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No, I Don't Need to Forgive You to Heal From My Trauma

When I was younger, I would always hear my elders telling me something along the lines of, “forgive so-and-so for you.” And, “If you don’t forgive, you can’t move on.” Whenever I was upset about someone doing me wrong, I was pushed to forgive them and get over it. It always confused me because the entire concept of forgiveness as described to me seemed to benefit other people rather than benefit me.

Why would my healing or my ability to move on and grow from a situation be contingent on whether or not I forgive someone? Why does my choice to not forgive someone automatically mean I’m holding a grudge or not moving on?

I endured years of being gaslit and manipulated into forgiving people for the harm they caused, expecting it to suddenly make me feel better before I realized forgiving someone wouldn’t suddenly lift the cover off my trauma and allow me to step into my healing. No matter how much I’d attempted to convince myself I’d forgiven someone and I was ready to move on, I’d be knocked on my ass with the anger, the pain, and sadness that had never been addressed.

Growing up under “forgiveness culture” led to me finding healing and power in protecting my forgiveness. Forgiving others for the harm they’ve done, especially without true accountability and change on their end, does nothing to promote my growth and healing, but refusing to forgive people who don’t deserve it and continue to grow on my own is empowering.

Forgiving someone doesn’t erase the hurt, it doesn’t change what they’ve said or done, and I don’t believe it is the key to moving on. Centering healing around forgiving other people felt like I was involving others in it as if I needed them to move on. I didn’t.

I can continue to live my life perfectly fine without forgiving people I deem undeserving. This doesn’t require a grudge or any bitter feelings. Most of the time, I don’t even think about that person anymore. This also means if/when I do forgive someone, it is 100% with my feelings and health in mind. My forgiveness is rare and a gift. Treating it as something I cherish is the most healing thing.

I no longer feel weighed down by guilt, hindering my own progress because I’m stuck struggling to forgive the unforgivable.

I took the power back into my own hands.

Getty image by gilaxia