I’ve been pondering the idea, or virtue, of forgiveness lately.
Some people’s response to me about the situation between my parents and me is that I need to forgive them so I can let it go, move on. I’m slightly puzzled, because I did/have forgiven them (multiple times, as needed, every time they re-do what they always do), but somehow by me sharing my experiences means that I haven’t forgiven them and moved on.
Frankly, I don’t think I would even be in a place to share with any coherence at all if I hadn’t already forgiven them. Sharing hurtful things in my past or present doesn’t mean I don’t forgive those who did the hurting. When you’ve spent years in counseling, taken anti-depressants, talked ad nauseam to your spouse and best friend, and studied everything you can get your hands on to deal with the mangled mess that was made of your mind through childhood trauma, forgiveness is high on the list, since you know that’s a step in the direction of healing. And, most importantly, it will take away any power the offender and memories have over you.
Is silence synonymous with forgiveness? The lessons I’ve learned in my life aren’t to be shared because I’ve forgiven the offender? Is it that I’ve made folks uncomfortable with harsh realities, so therefore I haven’t forgiven? Who are we to judge whether or not someone has forgiven another person anyway? If someone doesn’t forgive their offender, is their story now to be brushed aside or somehow be less?
Do we tell the POW that he needs to forgive his captors and just move on? The rape victim, let it go? The child beaten by a parent? The innocent swindled out of their hard earned money?
I think it’s callous to tell a victim they “need to let it go”, when it’s very normal for the human mind to need to talk it out, relive it until the past has no power over today, or any way that helps the victim heal from their hurts.
I agree that there are benefits to forgiving offenders: peace of mind, happiness, better health, improved relationships. I’m not concerned with forgiving someone so that God will forgive me, because Jesus took care of that for me. I could never have done anything to make myself right with Him anyway, so I’m not talking about forgiveness in that context.
My letter had barely anything to do with the topic of forgiveness anyhow. I stated that I had already forgiven them, that I was answering the question of why I wouldn’t talk to them anymore (because they always twisted my words and never took responsibility for their actions and words), this was it, my one and final confrontation to the offenders. Before this, I planned on going the rest of my life and never saying a word, continue to treat them with love and respect – I still will treat them with love and respect. However, it became apparent that words would have to be said after my mother began to drag my siblings into it, when I wouldn’t cooperate by letting her and my dad treat my kids the same way they treated their children. And when some of my siblings treated my kids badly, too. I guess I was supposed to just let them manipulate, humiliate, and “train” my children how they wanted.
So, forgive them? Yes. Unfortunately, repeatedly. Forgiveness does not mean that I forget, allow them unfettered access (restoration) to me and mine, or be silent as they continue on in their special brand of narcissistic disorder. It’s easy to forgive someone when they acknowledge their offense and knowingly choose to try not to repeat it. It’s hard to walk in constant forgiveness when the offense is never acknowledged and stopped.
But that’s between me and my heart. For now I’ve decided to not be around them and their insanity, lessening the times my family and I have to analyze, process, discard and forgive their manipulative head games.
Besides, it’s my story, my life, and how I choose to share it is up to me. 🙂 I share because I hope to help others walk out of the hell hole that mental, emotional abuse puts you in.