What is Forgiveness

I know, this post is very similar to one I made in the past, but this issue is bothering me. I’m getting so much pressure from people to forgive. I’m reading online seeing people say things like this (partial quote):

Forgiveness doesn’t need to have anything to do with the other person really at all. Its all about you. F**k the other person.

Forgiveness is about accepting what happened to you and compassion for yourself. That’s the hardest part sometimes. There’s almost an anger with yourself for allowing it or not being able to prevent it. In fact you’re so angry over the situation that you don’t want to accept anything about it. You may want to reject that whole time in your life. Or the place that it happened. Or people that look like/remind you of whoever it is that hurt you.

No. If forgiveness was about forgiving yourself, we would not phrase it as “you need to forgive [abuser]”. There would be no one telling you to forgive [abuser] and move past it, without any remorse etc. from your abuser(s). They would not be telling you to keep your abuser in your life. You would not be expected to treat that person (or those people) with the respect they DO NOT deserve.

If forgiveness was for the victim, not the abuser/bully/perp. then the statement would sound completely different. It would be “you need to forgive yourself”, or “you need to deal with this, and decide how you want to deal with your [abuser]”

Sadly what most people seem happy to ignore is the fact that, usually, this abuse isn’t something that has or will stop. So they say “you need to let go of the past” and can’t seem to understand that we want to. But how do you get passed something, when you can’t heal because the scars aren’t given enough time to heal before they are ripped open again? I wish I knew, because you know what. I’m tired, so bloody tired of living my past over and over again. I want to forgive, to reconcile, to move past this all. But, to borrow some imagery from a book I read (thank  you Anne Bishop) it’s like this giant infected wound in my chest, and it keeps getting bigger the more I’m hurt. It hasn’t popped yet. But I wish I knew how to make it, how to clean it out and let it heal. And I think most of use want to do so.

But when we keep getting pushed to do something that just keeps us open to more abuse. When we are pushed to forgive our abusers, to forgive everything that happens to us, how do we learn to do more then just push it all inside, where it forms those big balls of infected pain. How can we heal, when we are told that the only person who is responsible for the abuse is ourselves, since we are told that we cannot hold our abuser accountable for their actions, rather we must explain them away, by thinking “it’s the way they were raised”, “they are mentally ill”, “they only do it because they are/were abused”  etc. When we are told that we must keep allowing them to abuse us, else we are being disrespectful, rude, dishonourable, bad, etc. We are told we must be the compassionate ones, we must be the better person.

No matter who says it. The common usage of the word is to pardon the behaviour, with no consequences, thus condoning the behaviour. We need a better word for what we expect victims to do, since forgiveness will never change enough to fit well enough. No matter what people (even medical professionals) try to tell us that it doesn’t mean to condone the abuse.

 

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2 comments on “What is Forgiveness

  1. Forgiveness is a muti-faceted gem. I say “gem” because I have found many treasures for myself in the digging process of forgivenes. We must keep the lessons learner deep in our hearts, and let go of the anger, hurt, and sadness of the abuse that was done. This takes time, courage, and love for our own scars and wounds. Yet some wounds run so deeply that it can takes years of self-excavation to finally reach them and let in the light. It’s not always an easy process, but I have found it works for me. Excellent points made in this blog…and very revelant to the issues of abuse. Thanks for reading and sharing my bolt as well. 🙂

    • That’s awesome, that you have found forgiveness helpful. I would probably find it more helpful, if the people I’m expected to forgive showed some regret or remorse over their actions. Or if, where I am now, I was allowed to ‘punish’ them by placing boundaries that they wouldn’t object to. Or if the people in question (with one exception) treated me with respect. Since they haven’t done one thing to make it easier for me to forgive them (in fact having these people in my life makes it hard to move past my issues), they don’t deserve it, and I can’t give it. I can try to work through it, and accept that it happened and I can’t change it. But I cannot forgive. My latest (or one of my latest posts, about how I dwell on things might help you understand where I’m coming from. (lost on logic and reaffirmation)

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