Updated: Mar 12, 2021
This article was completed late one Friday night in 2011 as part of a 30-minute writing challenge between fellow writers. When under pressure, the creative flow just happens and the words came directly from my own perceptions of my own experiences. It is still being read today. As part of this series on Feelings and Emotions, this topic is part of the journey to let go of anger and resentment
I have found forgiveness to be one of the most difficult acts toward a person who has abused me. In fact, forgiveness is so hard I've not done it. When the imprint of abuse is so ingrained and has left scars that determine your course in life as one of torment and struggle - that's a bitter pill to swallow. Do you think I'm going to forgive the abuser? No way.
Abuse comes in two forms, physical or emotional. How that abuse is acted out takes many forms: physical beltings, sexual abuse, neglect, verbal torment. One form is no better than the other and if I had a preference I'd chose neither. You'll often see how people cringe more hearing about physical abuse because you can see the bruising, see the blood and swollen face. Physical or emotional scars can lay the foundation for feeling worthless and forever being in a state of justifying your existence. Continually portraying traits of convincing others that you are worthy of living on this rock and breathing the same air as anyone else.
The eggshell syndrome (I'm sure it has a more intelligent term in psych circles) is quite common not only for children but adults who have endured an upbringing where their environment does not feel safe. You tiptoe through the family home, hoping not to be noticed, or hoping you don't upset anyone. And if you are extremely good and quiet perhaps you won't feel like you're to blame for world war three in the kitchen. Why is it that when parents fight with each other, the child thinks it's their fault? Later in life that eggshell feeling often turns into resentment toward the parent and a desire not to be near them. Why are they surprised to learn this when their children don't want to visit?
Children are usually resilient, they cope. They cope by finding ways to defend themselves and it's often in the form of a loss of innocence, a closing and using character traits that enable survival while the bombs are going off. The more land mines they've stepped in, the more coping mechanisms are put in place. Once they have fully armed themselves you can be assured they have become their own commander in chief and trust no-one, especially the people who were supposed to love them. Life is war and it's each man for himself. Imagine if the child could have used all that survival energy toward more creative pursuits like music lessons or tadpole collection.
Often you will hear in therapy sessions or healing sessions the word forgive. When you are able to forgive them you are released. I have always found this act loaded. In my mind forgiving a person for abusing me is somehow saying it is okay for them to have abused me. It's like giving them permission somehow to have committed the act. It has never sat well with me. In fact, I just can't do it. I can't forgive, especially if forgiveness, in my mind, means saying it is okay that you abused me. Nope. Not going to happen.
The only way I've been able to deal with these experiences is to accept they happened. I find acceptance completely different from forgiveness. It's not my role, not my job, not my business to forgive someone else for the acts they commit. What use is it anyway? I can however accept why they did it. Most likely it's to do with their own upbringing, their own life circumstances. It's their way of handling what life has dealt them. But that is their business. It's up to themselves to accept what they have done. It's up to themselves or some inner judge to heal them. Not me.
For me to heal and let go, I have to accept that it happened. And as with many of life's experiences, ensure that I'm not on the receiving end of further abuse. My biggest lesson so far in life is to know that I do not have to take responsibility for the actions of others. As a child I did feel responsible for the emotions of my parents............and everyone else who was not happy. What the.......?
The wisdom of Sadhguru-take away the bitterness in your own heart
There can be a lot of flying artillery on this battlefield called life. It pays to get armed with a few life skills. Hard to do as a child, however. But you can't change your life for the better when the bitterness pill is still in your mouth. Spit it out. Don't forgive them, let some higher power do that instead. Accept your life's challenges, and get even by getting stronger.
Thankfully, after much soul searching, inner pain and eventually acceptance, I let go of my anger and resentment which was a toxic rock in my body. These held emotions were hurting me not the abuser and I feel so much lighter for dealing with them.
So you know you are not alone, below are several comments from readers who were affected by the topic and expressed their personal views and experiences. You may resonate and get some peace alongside them.
lex123 on July 08, 2016:
Though it was written in such a short time it is a powerful hub. Forgiveness makes us feel free and peaceful, and it is good for our own mental health. Thanks for sharing.
Suzie from Carson City on March 17, 2016:
Jewels.....I'm overwhelmed. I don't know how I've not seen this fabulous hub in all these years, but so glad I finally read it.
Jewels you are one of very very few people who have ever felt the same way I do about "forgiveness." I am taken aback and also relieved to discover more and more individuals are willing to admit that "forgiveness" is not for them to do. I believe this, always have, always will. The only human beings who are an exception for me are my children. They have an automatic forgiveness from me at all times.
I read your words and could literally FEEL what you feel in terms of this attitude and belief. You needn't even explain to me. I understand totally.
I always say...."No, It will not do a single positive thing for me to tell an abuser I forgive them....nothing positive for me and in no way do I care to "give" them anything positive. They can forgive themselves if they like and ask God for forgiveness if they believe in Him, but they'll not get mine." I have an uncanny knack to erase these lowly people from my mind and my life and go forward to be better than they are and live a much more successful life than they ever could.
