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!