“Forgive: to grant pardon for or remission of; to absolve; to give up all claim on account of; to cease to feel resentment against.”
“Forgiveness: the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”
I have heard many times that we cannot truly heal until we can forgive. Am I the only one out there that believes this isn’t true? What is this need out there to forgive? This demand that it must be done in order to move forward? I understand there is a religious quotient to this but even some non-religious people say it. I guess my question is – why? Why should I have to forgive those who intentionally and willfully hurt me?
To me, forgiveness and moving forward are not synonymous. They are two separate actions and I truly believe you can have each without the other. I can tell you right now, while I did forgive my father, I don’t know if I will ever forgive my brother. I do know that I will never forgive my sisters; for me they did the one unforgivable thing – they messed with and used my child! I shouldn’t have to forgive that. I can deal with it, accept it and move forward but I do not want nor need to forgive.
I guess the way I see it, rather than “forgive”, we need to accept something before we can move forward – accept what happened, accept that we may never know why, accept that we can’t change what happened or the people involved; accept our involvement if any, accept how it changed us, accept that life is ours to make from here forward. Some may say that to forgive and to accept are the same thing but I believe that to forgive means to say it was okay – okay that it happened, okay what they did, and I just can’t say that.
“I forgave him not for him, but for myself, so I could move on.” What?? What exactly does that even mean? I have heard people say this and I just don’t get it. Good for them if that was what they needed, seriously, I mean that. But for others, it is not what we need. Some of us feel no need to forgive, only to accept and move forward. I can’t and won’t absolve someone of child abuse, what was done to me sexually, what was done to me and my son emotionally.
So for those who can’t forgive, let me say to you – you don’t have to! If one day you naturally come to it, that’s great. Please don’t stress over the fact that you can’t, won’t or have not been able to yet. We each get through trauma in our own way, at our own pace. Release the external expectations and outside influences and be true to your trauma and to yourself – not to anyone or anything else.