Healing Doesn’t Always Mean Forgiving

Note: This is a slightly revised version of my post which originally appeared on the Wellness Universe blog on August 2, 2020. 

My marriage to my children’s father included a great deal of emotional and verbal abuse from him, along with behavior that can only be labeled toxic. That behavior and abuse continued off and on even after I ended the marriage, until last year when I finally severed all possible means he had of reaching me. He has caused lasting emotional damage for me, with the result that I have been in therapy for over a decade to work on healing from what he did as well as from other abuses I’ve experienced in my life.

In some corners of the spiritual community, I would be told to forgive him. I might even be told that forgiving him is the only way I could “truly” heal.

I disagree.

My spiritual mentor taught me that when it comes to harm caused by others, forgiveness equates to admitting that person has power over you. My mentor’s advice was, instead, to practice acceptance. “I accept that this occurred in my life, and that it was the choice of the person who caused the damage to do so. I accept that it was not about me, but about them. I accept that I am a good person regardless and can move on with my life.”

Forgiveness, as preached and practiced by some, not only involves acknowledging someone’s role and power in your life, but also often includes allowing that person to remain in your life. Again, according to those who espouse this way of thinking, the only way to be genuinely healed is to continue to allow the person who wounded you to be around you, even at the risk of being wounded again.

And again, I disagree.

In my view, someone’s first priority is to take care of themselves. To practice self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance. Sometimes, this means removing other people from your life. I had little choice about allowing my kids’ father to remain in my life; we shared children, and the court refused to believe what I told them about his abuse, so I was legally compelled to coparent with him. That exposure to him and his abuse did an additional near-decade of emotional and mental harm to me, until my children were old enough that I was no longer under that legal obligation. And the moment that became the case, I cut that tie.

Allowing someone toxic or abusive to remain in your life in the name of “forgiveness” doesn’t serve you or bring any benefit to anyone except the toxic/abusive person, who continues to have an unobstructed license to continue their behavior. This is not “true healing.” This is ego speaking, telling you that you have to act in a “more spiritual” way to prove that you’re really healed and enlightened. (An exception might be made for someone who has been toxic or abusive in the past but has demonstrated remorse, willingness and ability to change, and has expressed apology and made amends for their behavior.)

True healing comes when you embrace yourself as the incredible being you were created as, and choose to conduct your life and relationships in a way that honors yourself, your needs, and your health. And sometimes that means forgiveness doesn’t happen, at least not as it’s often preached–and that is okay. You have the right to set boundaries for yourself. You have the right to say, “This person is unhealthy for me.” And you have the right to forgive–or accept–in the way that works best for you.

I work with people who have experienced abuse, bullying, and trauma and are learning to forgive and accept themselves above all, providing Chios Energy Healing, channeling, and mindset coaching to facilitate their healing journey. I would love to talk with anyone who is on that journey about how I might help. Channeling sessions, which have been on hold due to my recent surgery, will resume on Monday; Chios Energy Healing sessions are unavailable until November 2, but I can share some suggestions for ways to rebalance and restore your own energy system. You can learn more on my website, http://www.riverevolutions.com, or my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/riverevolutions.