I love this hub, Jewels and I thank you for sharing!... Peace, Paula
Nell Rose from England on March 16, 2016:
Hi, I am sure I have read this before, but as I have a terrible memory then it is okay! lol! I am terrible for forgiving, I have the brain of an elephant where revenge is concerned. but saying that I never go through with revenge just simmer! lol!
muhammad abdullah javed on August 16, 2015:
Yes you are true, to forgive is like swallowing a bitter pill, it's one of the hardest traits to cultivate. I think true love develop in hearts only when forgiveness become a part of our personality. Verily sometimes it's very difficult to forgive but when it's done knows no bound of an increase in self-respect and self-esteem. Thanks, Jewels for such a wonderful hub. Voted up.
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on June 28, 2013:
To forgive is one thing and to forget is another. There are some offences that are easy to forgive and there are those that you just can't. Of course, one part of me will say go ahead and try to forgive. But the other side will simply say, move on and deal with the situation. As much as I want to believe that there is good in people, at times, the actions of many make me doubt it.
Kathryne Waller from Knoxville, TN USA on October 29, 2012:
Great hub! Forgiveness isn't at all about forgetting, but of letting go. You never do it for the other person, but for yourself. When you forgive, you set yourself free to move forward! Thank you for choosing this topic to share.
quicksand on July 25, 2012:
Yeah, I am with you all the way. Blame it on their upbringing or their "unfortunate childhood" or the circumstances which led them to do whatever they did, but ... never forgive!
The higher power does a great job in the end although it takes a loooong time for that to happen!
Lol, and cheers!
Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on March 01, 2012:
Wow! Great writing on such a personal topic. Forgiveness and forgetting, I agree, no way for sure. Letting go and letting God, it does help with the pain. Awesome hub. Keep it up. Thank you!
mtsi1098 on August 04, 2011:
Jewels - this is certainly one of life's questions, isn't it? Do we forgive and forget? I do like your method of treating things as accepted but I believe that forgiveness has to be earned by a sincere apology. Now this all depends on the nature of the forgiveness but forgetting is a different issue for me. I can forgive but erasing a wrongful event is difficult to me and I know that everyone gets paid back for wrongful events so I can accept this in order for me to move forward...
Alexander Thandi Ubani from Lagos on August 01, 2011:
It is always difficult to forgive when someone you trust betrays you. I really understand you...
loneparentgiggles from GONE on July 20, 2011:
Hi Jewels, I found your hub really interesting, I myself for some time now have been trying to forgive my stepdad for things that occurred while I was growing up. I completely 'get' your description of 'eggshell syndrome' which I went through, and still go through at times, though now it's not being hurt that does it, it's any form of confrontation that makes me do my invisibility act. You're right, I feel the same, to forgive would be to condone the treatment I had as a kid and a teen. I look at it this way; I'm strong now, I swore I'd never be treated like that again, I accept that all the things that happened did truly happen, and almost welcome it, without my past I wouldn't be as strong as I am today.
Jo_Goldsmith11 on July 10, 2011:
Jewels! It has been too long since I have stopped by! First, I would like to send you love, peace and joy! This article hit nerves within me. It touched a deep chord. I think when we can frame it in a way that will allow us to benefit, not the person who committed the act. We can have a more productive life. I am still trying to "forgive" and forget the people who have hurt me and my children. I have had to reframe it where.... I know that they are flesh and blood. I am not as perfect to say that I have never unleashed similar acts (verbally) on someone else. (normally provoked) Hate is hate. And when people act in hate..the best thing we can do is light our candles and let ourselves glow in the light of the Lord. Many blessings! I voted this up! ;-)
SealBeach on July 04, 2011:
Jewels is awesome! I sleep much better now....!
pam on July 02, 2011:
Awesome essay Jewels. I think I understand what you are saying here. I see it more as 'letting go' as opposed to forgiveness, but it does seem to come in its own time, on its own schedule, and it is maddening to feel like it has to happen at will. In my experience, it only happens after all anger and sorrow have been exhausted, heard, released. Even then, as you say here, sometimes you just have to hand it over to a higher power. I don't think forgiveness comes from people. It comes from beyond people. If it doesn't come at command, yeah, turn it over, move on. :)
Tom rubenoff from United States on July 01, 2011:
Good advice. One must move on to be able to live now, when life is happening.
lyndre on June 28, 2011:
I have lived,(I like caliber's saying, with unwanted tenants living in my head ) for over 40 years.
2 days I challenged my abuser for the first time telling him I was going to jail him. I then went home and phoned the police.
I know because of the timescale he may get off with it. But I know now he will be one who crosses the street when he sees me, and not the way it has been the opposite for all these years.
