Truths About Forgiveness

Many people talk about forgiveness as if it means you resume a relationship as if nothing happened.  You also no longer feel any anger or hurt.  It’s as if a magic wand has wiped away all evidence that the painful event happened!  And, if this isn’t the case in your situation, clearly something is very wrong with you.

Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth!  Believing these lies has done a lot of emotional damage to victims of narcissistic abuse.  I want to share the truth about forgiveness in this post.

Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily equal reconciliation.  Some relationships have run their course & need to end for various reasons.  One example is when one person in the relationship is abusive & shows no interest in changing their ways.  Staying in a relationship with someone who abuses you simply makes no sense!  Even if the abuser is a spouse or family member, it’s best to leave the abuser behind.

Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that a relationship needs to continue exactly as it was.  When someone does something very bad to someone else, that bad behavior needs to stop.  Continuing the abusive behavior over & over is terrible for the victim & also the abuser.  The abuser learns that their behavior is perfectly acceptable.  Clearly this is NOT good for either party!

Forgiving someone is much like forgiving a debt.  If you lend someone money & they can’t pay you back, you can “forgive” their debt.  In other words, you don’t expect them to repay you & you don’t mention that they owe you.  That debt is a done deal.  When someone wrongs you, you can do something similar by not expecting them to try to make it up to you for what they have done.  Doing this really lifts a great deal of weight & stress from you!

Forgiveness also doesn’t necessarily mean that you never feel anger or hurt about the incident again.  If you forgive someone as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, that does open the door to your anger & hurt diminishing or even disappearing in time.  Some abusive actions are so egregious though, that there may always be a degree of hurt or anger attached to the memory.  That doesn’t mean that you haven’t forgiven the person who hurt you.  It means that the action was really terrible.  Remember me sharing the story of when my mother threw me into a wall when I was 19?  I honestly have forgiven her for that.  Remembering the incident, however, still makes me cringe.  Sometimes it even makes my back hurt in the location she injured it.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t forgiven her, am holding onto bitterness or am not a good Christian.  It means that was a really bad action!

When it comes to the business of forgiving, I do my best immediately to decided to forgive.  Most likely there is nothing the person can do anyway to completely make it up to me for what they have done, so I mentally release them from that “debt” of sorts.

I also have found praying to be VERY helpful.  I ask God to help me forgive naturally, but also tell Him how I feel.  I say it was wrong of them to do or say whatever they did.  I cry or rant to get my feelings out & that helps so much.  He is never surprised or offended either.  He lets me say whatever I need to.

Journaling is also helpful.  I’ve learned that writing things down helps bring clarity to situations that speaking about them doesn’t.  There is something so helpful about seeing things in writing!

If you don’t journal, you still can get the benefits of writing.  Write letters you never send to the person who has hurt or abused you.  Let it all out in them, too.  Once you’re done, you can save the letter somewhere well hidden or you can dispose of it.  I used to burn mine.  It was like the anger & hurt went up in flames with the paper.  Strange, I know, but still very helpful.

You don’t have to live up to the impossibly high standards some folks have of forgiveness.  It’s unrealistic & unhealthy!  Remember these truths about forgiveness.. I believe they will help you!

21 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

21 responses to “Truths About Forgiveness

  1. Thank you for this one! I struggle with this so much concerning my mother. I think I’ve forgiven her but when memories flood me, I tend to get angry. Makes me think I haven’t forgiven her. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Truths About Forgiveness | Talmidimblogging

  3. Donna Meyer

    Cynthia, you have once again hit the nail on the head!
    I basically do all the above (including tossing it into the flames) except my journal is my calendar. Many years ago my Dad taught me how valuable a timeline is when you deal with work, coworkers, school, children and life in general. You not only do this to keep track of life but the fact is their are people who will lie, twist the truth and even deny that an event actually happened so they can throw you under the bus for their own selfish reasons.
    For me the action of writing everything down is the ultimate action in cya and has served me well over the years in dealing with so many different situations and keeping my sanity in check
    I also believe being raised with the mantra of you hate nothing & are grateful for everything makes it easy for me to forgive. The hurtful part for me is dealing with the broken trust issue. Unfortunately the minute you lie to me I can never trust you the same again. I have tried numerous times and have let those in that had hurt me in the past only to subject myself once again to their abuse. And as cliche as it may be I hear in my head
    “Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me”
    Once again moving on…

    Thank you Cynthia ❤
    for your helpful insight & and advice on this subject.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so very much!!

      The calendar aspect is very wise indeed. I don’t do that per se because I’ve always had some weird knack for remembering dates. But anyway it is helpful to remember what happened & when, especially when dealing with those who do their best to twist everything.

      Trust issues are the worst, aren’t they? It’s so easy to lose trust in someone & so hard to gain it back, even when they try. When they don’t? It’s a double slam of hurt- that they broke your trust & don’t care enough to try to earn it back.

      You’re welcome! Thank you so much for your kind words! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donna Meyer

        I think denial is worst. This quote says it all …

        “Denial does not solve the problem. Denial does not make the problem go away. Denial does not give us peace of mind, which is what we are really seeking when we engage in it. Denial is a liar. It compounds the problem, because it keeps us from seeing a solution, and taking action to resolve it.”
        – BILL KORTENBACH

        You are very welcome Cynthia!
        Your writing keeps us thinking not only about others
        thoughts & actions but more importantly our own thoughts & actions. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    • I also find it impossible to trust once that trust has been broken. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it’s extremely painful when someone you love and trusted hurts you.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. ibikenyc

    When I was much younger, someone older and wiser suggested forgiveness to me, and I rolled my eyes hard at them. My whole orientation was, “Why should the person who hurt me get away with that? Why should they get to just walk away like what they did was cool?”

    Only in the past few years have I come to understand that forgiveness is really all about self-protection and letting go. It’s so the abuser’s / wrongdoer’s actions don’t become your raison d’etre.

    I’ve also found that there’s a lot of releasing shame: Shame for being “stupid” enough to fall for their crap in the first place; often shame for continuing to believe them and going back for more over and over; the shame pressed on you by others: “She didn’t MEAN it;” “That’s just the way she is;” “She’s your mother (or whatever)!” and the like.

    The most helpful thing I’ve come to realize about forgiveness is that it DOESN’T mean that that slate is wiped clean. Rather, it’s a way to learn and grow. Growth is often painful, but it’s always worthwhile.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Lifelessonswithlynny

    About her timely word in due season. Thank you Cynthia.

    Like

  6. Lifelessonswithlynny

    Another timely word in due season. Thank you Cynthia.

    Like

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