This is not something I would recommend, actually, but necessity demands it in my situation. I won’t go into certain details at this time, because my head is a little fuzzy right now. Those details will probably be in another post.
One thing I have always been taught in the church was that I would only be hurting myself if I didn’t forgive someone. Forgiveness was such a coerced thing that a person could not even take Communion unless they had forgiven the offender who mouthed an apology for their actions, even if that apology was said moments before taking Communion himself (or herself) so that he/she could participate.
I was taught that the Father (God) would not forgive you if you do not forgive others. Those who “harbor a seed of bitterness in their hearts” were considered a bit of a cancer and to be “marked and avoided” in the church. Of course, if you’re not forgiven by God for your sins, you can’t go to Heaven. So if you don’t forgive, the logical conclusion is that you go to Hell. How nice.
Besides all the theological implications of unforgiveness, I was taught that unforgiveness would have profoundly negative emotional, psychological and, by extension, physiological effects on my health and well-being. Well, the abuse and resulting PTSD (yes, it was diagnosed and there wasn’t enough evidence to convict by that time unfortunately) certainly did have these effects. But the unforgiveness itself? I disagree.
I’m learning that I can “harbor” unforgiveness and feel at peace while doing so. I’m not being mentally forced or coerced into forgiveness that I’m not yet ready to give. I have gone through probably most of the stages of grief in the past couple of years. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive him…. I can forgive him, but that will largely depend on him and his actions in the future. In the meantime, I am learning to work with him in certain areas while being at peace with the fact that I still blame him for the set of actions that he took. Perhaps I am detaching and compartmentalizing for my own mental protection while I can’t be rid of him. I still don’t have to forgive him. Not unless and until I am ready.
I don’t have to practice my best glowing filled-with-the-Spirit smile and act as if it never happened. I don’t have to feel guilty about failure to forgive and forget. I don’t have to “bring my thoughts into captivity.” I can think whatever I like and say,”Yep, that’s what I think of him unless he genuinely changes. Now let’s schedule this xyz with the kids.”
Normally, I recommend no-contact with an abuser. In my case, that isn’t possible (it would be a lot healthier, but I’m not getting into that right now). If contact is necessary, I’m not holding myself to blame for my feelings about him.
As long as he’s behaving himself in the present, I’ll just deal with him. Maybe he’s learned his lesson.
I don’t forgive him. Not at this point anyway.
And I’m pretty okay with that. 🙂