The need for forgiveness has always felt to me like an inside joke I was not in.
My whole life I listened to people talking about how forgiveness helps you heal, sets you free, makes you happy, all while feeling the same way I do when a group of friends discuss a common interest I don’t share.
The same unsettling alienation feeling you get every now and then if you’re neurodivergent. Observing behaviour you just can’t understand, but it’s so widespread it’s clear that you’re the odd one out – everyone else is doing it and completely at ease with it.
I sincerely don’t feel like forgiving will make me any happier than I am. The thought of actively making an effort to forgive, say, my parents for the ways they’ve failed me causes me to experience that unpleasant tickling inside my chest that is how I feel negative gut feelings. Not really in the gut, a bit above. A tightening and tickling, as if something from inside was pushing against whatever situation I’m being put in.
I can’t help feeling like I’m failing to stand up for myself, as I’ve done so many times in my life. Like I’m letting 10yo me down, siding with the people that hurt her, trying to understand their perspective, perhaps they had their reasons to do what they did, perhaps there are excuses that make it ok, maybe she’s just making a big deal out of nothing and she should look at her own flaws and mistakes, did she actually do something that prompted that treatment? Don’t we all make mistakes? Didn’t she do a series of awful things in her life? Who is she to judge?
I can’t do that to her. And I don’t need to forgive to live a happy life. I can move on, put distance, build my family of choice and my life as I want it and I don’t need to give anyone forgiveness to do any of these things.
I will heal by choosing myself over the ones who hurt me, forgiving myself instead of others, understanding my feelings and traumas rather than someone else’s.
“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” often helps those who have wronged you deflect from their behaviour. I like to think it wasn’t intended to, but it can be used that way.
Don’t feel like a bad person if you can’t forgive. Perhaps you need your understanding and mercy more than the ones who hurt you do.