The problem with forgiveness
Society’s approach to forgiveness has long troubled me. There always seemed to be immense pressure on people to forgive; from petty slights to heinous crimes. This pressure never struck me as particularly healthy, even before the deterioration of my own mental health.
Forgiveness has become rather sanctimonious, hasn’t it? There’s an air of smug superiority with which it’s presented. I forgive therefore I am good! I disagree. There’s no direct correlation at all between how ‘good’ a person is and how forgiving they claim to be as far as I’m concerned. And those who struggle to forgive (who are, perhaps, more honest with themselves?) should not be shamed or berrated for struggling to forgive someone. Especially if what they are supposed to forgive was deeply harmful. Nor should they be shamed for not wanting to forgive someone for that matter. Hell, are we even allowed to not want to forgive somebody?
Forgiveness has become a rod to beat those already struggling with emotional turmoil with.
I don’t forgive
I do not forgive the perpetrators of the events that led to my depression. There are a great great many things in my life I feel guilty or bad for, this is not one of them. At this stage, I don’t even want to. Oh, I’m not hell bent on revenge (anymore) mostly because I don’t have the energy. Kidding!! I was never a cruel person. The bad things I did, when I was lashing out every which way, they were driven by many complex murky grey yucky painful things but not by a nature that’s cruel.
Not that the desire for revenge is necessarily cruel; it’s completely understandable, normal, human and relatable in many cases. But there’s a difference between having the instinct to take vengeance and actually acting upon that instinct. The latter is foolish at best. Abhorrent at worst. the urge to take vengeance resides within me because I’m a human with human emotions but it goes against my general disposition (does that makes sense?).
The wounds are too deep
I do not forgive my perpetrators.
One expressed regret, yet has not accepted full responsibility for the effect their actions had on my mental health. As for the other … Ha!! Chance would be a fine thing. I do not forgive the enablers, who refuse to acknowledge their role in the saga at all, either.
The wounds are too deep, the pain was too distressing, the consequences have been too great. I have spent the vast majority of my adult years grappling with depression. A decade of my life. My children will never have childhood memories of a mother who had sound mental health. Or at least, it’s unlikely. They have been denied the full potential of the mother that I could have been if not hindered by depression. That alone is unforgivable.
It’s not OK
If I were to forgive them, that would be as if I were accepting what was done to me. As if I were saying “it’s ok”. It’s not. I do not. And I do not want to.
I stopped attending a course of hypnotherapy recently in part because the therapist put such an emphasis on forgiveness. She would say I need to forgive to move on. I disagreed. She insinuated that if I disagreed the process would fail. I agreed.
I do not feel that forgiving those who wronged me is the path for me at this time. If ever. It may be that forgiveness comes as a by product of healing. But maybe it won’t. And faking it, claiming I forgive to satisfy the needs of others, where’s the sense in that?
This does not make me a bad person. It’s just not how I will heal.
Forgiveness is good… if genuine
Many people do of course find peace of mind and salvation through the forgiving of others. Forgiveness is a good thing, providing it isn’t forced or hollow or otherwise insincere. In order for it to be healing, one has to mean it. Or else risk complicating things and causing yourself even more damage.
You are not a bad person if you find you can’t forgive someone. It is in fact pretty natural to not forgive someone. And it is possible to find ways of moving on without forgiving those who hurt you. To suggest one cannot is really quite narrow minded in my view. It’s the pigeonholing of you in textbook ideas about human psychology. And as for the society that pressurises us all so very sanctimoniously to forgive …. well, there’s much about society that’s rather stupid isn’t there?
Reproduced with permission, originally posted on whatkirstydid