What does it take for you to forgive?

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
My therapy homework this week is a thought experiment into what it would take for me to forgive various people in my life and repair fractured relationships and if that’s possible / healthy .

I tend to forgive a couple of times after a explaining an issue but then walk away from a friendship/ relationship. Even if I forgive I feel a relationship that presses hot buttons often or repeatedly is unhealthy and I can like or even love a friend without thinking being in a state of contact/ friendship with them is good for me or both of us .

I am also aware I have disorganised attachment and after wanting to be friends with someone and feeling disappointed it’s easy for me to be avoidant in my attachment. Because I am pretty conscious of this I put effort into thinking and trying to feel my way through the decisions I make - ultimately it boils down to safety and if I feel the friendship is balanced and good for me. If safety and balance ( over time) and health is present in the friendship then I’ll take some pretty bitter medicine to grow, and don’t necessarily require apologies for issues past , and can find peace in different vantage . If I feel integrity compromised, frightened ( fear happens more than it perhaps should) or deliberately misinterpreted with no goodwill in differing perceptions then I withdraw.

Like many with disorganised attachment, while rupture is as safe - route for me as for an avoidantly attached person - and my boundaries strong, the anxiety in my attachment will gnaw at me afterwards at times- not at the boundary, but at re-examining my part, play by play, blow by blow. Sometimes I am right ( abusive relationships) sometimes I think I jumped the gun but to try to return would be disruptive and damaging to the other person. Especially when something DID cause the rupture.


Forgiveness is something I have a very difficult relationship with and struggle to accept as important in dealing with trauma. for me forgiveness of past behaviour saw me stay for more , saw me accept explanation or gaslighting that what I experienced was normal parenting/ relationship/ education/ relationship. Was me expecting too much of people, this fostering a very damaging critical voice where the cycle began again but more vehemently each time.

Learning not to forgive brought breaking cycles, Strength to get out of situations, anger enough to remain away from some damaging ongoing situations .

E.g. forgiving my mother now would see me relenting and visiting her - a situation which would not be so good for me in most ways. Imagining what she might be able to do for my forgiveness is kinda futile I think?

For me forgiveness is only possible after a repentance on the part of the other, an understanding, a desire to not hurt again - or an agreement to agree to disagree with compassion .

Forgiveness might for some be a freedom to move ward, I can see that, but it has been not forgiving that freed me. With out that I can feel my bones would slip back into their old places in harness
 
Forgiveness is an incredibly personal choice. Even deciding what forgiveness looks like is very personal. Forgiveness that works for me may not work for others, and vice versa.

I absolutely do not think forgiveness is a necessary prerequisite to healing. However, for me, forgiveness necessarily includes letting go of active, burning anger towards the person who has wronged me - specifically my abusive ex. I spent too much time and energy hating her (although it was probably not something I could have avoided). While I'm still angry at what she did and think she's an evil human being who deserves to suffer, my act of forgiving her meant letting go of the hate that was wrecking me.
E.g. forgiving my mother now would see me relenting and visiting her
For me, forgiveness doesn't include acceptance of the person who wronged me. I would never, ever spend even one second with my ex ever again. But the forgiveness meant that I could release her from living rent-free in my brain.
For me forgiveness is only possible after a repentance on the part of the other
Forgiveness to me is something I do solely for myself. My ex never apologized and I would never accept an apology from her - what kind of an apology could ever be sufficient for destroying my life as I knew it forever? But I understand why she did what she did, although I reject her choice to abuse me, and that understanding has made it possible for me to forgive her.
 
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Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I think this is really tricky. As I think there is acceptance, blame, forgiveness, remorse. Some of which is ours to work through on our own with our T's perhaps, but not all of it can be outside of the relationship with that person.

For me, I'm working on acceptance rather than forgiveness. Accepting that those people did that for their reasons. Some of which is unforgivable. But the healing for me comes in the acceptance rather than the forgiveness.

I'm trying to move away from blame of my parents to acceptance of their behaviours. Which are either born out of malicious intent (which I think with my mum there was on occasion) or lack of skill/ability (which I think was the situation mostly). It's not forgiveness. I think. But I tie myself up in knots about it.

Does forgiveness mean forming a relationship again? You say that if you forgive your mum it means visiting her. But does it?

If my parents or anyone who abused me were to say sorry and show honest and sincere remorse and worked towards trying to change and repair the relationship: it would make forgiveness and acceptance a billion times easier.

But mostly we're doing this work on ourselves without the 'other' doing their part. And that is hard.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I do not know for sure but I did not get you have an issue with forgiveness of others as much as trusting yourself that. It seems to me that your trusting self area are in such you might be afraid a) to bounce back from hurts or disagreements or even abandonment (harm is different and unnecessary in relationships). b) you might be around unusual group of people who might be super (above normal) difficult or even abusive and your radar is active rightfully so.
c) I do not know the need for these people - are they your children or parents?

