No I do not always forgive and I don’t have too…
You don’t always have to forgive this is a common misnomer in fact forgiveness is not always even appropriate, not helpful, downright offensive or harmful and forgiving may be the worst thing you can do.
I was extremely abused as a child and I see more importance for people who have been so deeply abused like me or worse, to do grieving more than forgiveness. the loss of our innocence, loss of our trust, loss of our peace of mind and often a loss of our hope that extreme abuse can bring.
The stages of grieving are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. The 5 stages of grieving are: Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience that almost nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.
Redefining and recreating a purposeful, meaningful life poses enormous physical, social, and psychological challenges to our moving through and past our grieving to accept the reality of the loss; to work through to the pain of grief; to adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing; and to emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with life.
When loss pertains to more intangible sources of grief such as prolonged abuse and trauma, one size does not fit all. Adult survivors of child abuse, beset by complex post-traumatic stress disorder often grapple with persistent complicated bereavement disorder. They are plagued by persistent yearnings for the love and normalcy they never had. They are weighed down by innumerable intangible losses such as safety, dignity, belonging, and a cohesive sense of self.
For adult survivors of chronic child abuse the notion of ‘family as sacrosanct’ is a principle which fosters confusion, alienation, shame, and outrage. Anecdotal forgiveness seems to be the standard advice handed out to survivors of abuse. Survivors are advised to offer absolution to the abusive parent irrespective of whether the abuser has attempted any sort of restitution. Recipient of the 1996 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Dr. Judith Herman, refers to the aforementioned construct as the forgiveness fantasy.
Dr. Herman states, “Forgiveness is a relational process. “‘I forgive you’ is the response to a heartfelt apology and request for forgiveness. If the apology is never made, the process of forgiveness cannot take place. And “genuine contrition in a perpetrator is a rare miracle.” Under these circumstances the abuse survivor must establish a personal pathway for grief resolution, while struggling with collective judgments, which fail to appreciate the enormous complexity and singularity of the survivor’s loss.