Forgiveness

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
I know it's come up before, but it's been a while since a thread has been made on this subject.

My T and I were talking about forgiveness, specifically regarding my dad. He didn't just abuse me, he abused my brother and mother. He abused animals. I don't know if I can forgive that. I told my T, I'm stuck on the idea that forgiving is the same as condoning. He's shown no remorse for the things he's done, that also makes it hard. And, this may be messed up, but I'm also stuck on forgiving him for the things he did to others. Especially animals. Like I could probably forgive him for what he's done to me (not all my parts agree) but not some of the other things he's done. Like he once killed a family pet.

And it seems like everyone talks about forgiveness as a necessary step of healing, but is it really? My T asked what forgiveness of him would look like. And even if I forgave, it's not like I'd have more than a distant, polite relationship. I don't feel the need to be near him. Maybe he's changed in recent years, but I sincerely doubt it. He can be cruel, vindictive, sexist, fat-shaming, etc. That's not something I want to be part of. Yes, I need to let go of the power he still holds over us, but does that require forgiveness?
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
does that require forgiveness?
No, and I don’t know how to explain but I want to try.

For me, the best way I understand it is that my old self had an idea of forgiveness that was not helpful for me but helpful for the abusers.

I don’t know what forgiveness looks like with my newer self but I think it might not be an action on my part, but rather a shift in my internal feelings toward someone. A shift toward non-feeling about that person based on the work I’m doing on my own shit. 🤷
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
No, I don't feel forgiveness is part of recovery. If that were so, in my case, I would not be as far along as I am. I feel there are some people that might deserve forgiveness from our past. But that is up to us to discern and decide about. But there are also some that will never deserve forgiveness in my life.

Forgiveness looks to me, like I am not willing to carry around the hurt and damage done by choices others made. It isn't about them at all. It's about me and what I can hold or let go of. It's more of a 'letting go'. It does NOT absolve them of the pain they causes. It just means I'm not willing to carry it anymore. And it took a long time for me to forgive some.

There are two in my life that did not get forgiveness. What they got was indifference. The sperm donor and the Evil Sister (how they are referred to in my diary). I finally got to where I just didn't care anymore. Not about their action or them. Period. To me, indifference is more powerful than forgiveness for those that hurt me the most. That did the most damage.

I've always heard the opposite of love is hate. I am not a hater. That takes too much energy and makes things too dark in my soul. I feel that the opposite of love is indifference. The love I feel for my mom remains. The other two, indifference.

I'm in the process of forgiving my son for taking his own life. I know from experience, it takes time. And as memories come up that make me smile, I am grateful. For memories that come up that hurt, I try my best to forgive. Because he will live in my heart and soul forever.

I don't know if this helped or made it more confusing. But be OK with whatever you decide. A person like you described your dad, I would have to become indifferent because he doesn't deserve forgiveness. At least not in my life.

I hope you find what helps you heal. That is the most important thing.

I forgave my Mother. She still lives in my heart. The other two? I never think about them unless something like this comes up.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I see things in two ways. Forgiving someone when they couldn't help themselves. When they didn't intend to cause the harm they did. Is much easier. Because we can say that being different was beyond their capabilities.
However, forgiving someone when they did intend harm. Or what they did was deliberate. Or they got sadistic enjoyment out of it. That, for me, is something I can't forgive. As they had choices and they chose to harm..
Just my take on it..

Forgiveness is such a tricky thing.
People do say it helps with healing. But I'm not sure I have found that path, or anything near it.

Acceptance is easier. Accepting it happened and that it wasn't our fault, that is easier. (no walk in the park, but easier).
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
to my heavily psychotheraputed senses, forgiveness is not about the other person. it is about healing the damage done. whether the perpetrator continues to be or ever was a part of my life, or not is irrelevant. my goal is healing and i do believe that forgiveness helps with healing. the resentment, etc., of unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. i do not believe i have achieved forgiveness until i can think of them with compassionate serenity.

healing hopes for all. no exceptions.

