The Question of Forgiveness

This has sat in my draft box since 30 May 2016. It’s a very angry response to the issue of forgiveness after my father’s death. It raises the hair on my arms reading this, feeling the anger roll off in waves. Time has passed and with distance, some perspective gained. At this moment in time, I’m still working on the idea of forgiveness in my head. For what I demand of others, I shall be held to account in myself.

I find it infuriating being told over and over that I need to forgive my abusers. I’ve heard many good-natured people tell me this bit of homely advice over the years. As if it’s for my own good that I should heed their advice. Well, let me tell you something, Fuck No!

I’m not sure where they get off, thinking they can pass on this tidbit of advice as if it’s the right thing to do when facing someone who absolutely refuses to forgive this crime.

It’s divine to forgive.
It’s for you that you forgive him.
You forgive so that you can move on.

Blah blah blah. It’s a crock of shit, that’s what it is. Not everything is forgivable nor should it ever be. Some things are so horrible that forgiveness is unattainable. And what is this phantom damage done to me if I don’t forgive? Oh, the old train of being able to move on with my life, the whole letting it go portion that is a part of recovery. I have moved on with my life. I don’t live in the past mixing in on my present. That’s what I’ve gained for myself, not him.

None of you get to the right to tell me or any abuse survivor that we need to forgive. It’s bullshit. It takes away our anger. It takes away the right to our anger and you don’t get to do that. I have every right to be angry and I am. As should any person who as lived with the shit I endured.

I have a right to my anger. And I have the right to not forgive him. This isn’t about being a good person and letting go of the past from a spiritual perspective. It’s about setting boundaries and standing firm.

Saying, ‘I forgive you’, is letting the other person know everything is okay, that it’s something that can be worked through and moved past. It’s something said for many things and rightfully so.

I choose to draw the line. It was my choice, my boundary. What was done to me is unforgivable. So why would I ever forgive him, either in life or in death? I will not.

And those who promote forgiveness carelessly do harm. I do not expect everyone to accept my choice. It’s been made clear to me that forgiveness is a very touchy issue.

Forgiveness isn’t acceptance. Forgiveness isn’t for yourself. It is rather the outcome of a conversation that makes restitution to the one who’s been wronged.

Say someone stole some sentimental things from me. And in the silence of this person’s actions, I become angry and upset. Is there any reason for me not to be? Say this anger upsets me so much I can’t confront this person over what they have done. Is this where forgiveness is given? Too many people I’ve met say yes. I could choose to let it go, let go of the anger. That is not the same as forgiveness. Letting it go is something done for myself, not for the other person. And let’s say this hypothetical thief, later on, confronts me and asks for my forgiveness. Now I have a choice. Have they been repetitive? Have they never stole from anyone else? Have they confessed their crimes? Have they tried to make things right with me? If the answer to each of those questions is a no, tell me why I should forgive them?

I wouldn’t be looking to restore a relationship with them. I wouldn’t be wanting to act like a friend around them. It’s not a matter of seeking revenge by withholding forgiveness. It is a statement of redemption or in this case, their lack of it. I would not forgive them. Forgiveness is wiping the slate clean, a pardon of past crimes. Restoring them to a condition of innocence, of not holding their past crimes against them. It would not be right to forgive a person who’s done nothing to earn forgiveness. To forgive carelessly opens up more doors to your own abuse. Forgive the thief in silence and he may again steal more. Forgive again, and even more is lost. Get angry. Stand your ground. Demand things change for if they do not change, no further relationship can be had with them.

Forgiveness is about relationships, you and the person who did you wrong but they must seek to repair that relationship that they broke due to their actions. Some relationships are permanently broken. Some things are simply unforgivable.

Additional Reading:

To Forgive or Not Forgive: That is the Question

Forgiveness Is Good, Up to a Point

Does “Forgiveness” Make Sense?

Why Forgiveness is Overrated

Why Being Unable To Forgive Makes You Smart, Not Weak

Why I Reject Forgiveness Culture



About Isabella LeCour

She is nothing more than the collections of thoughts placed into the virtual worlds. She is a poet, a mother, a lover, many things to different people. But mostly, she is nothing but smoke and mirrors - some ethereal thing that blinks in an out of existence.
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One Response to The Question of Forgiveness

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Isabella. I too have reflected on this pretty often, particularly where it concerns what often seems mindless platitudes people dole out about forgiveness (and other things) which can seem more like someone’s (many someones) discomfort with the ‘less pretty’ cheerful facade, and also maybe their discomfort at just holding a space in empathy for what’s really arising, rather than trying to quickly cover it up and make it go away with those easy-to-say platitudes. I’ve come to wonder whether it’s really a matter of coming to a certain place with such things within ourselves, within our own mind, heart, and being, if that makes sense. ~ Jamie

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