Forgiveness is Bullshit

Wherever you find an intolerance for and avoidance of “negative emotion,” you are almost guaranteed to also find a “doctrine” of forgiveness. I cringe every time I hear forgiveness come up. For a while, my cringing was accompanied by guilt because I felt horrible that I would see such a “positive” action/attitude as repulsive. I could easily understand why I might feel repelled by the fundamentalist definition of forgiveness, but I didn’t understand why I was also disgusted by the more “liberal” definitions of forgiveness.

As I’ve taken the journey to reclaim my right to have my emotions, even the shadow ones, I’ve gained a bit of a better understanding of my hatred of the very idea of forgiveness.

Basically I’m here to say it’s all bullshit.

Yes, I know I’ve probably made many of you gasp and even branded myself in some minds as a “bitter person.”

That’s okay. If you don’t feel like reading on about how the idea and pressure to “forgive” can actually be harmful, you are free to stop reading here. But I guarantee there are going to be a good number of readers who sigh with relief at what I just said because, deep down, they feel that way too.

Why do I think forgiveness is bullshit? Before I answer that question, I want you to close your eyes and think about your best denotative definition for the word. Can you?

Well, let’s go over some of the popular quotes and quips about forgiveness. Then at the end, we’ll actually look at the dictionary definition and discuss that (now please don’t ruin things and look it up in the dictionary just yet).

  • “Forgive and forget”: I actually got this one a lot in fundamentalism. It’s a very convenient phrase for teaching children to suppress memories and accept repeated abuse. In fact, when I, as a teen, confided to a counselor at The Wilds Christian Camp that I couldn’t “forget” about my abuse and I was having a hard time “forgiving” the abuser as a result, I was told that as long as I never talked about it to anyone ever again and pushed the thoughts about the abuse out of my head whenever they intruded, I would be able to forgive, even if I didn’t officially forget. It should be pretty easy to see why equating forgiveness with amnesia of an event is bullshit. Stupidity is not a virtue.
  • “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” This little gem from C. S. Lewis is representative of another commonly repeated idea in fundamentalism. It doesn’t really define forgiveness, merely mandates it as a divine expectation, which can be just as bad as the definitions. I would actually classify this as spiritual/emotional abuse even without having a definition like the one above simply because of the way that such a divine mandate is wielded against the wounded to undercut their healing. It’s probably also the only idea off the top of my head that I would say Jesus should be ashamed of propogating with his “seventy times seven” statement in Matthew 18:22. . . unless of course, the translation effect fails to account for the possibility that at that time and in that period “forgiveness” wasn’t what we think of it as today.
  • “True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience.’” (Oprah) Bullshit should be so easy to find in this one. I can think of several experiences that I would NEVER thank someone for, my sexual abuse being the most prominent that comes to mind. In fact, if forgiveness is really finding the ability to be thankful for what someone else did to you that hurt you, I’d have to say that I’ve never forgiven anyone who wronged me, nor do I want to.
  • “Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim–letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.” (C. R. Strahan) This is one that on the surface seems nicer. And there are a lot of variations on the idea of freeing or healing oneself through forgiveness. But my next question is, if forgiveness is not absolving someone, what is it? These types of phrases never give an alternative. And I’m sorry to break it to anyone who likes this definition, but it’s not in the real definition. “Absolving,” on the other hand, is. So the attempt to whitewash forgiveness into something entirely personal and not connected to the offending person is really just all BULLSHIT.
  • “Forgiveness is the discovery that what you thought happened, didn’t.” (Byron Katie) Bull-fucking-shit! I actually expected better from Byron Katie. I’ve heard a lot of good things about her and was horribly disappointed to find her propagating such a stupid definition of forgiveness. It’s just another form of the amnesia prescription of forgiveness, but with an even more sinister undertone. Instead of just forgetting it happened . . . it’s actually suggesting that it didn’t happen. Yes, let’s tell a grieving parent that forgiving a drunk driver who killed their child would mean discovering that the driver didn’t actually kill their child. That doesn’t sound insensitive at all! For that matter, I’m sure there are a few spouses who might also protest at the idea that forgiveness means discovering that infidelity didn’t actually take place. In case it isn’t obvious, what Katie is describing is called a misunderstanding, and that doesn’t require forgiveness, merely clarification.

But what about the real definition? Okay, here you go. According to, forgiveness is:

  1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
  2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
  3. to grant pardon to (a person).
  4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one’s enemies.
  5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.

