnerable. I went to a strength training class and then popped into my church’s bible study. For once, I decided to go ahead and share some of my more vulnerable feelings.

I heard the often recommended statement, “It helps to forgive. Forgive the people who hurt you. It isn’t for THEM. It is for you.”

For some reason, I have a HUGE problem with this. I think, in fact, that it is complete and utter bullshit. And, I told them that.

Three older women, all with their own mother/family-of-origin problems looked at me sadly, knowingly.

Like I am wrong.

And so, naturally, I wonder, Am I wrong?

You see, I would rather learn how to let it go. Does letting it go mean that forgiveness has to happen?

Are these mutually exclusive?

Here is my problem with forgiveness: It feels like it places the burden of absolution on ME. It feels like it is yet ANOTHER thing that I am responsible for.

And, it feels wrong when I know that these people are not looking for my forgiveness, nor are they asking for it.

Why is it my JOB, my DUTY, to let them off of the hook and forgive them?

I have heard the arguments. I have heard people tell me, “But they don’t even think of it anymore. The only person on the hook is YOU.”

And…well, I suppose that is true.

But, if they do not even know, or even care how much pain they have brought me…then WHY do they deserve my forgiveness?

I don’t care if it is what Jesus would have done.

I am human. I am not divine. I do not have the strength to give my abusers one more ounce of my heart and soul and grace.

I have kept quiet. I have pleased. I have remained loyal. I have tried and tried and tried to be who I they told me I was supposed to be.

And I don’t have the energy to do one more thing for them.

I just DON’T.

Does that mean, necessarily, that I will be stuck here forever?

Does that mean that I will never be allowed to LET IT GO?

Seriously…you tell me. What is your story? Can I move on without forgiving? I do not have any hate in my heart. I just have injustice and exhaustion.

Can I turn that around?

18 thoughts on “Let’s talk about FORGIVENESS

  1. Ashley February 18, 2018 / 7:15 pm

    Sounds like the same reason I’m not trying to make something right after someone triggered me – AFTER I SAID “NO I WILL NOT DISCUSS THAT!” multiple times. Why is that on me? Why should I reach out or let them know I’m ok? I don’t give a shit if they’re scared or upset or feel bad. I SAID NO, they didn’t listen, not my problem. That has zero to do with forgiveness, it has to do with me protecting myself.

    But that was a single incident, not a pattern, so there isn’t really the space for comparison with that scenario, other than to say I hear you when you ask why this is also on you. Because that’s exactly how it feels.

    I have forgiven the man who abused (and nearly destroyed) me, but I had to forgive myself first, in the sense that I got to a place where I could say “It happened.”, no more, no less. There was so much blaming and shaming myself, and in working through that (still am some says) I realized I had to make peace with myself first. Focusing blame and shame on him didn’t help me, because then I wanted answers and I needed to know how anyone could be so cruel, when I’ll never have those answers.

    Not that I don’t still hate him and wish him ill, but he’s out of my line of sight, and disappearing from my awareness.


    • E February 20, 2018 / 7:15 pm

      I bristle at the idea of having to forgive myself…as it feels that there is an implication that I allowed something to happen, when, in reality, I had no control over the situation.

      I’m wondering, in what way did you feel you had to forgive yourself? For feeling ashamed? For feeling like it was your fault somehow?

      I am curious…perhaps there is a part that I am not considering. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ashley February 20, 2018 / 7:23 pm

        Great question! I did feel that it was my fault FOR A LONG TIME, but finally came to understand that it was not. So, me forgiving myself was deciding not to assign the blame and shame to myself that I had been (without understanding any of that) and all of the hell that I experienced because I couldn’t understand or process it all. I guess I didn’t forgive myself in the sense that I thought that I was at fault for what happened, so much as I forgave myself for all the hell I went through before and for a while after I started recovery. I was SO hard on myself, then I felt like shit about it…there were just so many things in my brain to untangle.