So at the end, I think there is a real part of you that is on protective mode and the environment is not really helping.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
Forgiveness is not a prerequisite for healing and I kind of doubt anyone really does foregive. More like "let it pass" or "forget". The closest thing I personally have is maybe an awareness that the bad happened and if I have to I can choose to accept that there will be more bad and I live with it. we have all had people we knew were inclined to do something we didn't like but we let them keep doing it because we had to for whatever reason. we had to keep it in mind that the bad was probably going to come around again but accepted that as a part of letting them stay around.
Break the word foregive down and i see it as "fore" meaning before, ahead of time, in preperation, and "give' as in bend, allow, make allowance for, tolerate. After someone does me an injustice or two, I have to prepare to make an allowance for another if I choose to stick around for it. Whenever possible I don't.
In a sentence: There are lots of stores that have treated me badly in the past, but there are more stores coming on line all the time and I can get whatever I need from stores that I choose to deal with and avoid the ones that would require me to "foregive".
 

Sues

MyPTSD Pro
Most of my life I thought forgiveness was coming to terms with the thing someone did and accepting it and then repairing the relationship with that person. I mean, that's how you end up telling someone, "I forgive you."

Recently, I've been told that forgiveness is not that. It is what somerandomguy said, letting go of the hurt so that I can be ok without ever having to repair a relationship. It's accepting what was done, and moving on from it.

Which one is right? I lean towards the first. I think the second is more like healing from hurt and pain. But that's just what feels right to me.

Could I ever forgive my abuser and reconcile and have any type of communication? Hell no. Never. My life is hell and I suffer every single day. I agree with Friday on this 100%.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
Most of my life I thought forgiveness was coming to terms with the thing someone did and accepting it and then repairing the relationship with that person. I mean, that's how you end up telling someone, "I forgive you."

Recently, I've been told that forgiveness is not that. It is what somerandomguy said, letting go of the hurt so that I can be ok without ever having to repair a relationship. It's accepting what was done, and moving on from it.

Which one is right? I lean towards the first. I think the second is more like healing from hurt and pain. But that's just what feels right to me.

Could I ever forgive my abuser and reconcile and have any type of communication? Hell no. Never. My life is hell and I suffer every single day. I agree with Friday on this 100%.
I think this is the quandary I have - forgiveness feels like the wrong word and @Movingforward10 's ‘acceptance’ seems more apt for ‘coming to terms and well, moving forward’.

Forgiveness - truly - would mean allowing the person back in if they asked, turning the other cheek, not holding the past against them. I need not to forgive because people DO come back and cycles repeat. My lack of forgiveness is the ember that fuels my firewall to protect myself. Not lack of acceptance.

Eg- my mother - I can fully accept my mother did the best she was able to do with her capacity , but I also accept it was not enough. I also accept she has tried tremendously hard in recent years and that it is my capacity that is lesser to absorb/ deflect / float above that is lacking as I now know she has mental health issues and accept them. But I also accept I do with ptsd . and that BOTH of us hurt each other. My acceptance makes me sad that I cannot forgive but understand‘it is how it is’ but my lack of forgiveness is what is protects me from actually relenting, returning calls and going to visit - something that will almost certainly lead to me being triggered, or emotional manipulation, or argument or some unpleasantness.

This compared to my father - equally problematic relationship but a different way - who lives with us - I accept it and do not forgive and this keeps my barrier up , but because he is a different personality type while I may get wound up it can be dealt with internally by me - he does not notice my upset or pain and does not pick at it. The lack of forgiveness still protects me, but it doesn’t require physical distance as much ? ( though certainly adds to my stress cup/ reduces my window of tolerance for other aspects of life etc)

I think I have felt like an unforgiving person because of the avoidant part of my disconnect from relationships but as I think about it here I begin to wonder if I am in fact very forgiving initially, giving full and complete second / third chances to relationships and when they fail my lack forgiveness is then activated? T has suggested I am over forgiving in many circumstances, that I have given second chances to people she never would and that this stems to the environment I was brought up in @grit’s second point is relevant here , as is the third- some groups I have been slow to not NOT move Away from have been family or family by marriage. It’s when I finally don’t forgive something I find strength to hold distance for my emotional well being despite the discomfort or inconvenience it inflicts on others - e.g my mother or my husband that I will not holiday with my in laws, but also friends who don’t understand I am not yet able ( my failure) to be easy going around some behaviours I find unsafe to me or others.

Acceptance others do things and that it’s outside my control, outside being any of my ‘business’ feels different to forgiveness.

I think this is also adjacent and confronting a cognitive distortion I hold around cancel culture? I don’t think I endorse cancel culture - yet I effectively do because that’s how I behave.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Forgiveness is something I can do. It will take a while and it will take a lot of resolving for the second trauma to be forgiven though.