The definition and connotation of forgiveness is all about the other person—the person who wronged you—and setting them free, absolving them, letting them off the hook, ceasing to feel anger (or bitterness or whatever the new demonized emotion is) towards that person.

I’m here to cry bullshit on the whole charade.

Forgiveness isn’t necessary for healing.

Forgiveness is not necessary to “move on.”

It’s not even necessary in order to feel compassion or love for someone.

It’s not necessarily healthy.

In fact, more often than not, in the instances when forgiveness is prescribed (severe betrayal, severe hurt/abuse, severe tragedy, severe trauma), it’s actually harmful to the person needing to heal. There’s a reason why anger is listed as one of the main steps in grief—it’s important! Getting angry, feeling sad, holding someone else accountable, they’re all part of “moving on.”

What does a statement like “you just need to forgive” do? It heaps more guilt on the person who is experiencing those emotions—those necessary emotions—by making them feel like they’re wrong or unhealthy or weak for experiencing them. In other words, it’s blaming the victim, encouraging them to ignore their own needs and cater to another person’s desires.

It denies the mind’s natural way of healing itself.

You don’t get past the anger by suppressing it. You don’t move through grief by denying it. The only way to get through those difficult aspects of healing is by claiming the right to feel them.

And the only reason why forgiveness sounds so “positive” to us is because we have this fucking stigma about the shadow emotions being “negative” (which I discussed briefly here). We as a society don’t know how to handle those intense emotions, so we distance ourselves from them. And when someone else is experiencing them, we prescribe “forgiveness” as the fix-all that allows us to sound helpful without actually doing anything to help. If we move past the idea that shadow emotions are negative, suddenly the need to forgive by letting go of those emotions is non-existent, along with the need to distance ourselves from those emotions.

Does forgiveness ever have a place?


I’m an open-minded person and willing to consider that forgiveness really does have a legitimate purpose somewhere buried underneath all the bullshit–that it can potentially be a healthy  byproduct of healing in some circumstances. But I’d be more than willing to bet that, in those instances, the forgiveness happens fairly naturally.

In the instances where the hurt is bigger and the problems larger, i.e. whenever forgiveness takes up focus, it should be up to the individual to decide if that is something they need or even want.  It should be up to the individual to decide if the relationship is worth the work of restoration or if it’s safe to continue with that relationship. Moreover, it shouldn’t ever be the goal. Healing should be the goal, whether or not it includes forgiveness.

And without a genuine apology for the pain and damage caused and change to avoid repeating it, I don’t think forgiveness is either possible or healthy. Healing comes in those instances by learning to set boundaries, take a stand for your own needs, and hold the other person culpable for their actions, not by giving a blank check to someone who repeatedly hurts you.

I think it’s high time we forgive ourselves this absurd expectation that we should always forgive. It’s time to allow ourselves to recognize that healing isn’t about forgiving the other person; it’s about listening to ourselves.

170 thoughts on “Forgiveness is Bullshit

  1. Completely agree. I move on, I don’t forgive and there is no bitterness, And the people that I know who harp on about forgiveness never forget anything, they go on and on and on about whoever or whatever they claim to forgive. It’s a self-absorbed notion that makes people feel better but has no meaning. I would rather ride on my unicorn. Has about the same value.

    • Dough Boy says:

      I agree with you Samantha,

      I feel that people that claim to “forgive”, do it because they do not want to fully feel their anger or hurt in connection with who hurt them? So they never really get rid of their anger, they just keep stuffing it away. Hence, why they always have to keep coming back, over and over, about how much they have forgiven this or that person?

      If you constantly practice the “forgiving and forgetting” then you can easily deny and suppress you’re feelings of anger in relation to it?

      In my opinion forgiveness is just an easy “traditional” cop out for people to “consciously” deny their own emotions, but in the end the body has the last word. And the body will say yes, when you’re mind says no…

      In other words, those emotions will never disappear, no matter how much you try to get rid of them. They will always be expressed in some way or another, either overtly or covertly…

      • It’s an unfortunate aspect of our society that people feel compelled to ignore their own emotions, especially anger and grief. I don’t doubt that there are those who can forgive and truly forgive in a healthy way. After all, most of us have to learn to forgive some things throughout life because relationships are going to get a little messy. However, there’s a difference, I think, in forgiving and restoring a relationship to a healthy place and in suppressing emotions and ignoring the harm done by an action.

