Is this Your Year to Forgive & Forget?

I have the honor of working with many people who have been abused physically, emotionally and or sexually.  Our culture teaches us to “forgive and forget” and in fact those who don’t are often shamed for not taking the high road.  Society says to forgive and forget, let bygones be bygones, and turn the other cheek.  For people who have been abused or traumatized, forgiving isn’t necessarily the answer.  The truth is you can choose to accept what has happened but you don’t have to forgive whoever has harmed you unless you so choose to.  Forgiving is a very personal choice not to be influenced by what you think you “should” do.  There is no shame in accepting what has happened without forgiving the perpetrator.  The power comes when you can make your reaction to what happened be a choice.  That’s the difference between being a victim and being a survivor.

1 thought on “Is this Your Year to Forgive & Forget?”

  1. Hi,
    I came across your blog on the dashboard. Very nice post! Thanks for writing it. I’ve never considered the difference between being a victim and a survivor. I don’t have time to read more of your articles now, but will surely return to see what you have to say about abuse, specifically mental abuse.
    I’m working on forgiving myself, which is really hard. I think this is the most important forgiveness in the aftermath of abuse because so often we blame ourselves.
    Forgiveness seems to me to be somewhat elusive. I mean it is an idea right? Then, I guess, it becomes an experience. I think now of a certain kind of abuse I endured and when I think of forgiving the person who was cruel, well, as I said, it is elusive.
    I guess I’m still in the stage of trying to live my days. To feel tricked, purposefully mentally and emotionally manipulated, fooled… these are difficult thoughts and emotions.
    I wish I felt all flowery and forgiving and graceful. Mostly I feel bewildered, confused and hurt when I recall the — abuse. So I try to recall something new or anything better.
    I would like to say thank you for acknowledging how people who have been abused are shamed for not, “taking the high road.” Having the people in my life, the ones whom I dearly love and I know they love me, tell me to put it behind me, now, and that means never mention it again — go on as if nothing ever happened, I think it may be as hard as what I went through. I have endured alone until finally I started focusing on it in therapy and talking about it with people who can and do authentically validate my experience.
    Thank you.


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