Jump to content
Mental Support Community

Why?


amberlyn
 Share

Recommended Posts

Something I've been dealing with for a while is a burning question within myself: Why?

I've had several abusers in my past & through much counseling, I've learned to get through the day without panicking all of the time. I rarely have flashbacks anymore (well, not as often as I used to) and I feel somewhat more in control of my life. Something that I've continuously heard though is that I need to FORGIVE my abusers; I shouldn't hold onto the anger, hatred, etc. But my question, again, is why? What is so important about forgiving them? They did horrible, terrible things to me that no one should ever have done to them. They made me hate myself & think of myself as worthless and unlovable. They don't DESERVE forgiveness. And quite frankly, I don't mind harboring the anger. It's not interfering with my daily life. [shrug]

If anyone can explain this to me, I might actually consider it. And please leave out the religion. I'm not religious; I'm spiritual ... so the whole "we should forgive others as God forgives us" isn't much of an argument for me. No offense intended to any belief system. I respect all beliefs. I just wanted you all to understand that before giving that explanation. :) Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good morning Linda and Amberlyn,

I think we're all in the same boat-- between the ages of 1 and 14, I grew up under a violent and brutal dictatorship, and throughout those years (and even when first living in the US when Americans were just as brutal against migrant workers), I was a victim (now a survivor) of >1000 incidents of abuse, molestation and torture. I think I understand pain, lost life, not having a childhood, forgiveness and not forgiving quiet well.

Asking someone who has been deeply wounded to simply forgive and let it go, I think, is to lack intuition, understanding and compassion. I'm not sure anyone of us is in a position to challenge your need to re-feel your pain by not forgiving, after all, it keeps you safe as you both suggest.

For me, I developed my defenses (not forgiving those who hurt me and my entire family) to comfort myself, but as I aged I began to ask myself if these defenses truly comfort me, or maybe they hinder me. Do they give me a limp and do I still need that limp >50 years after the events occurred?

Too often, the defenses I set up to have greater control of my life soon became the rope that takes over and controls me. Mortal wounds are like having bound feet and we notice them most when we unbind them b/c it's then that we feel that pain again. In the process of keeping my binding alive and tightly wrapped, I sometimes made the mistake of passing by someone who could unbind me and set me free.

Not forgiving and being possessed by anger and painful memories became a substitute for fully living... it became what I lived for, and it seems that all three of us are or have been here. Over time I realized I needed to renew my anger, my hurt and my pain so that I could keep myself from forgiving, and b/c it kept me from becoming vulnerable. But it was like the howling of the wind in the night-- a temporary fix for a lonely and alone heart. There is and was no safety in being alone and frightened inside, there is and was no safety in reliving and rekindling my decision to never forgive-- these things robbed me of the joy of life.

At some point one has to determine how much truth they can absorb and how conscious they want to be. Unable to forgive others also means we cannot cross the bridge to find ourselves for we have forced much of who we are to live on the wrong side of the river, tethered to trees called pain, anger, un-forgiveness and self protection.

Forgive, yes: forget, never-- it is in not forgetting that I stay strong and aware. It is in not forgiving that I sell my soul to "doing the devil's work", which is to use my resources to sustain, service and repeatedly rebuild that scaffolding that supports my pain, my memory and my need to self protect even when doing so is no longer necessary and may hinder me. One soon has to decide how much they want to fully live and how much they want to remain un-alive and a prisoner to their ransomed life.

One man's view,

David

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forgiveness. Holding on to anger may keep you from moving away from your own personal pain. When you let go of negative and resentful feelings, it frees up your resources and allows you the freedom to use this energy on yourself in positive ways. The memories still remain, but the wounds may heal more efficiently with less residual scarring. It clears the path of old clutter and enables you to more clearly see and recognize your own true self...absent of the actions of others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't agree, I believe it is perfectly fine not to forgive. I do not forgive those people who assaulted me. I discussed it in therapy, got very angry and have now moved on. But I will never forgive them, they were normal intelligent men who took advantage of me, a vulnerable child.

Goose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, apparently I brought up a topic that hits home for more people than I thought. Thank you all for your responses.

I think I can understand the point of view that forgiveness opens up an area to let in joy, happiness, self-discovery, etc. I would, honestly, probably be much happier with my life if I were able to do that. But then stands the question, can I? I mean, I just hold so much hostility toward so many people who have done numerous wrong things to me ... I know I'm a strong person, but am I really that strong? I definitely know that forgiveness is easier said than done. I'm just not sure that I know HOW to forgive. Where would I even start?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You could start by looking at their life. Not for their sake but for yours. Why were they so mean? What kind of background did they come from? Was someone mean to them? Sometimes it’s a vicious circle that must be broken.