    • Forgiveness if often misunderstood says:

      I love the idea that forgiveness is a CHOICE. A choice that an individual makes for him or herself. It may not be for everyone. Thus, one can forgive and it can be very healing but it does not have to be for everyone. I wish that others holding a negative view of forgiveness would recognize the same idea. It is not helpful to talk in generalizations, such as, “All who talk about forgiveness….”. This may be true for some but not for all. Please don’t make generalizations and assumptions people in favor of forgiveness or those who choose to forgiveness. Also, make sure that you accurately understand what forgiveness is and is not as well as the contexts surrounding forgiveness before advising against it or making assumptions about the people who choose to forgive or advocate forgiveness for healing.

      • Dough Boy says:

        Of course forgiveness is a choice…

        A lot of people choose to not deal or look at their feelings all the time, it is nothing new.
        And forgiveness is a part of that, in fact to “forgive and forget” is one of the oldest “tricks” in the book for denying your feelings in my opinion.

        Also why should we not advise against forgiveness, if it has had negative effects in our lives? Shouldn’t we warn others of the dangers of forgiveness, if we know about them?

        Why can there never be a counter argument against forgiveness? Why should there only be one opinion, that forgiveness is “always best”?

        I HIGHLY suggest reading this article for people to make up their own mind whether they want to forgive or not?

        “Concerning Foregiveness: The Liberating Experience of Painful Truth” by Alice Miller”

        But why should we turn a blind eye to something that could be destructive?

      • Forgiveness if often misunderstood says:

        If you knew anything about forgiveness, you would know that forgiveness is not FORGETTING! One does not forget a deep, personal, and unfair hurt, although one can forgive such a hurt. And the second step in Enright et al’s (1991) interpersonal forgiveness model is anger. This means that before one can forgive, he or she needs to get angry, in a safe and healthy way, about what was done unfairly to them. Forgiveness is not possible until one expresses and deals with all their feelings about being hurt. Knowledge and informed criticisms of forgiveness are always appreciated. Spouting off about what you think forgiveness is and is not or involves is NOT helpful!

  2. Dough Boy says:

    I agree with you magical.

    Also I believe that most people in the world (not all) have been brought up “not to feel” their own emotions, probably since childhood.
    And as a general rule, people in general, avoid their own emotions because they don’t know how to deal with the pain, or how to face their fear of feeling those scary emotions? So this mostly results in people resorting to avoiding their feelings all together, and then they’re left with a crushing emptiness inside?

    And of course this emptiness is then filled with addiction, or other behaviours. Anything, but, feel that pain, anger, humiliation etc. , all those ugly feelings. But we cannot live a full adult life without taking our feelings seriously. Only children are not affected by their denial and emotional blindness.

  3. MikeyAngry says:

    After reading this article and others about the topic, I’ve come to the conclusion that forgiveness is an arcane idea, and one that demands the offender be given lower status. In this country, we’re taught from birth to allow others to shit on us, almost indiscriminately, because ‘forgiveness’ is a ‘sign of being a bigger person’… Which basically means that when we forgive, we’re elevating ourselves above someone dumber and less mature than us.
    Accountability is a long forgotten staple of real life. It’s time to resume the practice.

  4. Dough Boy says:

    “If you knew anything about forgiveness, you would know that forgiveness is not FORGETTING!”

    What makes you such an expert on forgiveness then?

    And since when am I just “spouting” stuff on forigveness?
    I have read countless of articles such as this one and Alice Miller’s, plus I have my own experience about forgiveness. Why am I not allowed to comment on that? Unless you personally don’t like what I’m saying, and you try to make me shut up right?

    What you are saying is very rude! And it’s like saying that we can’t talk about the moon, because we have never personally visited the moon?

    Like I said, people can read this article for themselves and then make their mind up about forgiveness. They don’t have to be dictated by you
    about how they should think of forgiveness or not!?

    “Forgiveness if often misunderstood”

    “Concerning Foregiveness: The Liberating Experience of Painful Truth by Alice Miller”

  5. Alex Upstart says:

    Yes! Beautifully written! You put into words all of the reasons that the mandate to forgive has always made me feel uncomfortable. It does not serve the person who has been hurt; it is a way of freeing the abuser of any responsibility or discomfort. Thank you for explaining this so thoroughly and thoughtfully; I would love to send everyone who posts a “forgive and forget” meme to your page.

