F*ck forgiveness: When forgiving your abuser is NOT what helps you heal
Seriously, f*ck forgiveness. Patience and compassion for your abuser don’t always help you overcome the trauma.
How can someone who promotes the idea of forgiving your abuser in order to heal be in their right mind? What we need are boundaries. And maybe a dash of badassery. Because healing is almost never pretty, and we need that badass attitude to get through it.
Trying to forgive someone who had abused you mentally or physically is emotionally exhausting. Sometimes, even though you are willing to let them go, your heavy heart doesn’t agree with you. It has been broken so many times, that it has had enough of your tolerance and benevolence. Maybe you should set forgiveness aside for a change. Because, despite what everyone else will tell you, it doesn’t always help you heal. Sometimes it actually slows down your process.
What if your toxic partner, your insensitive parents, or your ignorant boss don’t deserve your forgiveness?
Instead of guiding you towards your journey to healing from trauma, forced forgiveness might actually destroy the progress you have made so far. Asking a victim of abuse to forgive the one who hurt them is like asking them to re-live all the heart-trenching experiences they associate with that person. It brings them back to the times when they were helpless, vulnerable, and alone in their pain. The “forgive and forget” mentality doesn’t work when your soul has been exploited.
While forgiveness can be beautiful and cathartic, it should never be forced. Instead, it should happen organically. To forgive, you should feel certain that by doing so, you will let the pain go and will be able to move on without holding a grudge. You should be confident that from then on, you will be only focused on your future, and not living in the past. Your mind, soul, and body should be in full harmony.
As author Justice Bartlett writes, “the same goes for forcing compassion.” She adds: “Inappropriately directed, it may do more harm than good.”
Why saying “f*ck forgiveness” can be more emotionally beneficial than forgiving.
Adopting the “f*ck forgiveness” mindset, regardless of how challenging it may seem, can actually boost your healing process. Initially, it may provoke feelings of anger, rage, and even grief, but eventually, it will make sense.
Indeed, this opposes all the quotes and mentors saying that by simply focusing on the positive, you can entirely transform your life. Practice gratitude and count your blessings. Just let go. Well, news flash: Dealing with severe trauma can be far too complicated to solve with nothing but positive thinking.
Healing doesn’t happen when you do what society says is right. Healing happens when you allow yourself to feel. It happens when you accept yourself just as you are and you are ready to show the world the real you. The flawed, imperfect, raw version of you. When you forget about the mask you put to cover your true colors because you believe you might be too much for others, and you finally feel good in your own skin – that’s when you are truly healed.
Forgiveness is cleansing, but only when it happens naturally.
And it happens naturally only when you feel strong enough to look your abuser in the eyes and be at peace with yourself. Thankfully, despite what many believe, you can heal without forgiving the one who hurt you. In fact, not forgiving them might be the key to overcoming the pain. Bartlett explains:
“Feeling forgiveness for abusers before we have fully felt and processed our own anguish, anger, and grief will not help them. It may, however, keep the wounded part of our self separate where it can continue to act out the unresolved pain that has not been acknowledged. This can become self-destructive.”
However, self-forgiveness is necessary. You should find the power to forgive yourself for allowing someone else to use your vulnerability. You should feel compassion for yourself for all the pain and distress you have been going through. Slowly, but steadily, you will stop giving a damn about the person who caused your trauma. And, honestly, that can be much better than forgiving them.
Moving on with your life as a whole, strong, healed person, without giving a f*ck about your abuser, is the real cathartic experience you need.