Religion preaches forgiveness
Let’s make this clear from the start. I am not religious. I was brought up as a Methodist but gradually turned my back on formal religion as I grew older. There are many reasons for this but far too many to include in this blog. Not being religious does not make me a bad person. Far from it. I’m more at peace than most of the religious people I know.
Today I attended a funeral. I always enter a funeral with an open mind. When it comes to religion I have a level of respect for people who can have a belief in something that has questionable ‘facts’. I’m not having a ‘pop’ at religion. As I see it, it offers relief and support to those of whom require it. That must, therefore, be a good thing. Anyway, one vein I have found with most religions is its attempt to ‘forgive’. This is a massive request to ask of most people. Especially people who have been hurt or are hurting right now.
From my own perspective, I have experienced hatred (I’ve possibly been hated too). But I have found my hate turn to resentment then pity, and finally apathy. But why is forgiveness not the answer to all the hurt and pain we feel? I know (deep, deep down) that is probably the best thing to do. But I don’t think ‘forgiveness is the ‘be all – end all’ to the pain of abuse.
Does forgiveness deny the pain you have been subjected to?
I am trying so hard to forgive my ex for the things she has said and done. I refuse to excuse the reasons for her behaviours as she is responsible, as an adult, for those actions. And ultimately the consequences, to both herself and I.
I just feel at the moment, a sense of pity. Pity because she has no idea of what she has done, the problems that this has caused and the damage it has done. Furthermore, I feel pity for her as she will one day wonder why she is alone. She cannot depend on her looks for ever. They fade. But real beauty is based on character and personality. And hers, ladies and gentlemen is ugly. I feel pity for all of those things. Yet I still find it hard to forgive.
What are the benefits of forgiving someone?
I have seen it said in many self-help books that forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
- Higher self-esteem
Yet, she was the cause of all these problems. I have been proud of my physical health in general. I have never attended hospital although I do have a history of depression. I’ve never even had a filling. But the abuse I suffered left me with a greater level of anxiety, a greater level of depression and PTSD. And little, if any self-esteem.
Yet I still feel pity for her, because I know I will get better. Her life is based on denial and bitterness. Her problems cannot be treated with medication alone. So I don’t need to forgive. I just have pity for her.
Forgiveness isn’t always a good idea.
I have literally found tonnes of literature stating that forgiveness can improve your mental and physical health. It also focuses on the idea of easing anxiety and depression. Letting go of a grudge, it seems, may be up there with exercising and getting enough sleep as one of the best things you can do for yourself. But I believe that refusing to forgive is a healthy frame of mind that protects you against further damage. It further stops you from being someone else’s ‘door mat’. What’s wrong with that? From my point of view, nothing. I’m more than happy to promote self protection.
I think it is wrong and a fallacy to suggest to anyone that they cannot move on without forgiveness. To even suggest that this is the only way out of unhappiness is a cruel suggestion, especially when no one else has walked in your shoes. Let’s make it clear, it’s not anybody’s place to tell you when to forgive or not. It is your decision when, and only when, the time is right. Whether that is today, next year or never.
Forgiveness isn’t the only way to move on.
I have found that wanting to move away from the damage and hurt (isn’t that what we are trying to do?), does not require you to say “I forgive you”. You can get the same relief and escape from your pains by taking a new approach to problems.
Previously, my approach usually meant rolling over and accepting her poisons. However, my new approach involves; counselling, medication, keeping a journal and so on. I’ve not forgiven, yet I’m feeling pretty good. I think this is mainly down to the fact that it wasn’t me, it was all her. What is there to forgive when she would never change anyway. Forgiveness would be an utter waste of time. I have no anger, just pity for a lost soul. A soul who think’s its ok to abuse in all of it ugly forms.
Forgiveness gives licence to the abuser to remain blind
There is enough pressure already to try and rebuild our lives without the added pressure of not forgiving. Especially to those who abused. And by the people who had no idea.
Undoubtably, I will probably get a long line of people criticising what I have said. That is perfectly fine. We are all entitled to our opinions and this is mine (I make no apology for it). But from my point of view if I forgave she would not see the damage she had done. because I had seemed to forgive so easily. I want her to know she has done wrong. Deep down I want her to stop for her own well-being. That does not require forgiveness. It requires pity.
In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed is king
But, I firmly believe that you should not be carrying the burden of not forgiving. No one can point the finger at you and condemn you for feeling pain and distress caused by others. After all, would our abusers condemn us for standing up for ourselves. Mine didn’t condemn, she just dug herself in even deeper and I walked away. Therefore, I have no reason to forgive someone who continues to damage everything around her and will continue to do so. I just pity her.