  6. Katrina Gilbert says:

    Thank you for speaking the truth! I agree with the other comments saying that forgiving is not forgetting. It’s not wise or healthy to allow a person to hurt you repeatedly because you continually forgive and forget about it, with no apology or effort to reconcile on their part. In some relationships within my family, that notion has led to continued emotional abuse and enabling of bad behavior with no accountability. It’s not much different than “sweeping it under the rug” . The situation is unacceptable.

  7. Jack Weber says:

    and from “listening to ourselves” and passing through our emotions, we forgive, as a byproduct of our own authenticity and process. feeling oru feelings comes first, but then forgiveness happens as a result, often enough, i find. Shadow gives rise to light.

  8. Pat says:

    What a relief to read this common sense article!

  9. Stacy says:

    Thank you!!! Well said!!!

  10. Ann says:

    So true I have never understood forgiveness as an excuse for nastiness. It’s excusing abusers actions. Joke is the children that forgive are the nice ones that get picked out by the wannabe Narcs. Yea right like a narc would forgive as children and beyond as as adult. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries and protection of those boundaries are the lessons for children. How to spot a Narc being a useful starting point. I have a bet that there’s a lot more out there than we are told. Afterall our society rewards them, I’ll say no more bout that. Any sort of abuse is abuse, denying this in anyway to ourselves, cannot be healthy, I stand by that. Work through how it made you feel. Practice a whole new tool set of communication skills and awareness of these freaks so you can get away form them and pass the knowledge of this onto others. These people need to be brought out of the shadows not excused. Acceptance makes more logical sense to me then let the person off. So you can accept the whole hideousness of it and make moves to move on. They are damaged they have and will continue to abuse people for the rest of their lives what they did was not a one off. Abuse isn’t a mistake of a nice person. They are twisted and live there life that way. Empathy is the answer! Not invalidating your children when communicating to them also. Giving your children posessional everything and idolising them isn’t empathy. This as well as obvious abuse can also make abusers of them.

  11. Hannah says:

    Thank you. I’ve had a hard time explaining to others that this is exactly how I feel. I keep being told to forgive my abuser in order to fully heal myself. But I can’t, and won’t, and don’t want to forgive Or pardon his heinous acts. I grant no pardon.

  12. aqua says:

    I entirely agree with the sentiments of your post, including the nausea at the superficiality and emotional manipulation and dishonesty of it all.

    I think its really important for all of us to consider that the concept of forgiveness is due to the pervasive influence of Christianity on our psyches and culture, irrespective of our personal levels of religiosity.

    Im not religious but I totally understand the burden of guilt imposed by not ‘Forgiving’ adequately or being able or wishing to – and I mean specifically in the face of denial of the behaviour and frankly thats outrageous!

    This HuffPost article talks about the Jewish approach to forgiveness and it makes perfect sense to me. And I find it really freeing to consider that the American/European fixation, isnt the only approach.

    Heres an extract.

    “Forgiveness was a dilemma for me because I couldn’t see myself forgiving what I felt were unforgivable deeds. I talked to my rabbi about it and learned that the emphasis on forgiveness in our society comes from Christianity. It’s what Jesus did, and since we are basically a Christian society, following the example of Jesus has become the gold standard.

    In the Jewish tradition you don’t have to forgive unless you feel like it, or unless your ex has made amends. You will not necessarily suffer if you don’t forgive. Forgiveness is not the only way to heal from hurt, betrayal, emotional or physical abuse. You will move on anyway because unless you hang on to your hurts, nursing them with more and more attention, they will naturally fade with time. Forgiveness may, or may not, have anything to do with moving on. We are human, our wounds heal, hurts of the past recede into the past and the pain they caused lessens over the years. Just like any other kind of grief, the pain caused by betrayal or abuse fades whether or not we forgive our exes. Forgiveness often happens organically, after enough time has passed.

    Before talking to my rabbi, I certainly had no idea what my own religion taught. Unlike the Christian approach, which is based on doing what Jesus would do, Jews base their beliefs on doing the right thing. In the Jewish tradition you’re not obligated to forgive someone unless they’ve sincerely expressed remorse and convinced you of their sincerity. In fact the offender is mandated by God to ask for forgiveness three times and only then is the victim religiously required to forgive. However, if the wrongdoer does not apologize there is no religious obligation to grant forgiveness. Additionally, in Judaism, a wrongdoer must apologize to those he has harmed in order to be entitled to forgiveness. A person can only obtain forgiveness from God for wrongs done to God, not for wrongs done to other people.”

  13. Jenina says:

    This is one of the most sensible articles I have read so far….no trace of hypocrisy.

