From my experience with my recovery and communicating with others about their recovery, it’s clear that we all have very different interpretations of what it means to forgive. Depending on many factors such as our religious beliefs, spirituality, and life experiences, we put various degrees of importance on forgiving our tormentor(s) and even define “forgiveness” to suit our plan. The beauty of this community is that we respect each other’s interpretations and give each other room to grow and recover unrestricted and at a pace and with the tools that work best.
Unfortunately, it’s the folks who have not experienced the extreme effects of emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial abuse who seem to have the most criticism of how we choose to heal and move forward. I think many on the outside of sociopath/narcissist abuse fool themselves and judge many survivors with regards to forgiveness. These seemingly, well-meaning folks insist that we must forgive, according to the traditional “rules” of forgiveness, otherwise, we won’t be able to free ourselves from all that hate inside of us.
I think this is rather presumptuous and unfair and a burden to recovery as it relates to freeing ourselves from self-blame and self-shame. The self-righteous are forcing me to believe that my inability to forgive is a hindrance and that because I refuse to forgive, I most assuredly am carrying around a bunch of hate that’s blocking me and holding me back?
(Thanks for informing me that I carry around something that I didn’t know I was carrying. What else do you see in my soul that I don’t? Please, I’d really like to know, oh great and powerful one.)
Just because many of us, including myself, do not forgive our sociopath/narcissist, doesn’t mean we hold hate in our heart. Neither forgiveness nor hate depend on the other. The presence of one does not mean the presence or absence of the other. There is no direct equation that links the two. It’s a myth.
(Probably one of those myths a sociopath created so we WOULD feel obligated to forgive him!)
Just because I won’t forgive doesn’t mean I hate. And it shouldn’t be assumed that the people who choose to forgive do not hold hate and contempt within their hearts.
I forgive myself and all of the pain I caused my family and loved ones. I still hate what I did, and I still hate the person I was. I’m allowed to feel that hate. That hate doesn’t keep me stuck despite what all those self-righteous folks think who preach that forgiveness is the only path to freedom.
I do not forgive the sociopath, the person who ignored my direct questions regarding his behavior, lies, and abuses against myself and my son. I hated the sociopath for being so spineless and for hiring a lawyer in an attempt (a failed attempt) to force me to end my questions…I absolutely hated the coward. I was allowed to hate him. I was allowed to wish for him to suffer like I suffered. I wished a lot of things upon him that came from a place of extreme hate.
Today, however, after much internal work and meditation, I’ve accepted that the sociopath is what he is. I no longer hate him, and I’ve moved beyond feeling sorry for him, too. But I refuse to forgive the creep, the abuser, the despicable human I once trusted with myself and my son. After all, he has never claimed accountability for his behavior nor acknowledged any of my accusations. According to his delusions, he did nothing wrong. According to him, what I think and feel does not matter.
What I do feel for him is indifference. Other than using what I know of him to apply to sociopath awareness, I am indifferent to the sociopath today. If he succeeds in hurting others, oh well, it’s out of my control; but I will never stop hoping for peace for his victims. If he gets hit by a bus tomorrow, oh well, one less asshole the world has to worry about dodging.
I don’t hate him, because I truly do not care about him.
Hate and love require energy and a bond, as does forgiveness. I don’t feel the bond, so my need to forgive doesn’t even enter my consciousness (until someone tries preaching to me about how I should forgive).
Maybe it is important to clearly define what the idea of forgiveness means to you. Clearly defining it may prevent you from getting wrapped up in feeling guilty the next time someone starts preaching to you about “moving on” and “getting over” the abuse through forgiveness.
Forgiveness to me means indifference. So according to my definition, I forgive the sociopath; I am indifferent to him.
(Hey, sociopaths redefine history everyday. Why can’t we redefine what “forgiveness” means to our recovery?)
How do you define your idea of forgiveness?