For those who are suffering the aftermath of trauma and abuse, for those who are suffering with PTSD from that trauma and abuse, along side me, I would like to state the following…
Your healing, your ability to heal, your successful healing journey, does not depend upon your willingness or ability to forgive your abuser.
NOT. FOR. ONE. SINGLE. SECOND.
Anyone who tells you otherwise, is abusing you as well. Anyone who tells you otherwise, is projecting their unresolved woundedness onto you in an attempt to avoid their own pain seen reflected in your story. Anyone who judges and shames you, who “should’s or shouldn’ts” you, or demands artificial forgiveness by trying to shut down your truth, is only trying to shut down their own. Anyone who focuses on forgiveness while you are still hurting is both denying and trivializing your suffering, thus abusing as well, by not allowing you to be seen in your woundedness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is the unhealed disguising themselves as healed…there is nothing scarier than that on this planet.
Anyone who forces the responsibility of forgiveness on you, when your abuser has not taken accountability for their wrongful actions is sweeping the natural process of your healing under a rug of forgiveness, before the healing has actually taken place.
Anyone who tells you forgiving your abuser is a prerequisite to healing is wrong…dead wrong.
Whether you forgive and forget, forgive and not forget, not forgive or not forget, the choice is yours and yours alone. Not forgiving your abuser does not make you less healed, less spiritual or less resolved, than forgiving does. It just doesn’t.
It simply means you are still working through your healing process and recognize it is neither your responsibility nor absolutely necessary for you to forgive your abuser in order to heal what needs to be healed within you. It simply means you are choosing to continue down your healing path, standing in your own truth, rather than feigning forgiveness to make another feel less uncomfortable.
It simply means you understand that attempting to heal yourself for no other reason than to “say” you have forgiven your abuser, would be going against who you actually are, your inner instinct, your inner natural flow, and not be real healing at all.
It simply means you will no longer allow anyone to make you feel like you need to change something about yourself they feel is wrong with you, to please them. That you are no longer willing to erase any part of your identity to be more like or likable by them. That by someone asking you to forgive before you are ready or feel it is necessary, you could be getting rid of your ability to discern good from bad, safe from unsafe.
It simply means the forgiveness of your abuser is not the top priority in your healing process, other things are…allowing space for healing, time for reflection of our trauma, attention to our inner lives, and the perceptive to understand what may lie on the other side of forgiveness.
Without time for reflection of our trauma, time for attention to our inner lives, we are not able to step back and remember ourselves, away from the overwhelm of the abuse inflicted upon us. Remember our pre- trauma identities, should we be fortunate enough to have one. Remember who we inherently are.
Without trying to understand what lies on the other side of forgiveness, we are not able to realize the only person we have ever needed to forgive was ourselves.
I spent years believing, and being told, I would never fully heal until I forgave my abusers. That my PTSD would never “go away” until I forgave them fully. That I needed to “let it go” or my personal favorite…”Don’t you think your abuser has been through enough? It has been long enough, can’t you just move on?”
I spent years seeking validation from others, from some sort of authority figure, to validate my abuse. Years trying to find another to listen to my story, my truth, my side and acknowledge the pain I had endured. See the suffering and offer relief.
I spent years placing myself in re-traumatizing situations in an effort to be authentically seen and heard by another, only to be passed by, never understanding why no one seemed to understand.
I spent years honoring the hurt, sadness and betrayal, yet never forgiving myself because I had made the unconscious decision that somehow, the abuse had been all my fault. A decision made under the duress of trauma without fully understanding the falsity of that decision.
It wasn’t until I had organically sifted through all this understanding and got in touch with the person I was before and when the trauma and abuse occurred, accepting her simply for who she was at the time, that I realized I was the only person I needed to be listen to by and validated by. I was the only one who needed to be seen and heard by myself, not another. I was the only one I needed to forgive.
My actuality, the protecting and honoring of my own journey, the unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness of myself, was greater than anyone else’s potentiality of hearing, seeing, believing, validating or acceptance of my true self.
I finally realized I had spent years looking outside myself for something I would only ever be able to find inside myself. Years committing the most cruel act of violence against myself…withholding forgiveness to myself for believing my abuser still had power in my life, for believing I needed the validation of another to heal, for believing I needed to forgive another.
The other side of forgiveness…the realization of the only person I ever needed to forgive was myself.
And then I knew. I didn’t need to forgive my abuser, his fate is in his own hands. His battle is within himself, not with me.
I only needed to forgive myself.
Forgive myself for believing I had done something to deserve the trauma and abuse.
Forgive myself for believing I needed the approval of anybody, other than myself to heard, seen, believed, validated and accepted for my truth.
Forgive myself for believing I needed the world to read my story in order for it to be “real”.
Forgive myself for believing the way to protect myself was to stay in this story, retelling it over and over.
Forgive myself for believing I could sift my way through my healing journey using my thoughts and words with this column. Expressing my unresolved emotions, unexpressed truths, the chaos of my unclear, unsettled heart in effort to heal utilizing this platform.
Forgive myself for believing other’s have the right to judge my life, simply because I chose to share it with the idea another may not feel, after hearing my truths, as isolated as I once felt.
Forgive myself for not knowing it is okay to keep myself to myself.
Forgive myself for staying in a place, not meant for me, too long.
What lies the other side of forgiveness?
The realization the only person you ever need to forgive, is yourself.
With that said, this will be my last submission to The Good Men Project and 60 Seconds of Sunshine.
Thank you for the opportunity.
Photo Credit: Getty Images