Acceptance is easier. Accepting it happened and that it wasn't our fault, that is easier. (no walk in the park, but easier).

acceptance is my first step in the process. how can i achieve the healing mojo of forgiveness until i have achieved honestly serene awareness and acceptance of the damage and the need TO forgive. one step at a time. itsy bitsy baby steps.
 

Friday

Moderator
And it seems like everyone talks about forgiveness as a necessary step of healing, but is it really?
I wasn’t raised Christian, although I spent several years in Christian countries, the majority of my childhood was in the East. So the whole forgiveness-schtick of Christianity isn’t really part of my cultural identity, much less a central/core value. It’s not “the right” thing to do, never mind “necessary” for anything.

I’ve spent soooooo much time in the West I can kinda/sorta/maybe wrap my head around it being important to most people raised in the culture. It’s simply not a belief I share. Nor would care to.
 

Sideways

Moderator
Yes, I need to let go of the power he still holds over us, but does that require forgiveness?
To me, this is much more important. Fwiw, none of my Ts have suggested forgiving my abusers is necessary or recommended it. Some of them, I'm quite sure, don't believe forgiveness is appropriate.

We explored forgiveness a lot in the trauma unit - and for a lot of us, forgiveness wasn't part of our healing journey beyond forgiving ourselves.

I believe you can be a good person, without forgiving people who have wronged you. Particularly people who have committed grave wrongs, or repeated wrongs. The capacity to forgive people is great, not being an overwhelmingly resentful person is great, but to me it's not an absolute. It isn't always appropriate or helpful or sensible (let alone valuable).

Forgiveness has value in and of itself for some people, which is totally fine. Same way some people value "getting closure". Different personal values call for different healing processes.
 

Teasel

MyPTSD Pro
I remember seeing an episode of Oprah on child sex abuse where they were saying it's necessary to forgive your abuser, and I kind of think f*ck that noise.

And I remember a few years ago when I realised I'd become ever such a resentful person. Letting go of some of that was really good for me. I don't know that that equates to forgiveness though.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you all, your replies have been helpful.

I felt relief at the idea I don't have to forgive. I wonder why I feel I have to forgive? The first thing that comes to mind is my family told me I have to. Sigh.

Acceptance...hmm... What does acceptance look like? I may have to think about that.

I'm in the process of forgiving my son for taking his own life. I know from experience, it takes time. And as memories come up that make me smile, I am grateful. For memories that come up that hurt, I try my best to forgive. Because he will live in my heart and soul forever.

I've lost several friends to suicide. It's such a hard thing and forgiving definitely takes time. I can't imagine how painful the process would be for a son.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
I have found that in life, there are things that are unforgivable. The dictionary says it is ceasing to feel resentment but to me, resentment is a part of forgiveness.

Things that were done purposefully, with knowledge of forethought, and are purposefully hurtful, physically or mentally, requires true contrition on the part of the offender for forgiveness. In other words - forgiveness is a two party thing.

How I feel about events - can change over time. I can rationalize those events as being in the past. I can understand those people are no longer part of or affecting my life.

But forgiving them requires them understanding the true damage they did and realizing that they can never be trusted or allowed to be part of my life again.
 

PlainJane

Moderator
I think all depends on the definition you accept. I go with dictionary definition. Forgiveness is getting rid of resentment, it has nothing to do with reconciliation.

I can forgive people without ever having to trust them, without being a part of their lives or deaths, without any guilt of certain feelings toward them. I can be angry about something they did, without resentment. I can dislike their character in the same fashion. Forgiveness ,for me, is letting go of the hold it has one me. I am not there yet with forgiving myself. I have forgiven a few for their part, I do not have relationships with any of them. They crossed boundary you don't come back from, they hit the point where I am done. I do not accept them in my life. Forgiveness doesn't require me to. Reconciliation requires understanding for their part and action from the other party, which I neither seek nor expect.

So, by my definition, if I am healing and recovering I have to forgive.
 
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