Forgetting is a whole different thing. First trauma - easier to forgive. Where I was and what was going on it wasn't a long trip to trauma. When someone panicked things went wrong. It's done. Resolved. Over. The second trauma was something planned. Something someone did things that take blind ambition and bold uncaring action to cause the problems they did. Right now - I could do a lot of terrible things to that person and feel very little regret for doing it. It will be a while before it gets resolved in my mind for no other reason than the person knew what they were doing.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
More like "let it pass" or "forget". The closest thing I personally have is maybe an awareness that the bad happened and if I have to I can choose to accept that there will be more bad and I live with it. we have all had people we knew were inclined to do something we didn't like but we let them keep doing it because we had to for whatever reason. we had to keep it in mind that the bad was probably going to come around again but accepted that as a part of letting them stay around.
^^ I'm a lot like what @enough is saying, here. (Also like your breakdown of 'fore-give', enough, that's quite elegant)
Acceptance others do things and that it’s outside my control, outside being any of my ‘business’ feels different to forgiveness.
Yeah - personally? I don't use the concept of forgiveness as it's typically understood, at all. I don't know if it's that I'm rejecting the concept because of how I learned it in my. religious upbringing, or if I just find it to be condescending...but for me, it's too close to giving absolution, which isn't mine to give to others, I don't want them to ask for it, and I don't want to give it to myself. Too tied up in moral judgement, for me.

I think I'd describe my process as empathize, accept, move forward. Empathizing in the strictest sense - which is not so much emotional as cognitive, it's imagining myself in that person's situation with their given circumstances, and working to 'see' where their choices come from, so that I can understand (again, not emotionally) the progression of events that led to them doing whatever they did. Once I do that, I've basically walked myself into accepting what happened. Sometimes, I also have to go through that empathy process with myself - to see how I was affected, to understand the chain of events leading to their choice having the power to sustain this negative impact on me.

I'm much more skillful at applying this to others, I really often don't apply it as well to myself - to ways I've hurt myself, or caused myself (emotional, physical) harm.

After acceptance? There's moving forward. Whether or not that includes a relationship, whether I want to tell the other person how their actions affected me, whether I'm simply going to walk away....that's all part of moving forward.

Hearing someone apologize has never, ever been part of how I can feel better about what went wrong. Sometimes, hearing them admit fault and express regret can help me with the moving forward piece - but I've never relied on it, because I can't count on it being there (or being believable).
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
^^ I'm a lot like what @enough is saying, here. (Also like your breakdown of 'fore-give', enough, that's quite elegant)

Yeah - personally? I don't use the concept of forgiveness as it's typically understood, at all. I don't know if it's that I'm rejecting the concept because of how I learned it in my. religious upbringing, or if I just find it to be condescending...but for me, it's too close to giving absolution, which isn't mine to give to others, I don't want them to ask for it, and I don't want to give it to myself. Too tied up in moral judgement, for me.

I think I'd describe my process as empathize, accept, move forward. Empathizing in the strictest sense - which is not so much emotional as cognitive, it's imagining myself in that person's situation with their given circumstances, and working to 'see' where their choices come from, so that I can understand (again, not emotionally) the progression of events that led to them doing whatever they did. Once I do that, I've basically walked myself into accepting what happened. Sometimes, I also have to go through that empathy process with myself - to see how I was affected, to understand the chain of events leading to their choice having the power to sustain this negative impact on me.

I'm much more skillful at applying this to others, I really often don't apply it as well to myself - to ways I've hurt myself, or caused myself (emotional, physical) harm.

After acceptance? There's moving forward. Whether or not that includes a relationship, whether I want to tell the other person how their actions affected me, whether I'm simply going to walk away....that's all part of moving forward.

Hearing someone apologize has never, ever been part of how I can feel better about what went wrong. Sometimes, hearing them admit fault and express regret can help me with the moving forward piece - but I've never relied on it, because I can't count on it being there (or being believable).
Ah ! That’s really useful and important. I used to think I was quite bad at empathising - now I think I’ve maybe worked on it. I had an excellent yoga teacher for a long time who after one of the terrible suicidd Bombs held a session on not in anyway forgiving the actions but trying to empathise with what might drive a ( predominantly young, male) person to do this and I found it truly eye opening in my ease to both hold my Sense of self while empathising with drive of someone else.


I think the empathy I have in particular for those who have perpetrated against me ( that also sounds like a line from a prayer) is why not forgiving feels important to me - as the protection factor for me- It’s very easy for me to think of the other, and when the situation is not theoretical, like the yoga exercise- but some one I k ow and have real details of the mitigating factors - it’s difficult for me to not feel my position as a ‘fellow person’ should be to make their path in life easier. The first few years of therapy have been focused on my therapist trying to have me see my emotional needs as being of equal weight to others do that I do not put the wounded perpetrator first, but consider my needs as equal, but my priority. I think not forgiving helps me do that .

I think accepting and moving forward is language I feel I can live with and move towards but forgiveness less so.

I think I’m going to prepare something written for T based on this .


Thank you all so much for your help and perspectives with this.
 
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