For as long as I can remember, people have been saying that you should “forgive and forget,” and I can agree with that most of the time. If it’s a little thing like “I accidentally took your favorite pen, sorry,” you should forgive that. However, I think that there are some cases where you don’t have to forgive people for what they did. Albeit much more serious scenarios, but my point still stands.
Whenever I say I like holding grudges and I don’t think you’re obligated to forgive everyone for everything, people give me kind of nasty looks. It’s ingrained in our culture that we should always be kind, and forgiveness leads to healing. That kind of thinking actually turned out to be incredibly detrimental to my healing process. I felt guilty and I struggled for so long with trying to forgive my abuser for what he did to me. I thought I had to, in order to feel better, so I kept trying and failing. I couldn’t understand why my healing process had to start with forgiving him for what he did, even though he never said sorry, and never gave me any indication that he felt bad about it.
Why should a victim have to forgive their abuser in order to feel better, I’d think to myself, why do they deserve that? They don’t, is the conclusion I came to one day. They don’t deserve anything from their victims. It’s unfair and unhealthy to force victims to forgive perpetrators in order to begin healing.
And my belief in this doesn’t just apply to my personal experiences of abuse. I think there are many things that are unforgivable. Rape, murder, exploitation, slavery, assault, even things that aren’t necessarily illegal. A parent disowns their child? The child doesn’t have to forgive the parent.
My life is so much better because I realized that I don’t have to forgive people. I’m allowed to feel angry and hurt and I’m allowed to move on and live my life, no forgiveness required. I believe that you don’t have to forgive to be happy.