Forgiveness helps us to do that, and that helps us to get on with our own life. We decide that we are not going to waste anymore of our precious time and energy on hating these people. While we still do that, they are still hurting us. It’s time to forgive if not forget - for our own health and wellbeing not theirs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bluerose

I think what you are talking about is understanding what led the perpetrator to act that way. I can understand that, I can empatise with difficulties they had but forgiveness , no. The only people I would be able to forgive is those with diminished responsibility.

I'm sorry I did not realize that I felt so strongly about this.

Goose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Goose,

No need to be sorry, no need to apologise for how you feel. I hated my dad for twenty years - after he died! And I hated my mum for putting up with it. No one is saying you have to forgive them. All that’s being said here is that, in the long term, some of us are only hurting ourselves more by holding onto the hate. That’s all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rose, you made an interesting statement: "...some of us are only hurting ourselves by holding onto the hate." I'm curious, do you (any of you) think it's possible to let go of the hate without forgiving them? There are certain abusers that I never think about & when I do, I feel nothing toward them. Not hate, disgust, pity, empathy.... nothing. But does that mean that I forgive them? I'm not sure ... Just curious on yall's take on that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

amberlyn,

Interesting question. As strange as it may sound, in my case at least, I eventually forgave them and this gradually helped the hate to fade. It didn't just stop with forgivness or suddenly go one day, it simply faded until I could forgive them again and really mean it. I hope that helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I really liked that bag of anger analogy, it made a lot of sense. I personally I have never been able to force forgiveness. I have found that I can only do it when a certain amount of time has elapsed, the heart healed, and I have some distance from the situation or person. I'm not sure it's actually forgiveness as much as it is detachment, like I don't care anymore, it's in the past and that's where I want it to stay.... I've never been able to 'choose' to forgive, it feels fake to me and does not represent any true feelings within myself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really like what all of you have said on this. Symora, I completely understand what you're saying about detachment. There are some people that, if they come up in conversation, I feel absolutely nothing toward them or our past. John, I really like the bag of anger analogy as well. It's just so very hard. So many of my friends (and even family) say that I'm such an angry person. I think that my past might have something to do with that. I know that I have the right to be angry ... but if I give up that right, well, what happens then? I've always held anger in my heart - always. I don't know how to live without it. It's scary...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...
You could start by looking at their life. Not for their sake but for yours. Why were they so mean? What kind of background did they come from? Was someone mean to them? Sometimes it’s a vicious circle that must be broken.

Forgiveness helps us to do that, and that helps us to get on with our own life. We decide that we are not going to waste anymore of our precious time and energy on hating these people. While we still do that, they are still hurting us. It’s time to forgive if not forget - for our own health and wellbeing not theirs.

I can imagine this being super difficult. If someone mistreats you the last thing you want to do is try to take their perspective. Even though it does not, it gives the perception that you are excusing an abuser because they were abused.

Even though I learned as an adult the kinds of home lives that are experienced by children who grew up in the area I grew up in, there were kids who saw drug use and violence, some in my own family, I cannot forgive them for bringing whatever problems they may have had at home to school where I had to share space with them, coming from a home with no turmoil to speak of, and making my life a living hell and disrupting my mental health to where I am still trying to overcome fear and anxiety.

This issue of forgiveness, I would say it depends on if you still have regular contact with the person, whether they seem remorseful, and whether they seem like they are trying to change. Why forgive someone you never see, or someone who doesn't act like they did anything wrong?

I don't know about others, but regardless of whether I forgive or not, and I admit I have forgotten a lot of specifics about when I was bullied, but I am still living with anxiety and other things that I have to fix that the bullying caused. And other people who were abused, whether or not they forgive their abusers, they still have to solve psychological problems that the abuser caused. I don't know that forgiveness can do that, because you still have to change behavior patterns that were created as a response to the abuse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest ASchwartz

Hi,

The issue of forgiving or not is complex. As a therapist and a human being, I do not accept most of the premise behind forgiving others when they have committed extreme harm. When someone who has been raped tells me, in session, that friends advise them to forgive the perpetrator, I cannot agree because it is too masochistic.

In addition, it seems too easy for survivors of abuse to forgive the abuser while continuing to blame themselves. Here, too, forgiveness is a practice in self punishment and masochism.

This is controversial.

What do others think?

Allan:(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest ASchwartz

Sedsed,

Of course you belong here. We welcome comments and participation in all forums. And, I fully agree with you. In fact, in my opinion, you said it excellently.:( How can someone forgive a person who has beaten and abused them and why should they???

Allan:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...