  14. Brilliant ….. Just brilliant. I love it when someone stands up and speaks a real truth without any denial. I must read this again to really absorb this very helpful insight. Thank you.

  15. […] -> Source: Forgiveness is Bullshit <- […]

  16. forgiveness is nonsense, some things are unforgivable but when a person gives into rage , it binds them to the person that injured them , forever ! they not only hurt you at that time but continue to even though they are not there , you cant forget but you can temper it , my advice is you either kill that person or move on and I’m not being snide

  17. Junella Pedro says:

    Try this for a new definition of forgiveness:
    If an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth would bring about justice… then forgiveness is letting go of your right to administer justice to someone who has done wrong, whereby relieving yourself of the burden to punish the offender.

    • suzanne Freedman says:

      Forgiveness is the idea of letting go of personal revenge for an offense, not public justice. Thus, rather than me taking personal revenge, I will hold the person accountable through the justice system if appropriate. There are many misconceptions about what forgiveness is and is not and this leads to a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings of the healing aspects of forgiveness for the individual and society.

  18. V. Hill says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Finally someone who agrees with my thoughts!

  19. Colleen McLean says:

    I have struggled with this claim of forgiveness all my life. Like a magic pill I just never fully grasped the idea, made the connection and like a drug addict I have had multiple relapses into my angry little world. “Forgiveness” never taught me how to handle a similar situation differently. I am more faulty in nature than I care to be but my kindness rules over my common sense. I repeat good deeds because of my rusted idea of trust. I have to forgive myself more times than anyone else. I love all your definitions and agree how forgiveness is bullshit especially in the absence of any apology or action of change. Thank you.

  20. I really like your thoughts on this subject. Though, I’d like to add this perspective:

    When it comes to fundamental or Christian forgiveness, Christ is often seen as heroic in his ability to forgive because people are amazing by his ability to be the “bigger man” after being crucified. I think its’ this aspect of psychology (being impressed by forgiving outrageous sin or indiscretion) that motivates alot of this suppression of so-called “negative” emotion: The idea that you’re somehow being small or petty by not being forgiving.

    I actually disagree with this take on Christianity. The victim who chooses not to forgive, or to forgive naturally in their own time, I think is behaving in a more Christian way by actually holding evil accountable, or by holding those accountable for their sins. (Which is what God does.)

    Although Christ generously forgive his tormentors, (on the grounds that they “knew not.”) And although we are called to be like Christ. a true Christian apology requires three parts in order to be absolved or forgiven:

    Sincere remorse. “I’m sorry.”

    An admission of guilt. “This is what I did.”

    Repentance. “What can I do to fix this/ make it better?”

    Only then can someone be truly forgiven or absolved of their sins and wrongdoings.

  21. Heidi says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!! Now, may my healing begin…

  22. katie says:

    This is the best blog post i have seen on the internet in a long time! thank you so much for writing it. I’ll be sharing it far and wide!

  23. ray says:

    the moralism behind forgiving is a mis-reading of the Bible – Jesus tells a parable about a servant who was unforgiving to a debtor who was REPENTANT. The whole dangerous misconstruction is the idea that forgiveness must be unconditional – God’s forgiveness is certainly not otherwise there would be nobody in hell. So why are we held to a higher standard than God?

  24. chadadair says:

    You are right that we shouldn’t forgive Willy Nilly, to use an Old Testament expression.

    In a very simple way, God doesn’t forgive the unrepentant. At least not pragmatically anyway, they still go to Hell, right?

    Does that mean that we should only forgive those who are remorseful?

    Not necessarily.

    I agree that the modern concept of forgiveness is probably naiive compared to the way that the Jews of Jesus’day thought about it. However, I find it very disappointing that you recognize that truth and still continue to use a Contemporary definition for the term, rather than understanding the context of how the Jews in Jesus’ day thought about forgiveness.

    The Jews basically thought of forgiveness like a financial transactions. One person owes an ammount. But someone comes in and pays the fee on the behalf of the other person. The original “debt” has been forgiven.

    So to forgive means basically what people call “pay it foreward” in the modern era. We are to demonstrate true love to the people around us. That is how we move forward and forgive the wrongs of the distant past.

    Should we surgar-coat the evils of this world with a cherry on top? Jesus certainly did not do that when He knocked over the tables in the marketplace, so no.

    But we can forgive our fellow mankind by being a light in a dark world, and treating people in the way that we would hope that they would treat us.