The hardest part was confronting him.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on June 26, 2011:
Well you don't know me and I don't know you, but I know forgiveness is for your sake, not the person who is probably never going to change. I realized this soon after I married and I won't say how many hundreds of years ago that was. Mother-in-law, yep, cruel, harsh and never hid the fact she did not like me, yet she said she would know the world was ending if my husband, her son, and I ever divorced. She saw our love, she didn't have it with her husband, is that what made her that way? I don't know but I decided with her there was a reason to make people the way they are and I simply ignored it and no I didn't go around her much, but the last year of her life she liked me doing things the normal mean her would have never allowed, I helped take care of her with Alzheimer's, bathe her, etc and she called my husband, her son, Jackie's husband. That woman was not even too nice to her kids the last few years and she never hugged them or told them she loved them but the last time I saw her she was sitting up in a hospital bed and her hair I always did for her she liked better than anyone was so soft and curly and she had on pink, she looked like an angel and when I got to the door she looked at me and said, "I love you" and I almost dropped, I said it back and almost ran. I didn't go to her funeral and that last time is how I will always remember her.
50 Caliber from Arizona on June 26, 2011:
Jewels, forgiveness is for thy self, think about it, it doesn't involve walking up to anyone and saying "I forgive you" it involves just accepting and forgiving, in your mind and living your life without thinking about it every day and thinking what terrible luck should befall another. Now if they walked up and asked you, naming all the things they did and on, then that is a whole experience that you would have to live to know if they were sincere, you believed them, you had heart to say no, yes, I can't. Very deep subject.
I lost my left leg with below the knee amputation in the Corps. I was hailed a baby killer. I have to put that damn leg on every day, there is no forgetting for me, but in time there has been forgiveness. I don't even know who fired the shots that hit me, I hated anybody that looked Asian for 15 years, and America and the list goes on, I just gave those years to hate. I have not forgotten, but I have forgiven and accepted that all the hate won't grow another leg, I live my life now. Peace, 50
Feline Prophet on June 25, 2011:
You make us think, Jewels. A lot of us tend to use the word 'forgive' without really meaning it - much easier said than done.
Jean Bakula from New Jersey on June 25, 2011:
I find that most of your hubs are noteworthy, and this one is no different. Sometimes the people we love even do things that hurt us, without realizing it. But pain is pain, and I also feel that acceptance works, if forgiveness is too hard. It's a start. Thanks for a moving piece.
Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on June 25, 2011:
Jewels, if I could stand up and applaud, I would. In fact I am; in my mind. I wish I could do it and do it in the middle of a great auditorium of people doing the same.
It was a powerful hub, and it says everything to the milk and water people who tell us to forgive and forget... Forget? Maybe, but Forgive, never, It just offers them carte blanche to do it all again.
A brilliant and incisive hub, and I've marked it up, useful and awesome.
50 Caliber from Arizona on June 25, 2011:
Powerful piece, bearing a heavy load. I think acceptance is the first step to forgiveness. Forgiveness in no way requires me to ever have to associate with the offender[s] ever again, but to forgive and forget moves unwanted tenants from living rent free in my head. To forgive ultimately is to be forgiven in the end. The offenders have earned their rewards and it's not up to us how they get served. Peace 50
Rising Caren from New York on June 25, 2011:
When you talked about the difference between acceptance and forgiveness, it actually reminded me of a great cartoon where the wise main character kept trying to get his friend to forgive the man who had caused her so much pain.
No matter how much he tried, she refused to forgive. However, she did eventually accept it (mostly because she felt sorry for the man's patheticness), and I loved that. It would have just felt strange to know she'd have forgiven her mother's murderer.
Acceptance seems more real than forgiveness. Like you said, forgiveness is like saying it was alright for a person to wrong you. While it's fine for small things, I don't think truly horrible things (like abuse) should be forgiven.
Mark Ewbie from UK on June 25, 2011:
I read this and left it for a while because I didn't want to rush a comment. I'm still not sure what to say - what is the right thing to say? It moved me, it's well written, powerful.
Raymond D Choiniere from USA on June 25, 2011:
Hey Jewels, this is definitely an awesome hub for the challenge. Excellent. I also agree with what you said, it's not your place to forgive them. It's your place to accept that the acts happened. This acceptance should lead you to the next part, which is for you to forgive yourself, for putting yourself into that situation to begin with. It's a learning lesson and you apparently learned a lot from it. Great hub! :)
Shadesbreath from California on June 25, 2011:
What you are writing about to me seems like strength. IN a way, the words used "forgiveness" or "acceptance" can become the focus rather than the source of healing. (I came up in, well, let's just say not Leave it to Beaver.) And, in the end, you just have to understand how it works. Coyotes will eat kittens. Does that make them "evil?" Hmmm... maybe. Maybe not. But, I don't have to let myself suffer because I was little (a kitten) and got chewed on until I grew up and got my lion's claws.
Probably a crappy metaphor, but, well, it's hard to touch this topic. I'm really glad you did. Really awesome contribution to our 30-minute challenge. YOu went deeper than the rest of us, and, ... well, actually managed it. Nice!
Motown2Chitown on June 25, 2011:
Whether you made it in time or not, I had to read. This is a powerful piece. I understand what a struggle it can be to forgive. Sometimes, acceptance is the best way to move on.
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