        I think ultimately you get to decide where you want to be and how you get there. One thing that I am sure of in my own experience is that I cannot repeat old thought patterns and behaviors and move on. So if it’s blame thoughts or shame thoughts or rage or panic or whatever, I have to be conscious about acknowledging how I feel and what I’m thinking, and releasing that and choosing the thoughts I want to reprogram my brain with. Recovery is not an accident, it takes a shit ton of work, and if I could force that burden where it belongs I would. But it’s on me, @#$%^&, so I do the best I can and forgive myself when I can’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lavenderandlevity February 18, 2018 / 8:13 pm

    I don’t think you need to forgive, just understand. What they did was qrong, but it was done because of something that was about them, not you. Understanding the why helps, as it helps you let go of self-blame, but if anything the forgiveness is of yourself, not them. Once you really get why people do it, it’s no less wrong but no longer your responsibility to hate yourself over. So, I guess understand them to forgive yourself. No forgiveness of them required.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. myjourneythroughemdr February 18, 2018 / 9:44 pm

    It’s really great that you notice your critical voice. Even just identifying that it’s there is a step in the right direction, and eventually you can talk back to it. You can speak truth to it. You also do a great job of self care by going to strength training and bible study, even when you were feeling extra emotional and vulnerable.
    A HUGE thing that I needed in my healing was for the person that abused me to KNOW what they did. I felt that they minimized it and genuinely didn’t know the pain that they caused. I couldn’t move on in my own healing until I communicated with them what they did to me. My abuser was a family member and so I was able to write him a letter and talk to him about it. I know everyone’s healing is different and we need different things to heal. This was something that I just couldn’t get past. I think you have every right to be angry and want justice. For me, communicating the injustice to my abuser, helped me forgive him.


    • E February 20, 2018 / 7:17 pm

      I do not feel that I can tell my mother how much damage she’s done to me. She is not in a place to accept it, and she would not be sorry. She would be defensive and volatile, and I don’t trust my own reaction to her outburst. It doesn’t feel like it is worth it. But feeling what I feel, going through what I am going through, and treating her basically the same (though, admittedly, at a much bigger distance now, with much higher walls) is difficult. It complicates the process.


      • myjourneythroughemdr February 24, 2018 / 8:50 am

        That sounds incredibly difficult. It’s good that you’re able to be mindful about what’s best for you and your relationship with her. It just doesn’t make it any easier when you have to still have a relationship at some level. I’m sure it’s been helpful to heal with some more space.


  4. Scarpoe February 19, 2018 / 3:28 am

    Forgiveness is for you not them, try it. You will feel better. Also only act on the issues that you can control, nothing else matters. Be strong and carry on.


  5. grace to survive February 19, 2018 / 5:09 am

    This resonates so much for me. I easily get so caught up in who, why, when, looking at things so deeply and too often blaming myself for whatever isn’t going right in daily interactions. The negative thinking began during the childhood sexual attacks. Children blame themselves for what goes on around them. The confusing trauma of being so hurt by those so loved deeply traumatized all levels of my being turning me against myself. That cemented into rock and very hard to chip away at.
    It is very difficult to change. CSA is not forgivable. Anyone telling you do so does not know what they are talking about. But forgiving myself helps begin the process of self-love. Even if I wasn’t responsible and my mind understands that, the rest of me does not. Self-blame, self-hate and overall negativity towards myself grew as part of my personality. Forgiving myself is ongoing and takes daily work. It is tiring! But so worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • E February 20, 2018 / 7:19 pm

      Does it seem like a double edged sword that we have to forgive ourselves for being abused? I can’t understand the logic. I do understand that we know, cognitively, that we did nothing wrong. And, I can admit that I don’t love myself, I feel shame, place blame, etc., way too much on myself…but what do I forgive myself for? For not being kind enough to me? For lacking self-compassion?


      • grace to survive February 21, 2018 / 7:45 am

        Good question.
        Yes to what you said. Maybe also for me the way I’ve abused my body with food since age 8 in order to survive. To understand and forgive it by understanding and having compassion for myself.
        For my body responding, betraying me. For not loving myself. For whatever I beat myself for; forgive, be gentle, and keep working at being gentle and forgiving. It is constant work for me. No, not my fault that my personality formed with self-hate ingrained into it, yet that is what I need to do now to unwrap the past and go forward.