    • That makes even less sense than the modern idea of forgiveness but certainly shares some of the elements that I think are bullshit…such as forgiving a debt. There’s also a world of difference between Jesus protesting corruption in the temple (please know your Bible. It wasn’t a marketplace) by knocking over tables and chairs and forgiving someone who has done something egregious against an individual personally. I could get into it, but it seems a little laughable to bring Jesus up as an example after I basically said that I find him a horrible example on this issue.

      • chadadair says:

        I have studied the Bible both academically and privately for over 30 years. You state that “it was not a marketplace”., but that is precisely what the people made it to be, and that is the whole point. Its true purpose for the reverence for God was ignored for the means of mere profit. The area in question was the temple court. The original design and purpose of the outer court of the temple was for prayer. However merchants instead transitioned to selling the elements necessary for sacrifice and probably did not charge fair pricing. The true purpose of the outer court of the temple was turned into a marketplace for selling of the sacrificial item. Jesus, as the Son of God, understood the essential nature of prayer over sacrifice for a proper communication with God.

        On forgiveness however, Jesus paid a debt that he did not owe as an extension of God’s love. God forgave us our sins, because Christ paid our debt. It is only through Christ that we can find true peace to those who of their own freedom of thought choose to believe in Him.

      • ray says:

        I haven’t the slightest idea what you are talking about.
        God does not forgive unconditionally otherwise Hell would not exist. What the conditions are , is somewhat unclear, but regardless we are not gods. We are vulnerable to nasty jerks that can damage us – and not dealing with nasty jerkiness by forgiving it, is ridiculous. The whole discussion is moot in any case, because even Christians don’t live in that self-desctructive way.

  25. greeleygray says:

    I grew up in a fundamentalist church, though I am Buddhist now. I remember the Bible saying that God required us to confess and repent before he forgives. Why should I not require the same? Confession meaning that you admit you inflicted pain or harm… not just an insincere “I’m sorry.” Repentance meaning that you demonstrate that you have learned your lesson and that you will never behave the same way again. I may or may not forgive after confession and repentance have happened, but you can be certain I won’t forgive if they haven’t!

  26. Jenine says:

    It was pretty refreshing to read this article. Late last summer, I came out about being molested by one of my older half-siblings to my dad and a couple other relatives on his side of the family not to mention one of my maternal cousins’ ex-girlfriend who then proceeded to tell quite a bit of people on my mom’s side. I feel like there is no reconciling with my family after all they put me through over the years especially not my sister. I personally have no problem if someone wants to forgive another person for doing them wrong regardless of what it was. However, I do have an issue with people forcing it on someone who may not be ready to reconcile if they ever decide to do it. Because when you’re forced to forgive, you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for other people’s benefit including the abuser.

    The only reason why my aunt wanted me to forgive my sister for what she’s done is because she wanted me to not because I was ready. I wished I could’ve said more to her like how they’re still living their lives in a cult, but I was weak and besides my father wasn’t there to defend me (I’m not mad at him for wanting to see his friend on Thanksgiving day. LOL). Even when I still did talk to my sister (who did molest me btw), it got to the point where she was always asking me for money (and she had a job) yet putting me down for being out of work and not going to school. After a while, it got to the point where I was miserable around her because of the insults. The last three times we were around each other, I either cried at some point or felt horrible because she has reassured me several times that no one would be there for me if my father were to pass. I know part of this is my fault because I brought up the issue first, but my mom’s family used it against me to show that they’re not supportive of what I do.

    I see a counselor now and when I go to my next appointment, I will tell her that there is no reconciling with my family. They’re the type of people who say they’re sorry and don’t mean it. I know how they operate. I don’t need people with empty apologies and promises.

    • I’m sorry you had to go through that. Only you can decide if forgiving them is what you want, can, or need to do, and your healing isn’t contingent on forgiving. I wish you all the best in your journey. This might be a great thing to discuss with your counselor if you haven’t talked about it before. If she’s open to your feelings on the matter, that’s a great sign. However, if she pressures you to reconcile…that might be important information about her not being a good fit. A good counselor will follow your lead and pace on healing from trauma, not pushing you to do anything you don’t want to do around either cutting off or re-connecting with an abuser. I’d also highly recommend “The Courage to Heal,” a great book about healing from sexual abuse with sections talking about forgiveness, reconciliation, and confrontation. Some people find one or all of those beneficial; others do not. The important thing is that each person gets to decide for themselves what their healing journey looks like.

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