I think all of us who have been abused have heard this invalidating, hurtful phrase at some point. You say something about your experiences, & the listener tells you to “just let it go.” They may even say “I mean this in love…” first, as if that will soften the blow of their hurtful words.
“Just let it go” can be among the most painful words a victim can hear, & also among the most common ones. It’s also among the most stupid thing to say.
For one thing, if the person saying them says they’re saying these words out of love for you, that is a lie. The simple fact is that what you have said about your experiences makes the person uncomfortable. I can say this with confidence, because I believe what the Bible says about love:
1 Corinthians 13 1″Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (KJV)
Nowhere in there does it say love means invalidate others or hurt them. Love is kind, rejoices in truth & bears all things- sounds to me like real love means you support those in pain instead, even if the topic makes you uncomfortable.
“Just let it go” also doesn’t make sense because who we are is a result of what we have experienced in life, good & bad. You shouldn’t “just let go” of your past as if it didn’t happen because of that. You can learn a lot about yourself by not only what you have been through, but also by how you responded to things that have happened to you.
When you have been through traumatic experiences, there is another problem with “just letting it go”: you can’t. Even if you want to, you can’t. PTSD & C-PTSD mean like it or not, you’re going to live with depression, anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia & more because of the trauma you’ve been through. I’ve heard it said that PTSD & C-PTSD don’t mean you aren’t letting go of the past, but they’re the past not letting go of you. It’s VERY true!
There are some things that you can & should “just let go” however…
- Believing you are 100% responsible for making relationships work.
- Believing something is wrong with you or you’re a bad person, because others have mistreated you.
- Believing that if you would just do *fill in the blank*, the other person would treat you better.
- Believing you have to “forgive & forget” or else you’re a bad person.
- Believing you have to be in a relationship with your abuser. You do NOT have to tolerate abuse from anyone.
- Hope that the other person will one day apologize to you for everything they’ve done.