Forgiveness is always a huge issue and a hot topic with survivors of any kind of abuse or trauma that was inflicted by another person. A lot of people preach and teach that forgiveness is the ONLY way to personal freedom and recovery. I think that is a wrong. I think being told that is like being re-abused. I think that forgiveness is a RESULT of the healing process BUT I had to set the whole issue of forgiveness aside while I did my healing work.
Because only when I set that issue aside was I able to look at the whole picture from a new angle. I was able to look at it through the grid of the truth instead of through what was being dictated to me and all the false teachings around the forgiveness directives.
As someone who has personally recovered from childhood sexual abuse and dissociated identity disorder as well as multiple chronic depressions, forgiveness was not the key to recovery for me. I understand today that forgiveness is not saying “what they did is okay” and I also understand that there is no point in forgiving someone that isn’t sorry other than to set myself free BUT I was not able to forgive (EVEN for the purpose of setting myself free) when I had not even processed the trauma or abuse events through the grid of truth. There was a step missing in there; freedom doesn’t come by sweeping the whole issue under the carpet. Freedom and emotional healing comes from facing the truth about what actually happened and validating it.
In each case of abuse or trauma I had to look at the results of that trauma. I was used, unprotected, and not valued and it was inferred or outright stated that I had some responsibility in it. The abuser was NEVER questioned! My feelings were invalidated. The truth about what really happened was also invalidated. For each instance where I had been mistreated, devalued, oppressed, suppressed, and not allowed to have a voice or a defense ~ I had to look at the real truth. Who did it? Could I have prevented it? Did I really “ask for it”. Did I bring it on myself or deserve it? The answer was always no. I had to place the blame and responsibility for those events and that mistreatment back on the people who were responsible for them in the first place. And I had to validate myself; YES I was abused. Yes I was mistreated and my feelings about it were shut down and invalidated. AND that was wrong.
We are told to forgive people who are not seeking forgiveness. It is confusing that so often these people didn’t “ask” for forgiveness because they denied that they ever did anything wrong in the first place. In this case it is “other” people telling me that I HAD to forgive as a solution to my distress. I still remember feeling insane around this stuff. The abusers denied everything and I am told to just forgive what they said they didn’t do? It felt to me like even the people telling me to get over it and forgive, were also denying (agreeing) that it ever happened.
And when abusers expect forgiveness when still denying they ever did anything wrong it is even WORSE! This one is a huge part of the fog storm that survivors live in. Statements like “WHY can’t you just get over it; forgive and forget” mixed in with statements like “you are full of crap ~ that never happened” and “OH you are so dramatic and tell such big lies” is crazy making, manipulating and very confusing. Consider that for a minute. We are told that we are unreasonable and defective for “holding a grudge” but at the same time we are told that the event we hold a grudge for never happened in the first place! And then we are asked to forgive. (to forgive something that they deny they ever did!)
Forgiveness makes more sense to me when meant for those that have repented from their wrong doing and actually feel BAD about it and really know the damage they did. There was a fine line in there between the fact that I needed to forgive so that I didn’t live in the resentment and terror of what they did to me and the fact that I was trying to forgive people that still deny what they did!
Having said that, it was imperative that I put myself, my process of recovery and my emotional healing first, before I even considered how I felt about the people that had abused me.
What set me free was finally understanding what happened to me and believing that I had nothing to do with the abuse. I did not make any decisions that caused the abuse, devaluing treatment and lack of protection and I did not bring it on myself as I was always led to believe. Even in Christian society, there was this “indication” that first of all, I must have done something wrong, and that I could not get over it because I didn’t have enough faith and that if I could just ‘forgive’ (what was denied ever happened) then I would be set free.
Do you see how this goes round and round? Do you see the fog storm involved with these teachings? Do you see the brainwashing that we have lived with in this area??
These were the lies that were taught to me that I accepted as truth. I felt like something was wrong with me because I could not seem to just “do it”.
My whole entire life I believed that it was up to me to have prevented it, and it all spiraled down to something I did wrong. In the depths of my heart I believed that it was all my fault. I had to set that straight and embrace the life giving truth.
The fear (of abuse and abusers) also ate me alive and I realized that my fears were about the powerlessness I had when I was a child and had carried those fears and reactions forward into my adult life. It was only when I finally understood that it was NOT my fault in any way, that I began to recover, and eventually I was truly free to live life as a whole and functional person. Then the fears dissipated because finally I knew that I wasn’t powerless anymore. I knew that none of what happened was my fault and so much of the fear was based around the fact that when I thought it WAS my fault I didn’t know what I did to cause the abuse. If I didn’t even know what I did to cause it or why I deserved it, I lived in the constant fear of causing it again.
When I was free of the false beliefs, I was also free to forgive, but what forgiveness “feels” like for me is just that I was able to let go of the hated, anger, bitterness and frustration. I don’t need to PROVE to them that it isn’t my fault that all this happened or even prove that it did happen. I don’t’ need them to HEAR me anymore. I hear myself and I have my support system. I do not need to “tell” the abusers who deny ever having abused me that I forgive them. I don’t feel much emotion around them anymore. The anger has dissipated. They don’t rule my life anymore and they don’t define me anymore. They can no longer tell me what to do or how to feel. I am my own person today and another sign of my freedom is that I know they can’t hurt me anymore. I am no longer afraid.
Life is so much better now! Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I appreciate each one of you.
The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing. Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing –
Related posts: click any title to read Forgive the Abusers ~ A bit of a Rant