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There is this really dangerous idea which I have been seeing in regards to healing, and to be honest I have been seeing it since time immemorial. Almost everyone who cares about me has said it at some point to me and in general, it makes me extremely uncomfortable. The idea is this: “You must forgive your those who hurt you in order to heal”. This is all over social media and it gives off the idea that so you can begin your healing journey, you must forgive the person who abused you and that is the only way you will start your healing journey.
This is a lie.
In a previous article this month, I discussed how healing is a nuanced thing and no two people heal alike. Today I want to discuss how forced forgiveness, a concept fed to us by the media, by society, is suggested as the only “correct” way to heal or else you will remain broken forever.
Let me clear on this from one survivor to another, from one victim to another: You do not have to forgive anyone except yourself to start your healing journey. The person who hurt you, who abused you does not deserve your forgiveness, you deserve your own forgiveness. The first step to loving yourself is recognising your own flaws and learning to forgive yourself for them and live with them.
The second step to loving yourself is making a concious decision about your healing process and what you want it to be. If this means you do not want to forgive your abuser, then do not forgive them. This notion of forced forgiveness is extremely harmful to a survivor’s health.
I have said this before and I will say it again. People heal in a completely unique way, the way they process their days in a completely unique way. We cannot force them to heal the way we want them to.
Some people heal better through staying angry at their attackers and gaining justice. Some people heal better through forgiving their own selves. Some people heal through getting revenge on their attackers in some way, and although we might not agree with it, we do not get a right to say how someone ELSE’s healing journey takes place and how they choose to go about it.
So remember the next time you see the sugary sweet sign “You can only heal through forgiving the people who hurt you.” that this is a very short sighted approach to a very broad journey that is different to everyone.
Your recovery and healing journey is entirely YOUR call. You do not owe anyone your forgiveness in order to heal other than yourself.