  6. createdandcalled February 19, 2018 / 8:28 am

    I have had to approach forgiveness from 2 angles. The first approach was in going back to specific situations and reliving it again and crying out to God in my anger against Him and those who hurt me – being brutally honest and raw in my pain – and something was shifted and broken off of my spirit that needed to be. I then forgave God and those who were responsible for my pain. It felt strange to be angry and then forgiving with God. I didn’t treat it lightly. For me, expressing the core of my anger at Him somehow meant that I trusted Him more wholly than I had before. He is bigger and able. Being angry with God was more my issue than being angry with the humans. I was able to forgive them much more completely than ever before, after I allowed my rage out in full force with God.
    The second approach has been to bless those who have hurt me. Even when I do it through gritted teeth to begin with and do not feel like it. I ask God to bless them with peace, everytime I am overwhelmed with a trigger. It took years but the triggers became fewer and less powerful until now – where I hardly ever recall the people or situations and feel nothing negative remains. This approach is from Matthew 10 and Luke 10. When Jesus sent out his disciples, He told them to bless the house they were in with peace. If a man of peace lived there – then the disciple’s peace would rest upon that home. But if the man was not a man of peace, then the peace would return to the disciple. In utilizing this approach, I have been amazed at how it has released me from the relationships and all the junk attached. It is the only way I have found peace with a few people/circumstances of the past. It also is the practice that happened prior to my being able to release it all in forgiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • E February 20, 2018 / 7:22 pm

      You sound much stronger in your belief. I flounder in mine. I want to believe that there is a God, because then it means that I am loved just because he created me. I want to know that I can have a relationship with him…but that, too, feels complicated because what does this one-sided relationship look like? How is it gratifying? I am trying to find my truth. But the trauma, pain, and push to forgive before I am ready make it all the more difficult.


      • createdandcalled February 20, 2018 / 10:48 pm

        These are good questions to struggle with. For me, I’ve relied on my relationship with God and can’t imagine trying to heal or manage the difficult parts of my life without Him. I respect that you are on your own path and still figuring your beliefs out. If you ever want to talk about christianity or christian perspectives more, I’m willing. If you ever would like me to pray for you, I’m willing to do that too.


  7. Luftmentsch February 19, 2018 / 12:10 pm

    I guess that, being Jewish, I approach this differently. I Judaism there is no obligation to forgive people who aren’t penitent and haven’t tried to make amends. So I don’t see that you should feel under an obligation to forgive people who hurt you like that. However, you might want to try to draw a line under it somehow and move on, but I don’t know how you can do that. (I can’t do it in my life either. And I can’t stop relying on other people for my self-worth as well.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • E February 20, 2018 / 7:24 pm

      Thank you. I think that is exactly how I feel. It is difficult to imagine apologizing to someone who IS NOT sorry. Or who would never take responsibility for what they’ve done. That is hard.

      So hard.

      I want to just learn to let it go. Not necessarily forgive…but just, I don’t know…acknowledge that it happened, I’ve healed and/or am healing, and move on?

      But, always, my question is: how???

      Sounds like we are walking the same struggle. ❤


  8. HerdingChickens February 28, 2018 / 5:03 am

    Honey you have every right to your own feelings. I hate that we teach children to quickly respond with “it’s ok” when someone apologizes to them. Sometimes it’s NOT ok. I think that giving voice to your feelings and validating then helps you to move on. When we first brought our kids home for adoption they couldn’t voice their feelings. It took almost a year before they were able to process anger alongside of their love for their bio parents. Having mixed feelings, heck ANY feelings, is part of the human experience. For our kids, processing their trauma in TF CBT was the only way that it stopped having so much power over them. Forgiveness? Nah. They just had more control and more understanding. They were important enough to be HEARD no matter what their feelings. That is what I hope for you. I hope platforms like this help you to feel heard. I hear you.


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