You don't have to forgive!
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
I recently had a little squabble with a person I lover very much and even though that person apologized after realizing they just needed to be explained, I didn't feel like I should "forgive" them and I started writing.
Sure I consider that I have to act with as much empathy and compassion I can possibly manage, I should always act reasonably and not let myself be lead by my emotions and biases. We should accept that people are fallible and they have the right to offend... if you know what I am referring to you probably are familiar with the seven tenets of the Satanic Temple. If you have read me before you know I am a Satanist and I live by the 7 (see here).
Do I have to forgive to act in the most satanic way and in accordance with my deeply held beliefs?
Well, I don't think so.
I certainly think the most sensible and reasonable way of life is to live with benevolence, humility, patience and authenticity.
You should always be true to yourself, to your feelings, beliefs and your best understanding of the world.
I would obviously not tell you to go after someone or some institution and seek revenge on them... This is probably going to be detrimental to you more than it will be to them. I still think you should express your discomfort, hurt, distress or otherwise identified negative feelings.
Communication is key to establishing boundaries and making sure the situation of discomfort doesn't happen or repeat itself. I think if the prevention work has been done and someone knows/ has been told before that something bothers you, if that person is reasonable and well intentioned they will try to not hurt you. If they do not respect your boundaries, this is where I draw the line.
Not knowing isn't an excuse to skip the apology part when you are explained that you made someone uncomfortable. If you present your apologies you shouldn't expect the person you upset to instantly forgive you though.
weather you meant to or not, that person is upset and need to heal from the hurt you caused. Healing for them might take longer than whatever amount of time it takes you.
I hate that entitlement to forgiveness some people have. It is very coercive and I think it is sometimes even abusive. You gotta give your boyfriend a pass because he was drunk, you gotta forgive the kid because he s just a boy, you gotta forgive the neighbor because she is pregnant, gotta not pay attention for the problematic things Gran says because she's from another generation...
You know what? No I don't!
Instead of saying sorry, why don't you make sure not to be sorry... Do I not deserve the bare minimum respect of you thinking before you speak? Is a little bit of consideration and reflection before you act or "open it" too much to ask for? If no one has told you that, let me be the one to teach you!
I kinda feel like it is a very Christian thing to do, asking for forgiveness, it pairs awfully well with catholic guilt, the fear of burning in hell or not being welcomed in heaven...
Well I'm in no position to grant you absolution... I don't believe in Heaven or Hell and what matters to me is the here and now and whatever lifetime I have left in this world.
There's no x number of "Ave Maria" and you can go on with your life and sin again until next time you come confess your sins and get absolution over a stupid prayer on your knees to be forgiven.
I don't feel like forgiveness is necessary to go forward. It would probably make you feel better I am sure but as much as I don't want to hurt you, I'd rather you *be* better than feel better.
Right now I am hurt, you caused the hurt. You broke my trust, you disappointed me, I feel bad because I miscalculated, maybe I feel mislead...
I think before or instead of forgiving you I should communicate how you pushed my boundaries and hurt me, explain what I expected, maybe remind you what we agreed on and our trust can be rebuilt and our relationship grow from this.
Don't expect forgiveness, accept or offer to discuss (that means listening too, not just talking) what to do or say in the future instead and maybe ask if there is something you can do to resolve any harm that have been caused if you really care. And for F*ck sake, don't keep on making the same "mistake" over and over again or make jokes about it all the time or you apologies are obviously going to be null and void for being disingenuous.
Because you say sorry, I shouldn't instantly forget about it and move on. You might have forgiven yourself, and that is great! If you truly realized your mistake, analyzed why you made the mistake and now know you were wrong and forgave yourself for "being only human and making a mistake"... Cool! It might take the other person time to realize what happened, heal, trust that you actually understood your mistake and be reassured that it won't happen again. You can't expect forgiveness to happen upon a "sorry" and you can't expect people to deal with the pain the same way you do or someone else does. We all have our past trauma, standard of trust and unique ways of dealing with things. For most of us a simple apology ain't gonna cut it to be able to move on or go back to where you were before the "mistake".
Imagine relationships are road or bridges and the cars going over them are people. Many people use the same road and drive differently. You and the person who hurt you drive on the same road.
When someone ask for forgiveness it's usually after there was a car accident between you two.
Your ears are still ringing. You are shaking. Maybe you will shout at at each other out of shock, even if it's to later regret it.
You might need some professional attention and help to get better after the crash.
What you see as damage on your car or on your body might only be the surface and their might be some deeper issues.
The road is damaged maybe seemingly unusable.
Some pre-existing damage might have been there before, invisible to both drivers or some maybe only be known to one party in the accident.
One might have an insurance and a way to cope with the damage. For some others it's their whole world falling apart, their whole life revolved around their now damaged car or the unusable road they thought they were going to be on their whole journey.
We have to heal, deal with our loss and the changes that accident brought to our life.
The detours we now have to take to get to the same place my be considerable. Some might even want to go off the road and never take it again. They might just not want to go where they were heading, change scenery and avoid other drivers...
Also, whenever I am hurt by someone I am close to, I have to work on forgiving myself for being "fooled" already...and that is really hard work!
Why did this hurt me so much? Did I have the right car? What was I doing on that road? Could I take this road again? Can I even drive again? Did the other person get hurt too?
In this case the other person caused the accident, how are they acting towards me after the fact? If they are expecting me to forgive them, not trying to reflect on their actions and simply expecting forgiveness because shit happens... I am simply not going to try to forgive them. I am going to tell them what I observed, what happened and how shitty it was and leave that road. That might be pride but I expect an apology or somewhat of a mea culpa before I can even think about going forward with that person, and take that road again... let alone provide them with any instance of forgiveness.
In the case where I caused the accident, someone else's forgiveness isn't gonna cut it. They aren't always in a position to enable my healing or make it impossible. I kinda hate that asking for or giving forgiveness is a key element of most recovery program, loss management etc.
I have to realize and accept that this happened. Once I accept it I have to determine if I don't want it to happen again or if I am ok with it maybe happening again...
Do I forgive the person who upset me or do I tell them to kick rocks?
If I am the one who should be apologizing, do I really want look for forgiveness or is the person that I upset demanding for an apology I don't think I owe them? what if it was a difference of opinion or I was right and had no intention to hurt?
let's give you an example:
My family member is upset that I have a certain opinion they don't share, they get upset that I won't back down, they expect an apology from me for having a different opinion instead of trying to discuss our differences and accepting that we can have different views and still respect each other right to see things differently.
What's there to forgive*me*? Do they need to forgive themselves for getting offended?
My coworker and I have a disagreement. None of us is rieght ot wrong it's a divergence of view on the matter/way to handle things/personal preference. Weather or not one of us apologizes isn't going to change the fact that we will have to move past that and work together.
Disagreeing with strangers, being hurt by something they say or think about me... Who the hell cares, nothing they do will impact my life in any meaningful way. They don't hold me by the balls, my job, my shelter...sure it hurts but I don't need to forgive them, I don't even have to care!
I think forgiveness is different for everyone and for every situation and that expecting forgiveness or apologies is a lack of empathy and entitlement .. and in the end, is not even necessary. Forgive if you want, ask for it if you feel like you need to, don't expect it don't think you have to forgive...you don't owe anyone apologies or forgiveness for being you, standing up for yourself, not wishing to go any further in a relationship or hurting! Maybe what you really need is to let go?