If the wounds are too fresh and the thought of forgiving the person who abused and upset you hurts too much, honor that. There is no shame in not being ready. It is normal and everyone’s timeline is different. Close the article for the time being or read it for nothing more than future reference, with no pressure or expectations. Allow yourself to feel all that you do, the pain included, with as much passion and purpose as possible. After a while, come back to it. Examine what you have gained, rather than concentrate on what you have lost, even if what you have lost is significant. The hope is that your personal growth is also significant and that the positive things you come to learn about yourself are far greater. Believe it or not, the day may come when you are not only able to forgive, but thank the person who brought you here, but that is all in time…
Forgiveness can be a tough subject to broach when the ones we are considering forgiving are the psychopaths who harmed us. Eventually, however, we should try to find a way to do it.
Why we should forgive
Resentment and anger eat away at us. Even though we may have been seriously wronged by the psychopaths who crossed our paths, holding on to those feelings hurts us, not them. Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.” While it seems like an easy enough concept to grasp, putting it into practice may prove more challenging. While in the midst of the anger, confusion, and disbelief that almost always accompanies our brushes with psychopathy, it’s tough to imagine forgiving the person who tried to hurt us. But forgiveness is a funny thing. The reason it must occur has less to do with our wrong-doers, and more to do with us. Forgiving helps us heal.
What does the process look like?
This will not come easy or fast. In fact, it would be wrong to rush it. We must honor each of the stages of the grief process in order to fully heal. But eventually, we have to let go of any remaining ill feelings so that we can grow and move forward. The psychopaths’ acts may have been truly horrible, so we need not excuse them, but we can learn not to allow them to damage us further. As long as we are caught in negative feelings, our offenders are still winning. Hopefully, we can come to the place where we re-empower ourselves and re-gain control of our lives.
Forgiveness does not need to mean forgetting. We should not forget what happened to us or behave as if it never occurred. Rather, we should remember what we went through so that we don’t allow the evil back in or repeat our pasts with others in the future. Further, we need not expect anything from those who did us harm. In cases such as ours, they either enjoyed what they did or to us or were merely using us for their own “advancement.” There are no sincere apologies coming from them….ever, so do not look for one. This is about us and our peace and we can do this without seeing them or exchanging any words. For once, it is actually all about us.
What we come to feel
Recently, someone new to the struggle asked me how I feel about what happened to me and how I feel about the person in my situation. I had to think for a moment, but finally decided that I feel “nothingness.” Where I was once consumed with emotion, I now see this person as a void. It is almost like a chapter of my life that did not exist, in spite of the fact that it was extremely significant.
I know that the situation was real and awful. I care about and acknowledge what occurred, as the storm I weathered hit with a tsunami-like force. However, I lived, learned, and somehow, grew. I think I became a better person along the way, as a result. Without the experience, I don’t think I would have realized that I was only living half alive, realizing only a portion of my potential. I would not have known the strength I was capable of, without this test.
I believe that when we no longer allow them control over us, we come to feel “even” again. At that point, what once existed as love, hate, anger, and sadness disappears, becoming “nothingness.” We come to see our perpetrators as insignificant, even if their acts were not. It is then that we can forgive because what was, no longer matters.
We can move toward the future for ourselves and those we care about. For the first time, probably in a long time, the psychopath takes a permanent back seat, regardless of any residual antics. It takes time and the road is long, but eventually, we can release the demons and thrive. The rewards will come. They may not be concrete or quantifiable, but we will begin to recognize them when we feel them.