Often people who are very forgiveness centered seem to think that to forgive someone means that whatever they did to you no longer triggers any negative feelings. You will be completely immune to any upset on that topic. For example, if your narcissistic mother constantly told you that you were fat, & someone else calls you fat, if you have truly forgiven your mother, some people think that means that this other person’s words won’t bother you in the slightest.
I really don’t believe that is true. You can forgive someone yet still be angered by certain behaviors.
Forgiving someone doesn’t always mean you have forgiven & forgotten what they did, & everything is now unicorns & rainbows. Forgiveness can mean that you release any expectations on them of apologizing & trying to make it up to you for wronging you. While doing this is a good thing, it doesn’t automatically release the anger or hurt you feel that their actions caused.
Even if you have managed to release all anger & hurt you feel at the person who has hurt or even abused you, their actions still can be very upsetting. Let’s say for example you were robbed at knifepoint. You have recovered from any physical injuries & have forgiven the robber. Maybe you even learned he was out of work at the time & trying to get money to feed his starving children, so you felt some compassion for him with his plight. Do you really think that all of this would make you ok with anyone robbing anyone at knifepoint? No! It definitely wouldn’t, because you know this behavior is wrong, no matter what the story behind it is. You also know how it feels to be in that position, the terror & anger it stirs up in you, & wouldn’t wish that on anyone. If you were in this situation & heard of someone else being through what you have, you naturally would be upset, no matter how much or little anger you feel towards the person who hurt you.
Honestly, I think it is not only normal to be upset by reminders but healthy.
Not being bothered by reminders of your trauma would mean you are desensitized to it. How is being desensitized to trauma good? It doesn’t help you, & may in fact hurt you. If you’re numb to the trauma you experienced, that probably means that you have ignored it for a very long time rather than process it. That is not even close to mentally healthy!
Being desensitized to trauma doesn’t help others who have experienced trauma either. If you think what they say was a traumatic experience wasn’t a big deal, & you tell them that, it will instill shame in them. They will become ashamed of being so affected by something so “trivial”. They will wonder what is wrong with them, why they were so traumatized by something that other people wouldn’t be bothered by. They could begin to shut down & ignore their pain rather than deal with it. Doing this could lead to a plethora of problems such as physical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or digestive disorders. It also could make them turn to substance abuse, shopping addiction or promiscuity rather than face the fact that they are hurting.
Dear Reader, please know that no matter how much you have forgiven your abuser, things that they have done will continue to upset & even anger you, & that is totally normal! In fact, let the emotions motivate you! Become an advocate against the type of abuse or trauma you experienced. Talk about it, so people know that these things are wrong. If you feel bold, write a blog or a book. See what you can to do get laws changed so other abusers like yours will go to jail. Good truly can come from those feelings, & remember, they aren’t proof that you are unforgiving or bitter. Far from it. They prove you’re a person with a wise & compassionate heart.