The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why Heal and Forgive?

For decades, I heard from friends, relatives, therapists, and fellow Christians, that I needed to forgive my abusers in order to heal. This advice - and the attempts I made to forgive before I'd learned to exercise personal boundaries - left me open to further injury and damaged me deeply.

When I finally mustered the courage to buck societal expectations; not to forgive; and to put my own healing and well-being first, I achieved a level of healing that I never thought was possible. My period of NOT forgiving created the space necessary to achieve the greatest emotional growth of my life. Wow!

The unintentional by-product of this healing, was - ironically - forgiveness.

At that time, I realized that the old adage, "Forgive and Heal," was backwards. For me, it was "Heal and Forgive!"

If I only knew then that adequate healing had to come first, it would have saved me a great deal of time and pain. So, now I shout it from the roof tops, "Heal first, THEN Forgive!"


Anonymous said...

Great post! The difficulty with forgiving someone is so hard, but there seems to be peace. I really enjoy your insight on this. I’d love to read more on this topic.

I recently stumbled upon another blog like I stumbled upon yours and I really appreciated their insihgt. I thought you might enjoy it:

I’d love to see more like it. Thanks!

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Thank you for stopping by, and for your input!

Andrew said...

Thanks for great post! Forgiveness does not come easy for most of us. Our natural instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we've been injured. We don't naturally overflow with mercy, grace and forgiveness when we've been wronged.

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Very true Andrew!

Donna said...

So true, without compassion our personal being is incomplete.

Compassion is part of our personality..
as time heal all wounds that is the time compassion shows.
great post!!

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Thank you Donna!

Anonymous said...

I also struggled with forgiveness for a long time. My anger, feelings of betrayal and why me ego driven hurt delayed my acceptance and forgiveness.

I used meditation or mundfulness to help work on this issue. After much sitting and observing I came to the point in which I accepted and forgave my father. It was more that he had his own issues and a narcissist, maybe he did the best he could do. Then if I was going to be happy or get my life back, then I needed to let him go.

When finally I let him own behavior and answer for it,then I realized my life needed my attention it all faded. So now I answer for me and I direct all my attention to now without desire and opportunity appears everywhere.

PTSD is a cloud hiding the real us.


AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Hi Marty,

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your helpful input!

I like what you said. Similarly, it took a long time for me to simply see my mother as a person with great limitations. I stopped focusing on her, and spent the time to heal me!

I agree, when we focus on ourselves, all kinds of opportunities arise!

Thanks again!

Wellbeing said...

It is not easy to forgive particularly childhood abuse in whatever form it manifested and the longer term effects created such as difficulties with basic trust.
When a more whole understanding is enabled and causative factors such as ignorance and the abuser's personal and developmental issues are considered, a more complete and mature realisation of why this happened is possible. Gradually, with increasing acceptance, healing and forgiveness can occur.

A child has limited understanding of negative situations and holds on to emotional pain into adulthood. We need to find ways to console and reassure 'the inner child' still frightened, to heal the emotional hurts and wounds caused by ignorance, lack of care and nurture

We need to learn self care, nurture
and love and respect for self to be able to heal the emotional pain of past negative life experience. Forgiveness maybe possible when self healing through self love and understanding has been enabled.

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Well Said!

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across your blog at what is a very appropriate time. My journey (of spiritual abuse, not parental/childhood/sexual) has been detoured for a long time because the importance of forgiveness was subtly inbuilt into the system. It took a while for me to realize that - not only was I unable to do this - but the added burden of (in my eyes) failing in a task that was 'necessary' for my spiritual growth caused immense additional suffering.

It was only when I threw out all ideas of forgiveness - and allowed the more real rage, bitterness, resentment and even desire for vengeance to arise - that I began to realize just how much I've needed to go through that.

I do wonder now how much is repressed in the name of healing, especially in new age/spiritual and Christian communities, where certain unpleasant feelings might be considered blasphemous.

Thank you for your work, I'm glad I discovered it!

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Hi Anonymous!

Thank you for sharing your experience. I always enjoy hearing from people who have had a similar experience.

I have been in contact with many people who have felt pressured to forgive. Until I began receiving feed back from my first book, I had no idea that my experience was quite common - especially as you say - in the "new age/spiritual and Christian communities."

All by best,

Julie said...

Yes that's true. forgiving an enemy is so hard to do but we should love our enemies. Very great post.

Unknown said...

Hi Nancy,great work you doing here.God Bless You Real Good.
Am Daniel and i got a girl i love so much but the problem is she's been cut off from her family,her mum left her and her brother when they were kids until a family friend adopted them.Two years ago she was sent packing out of the house because firstly she protested against her uncle who sexually abuses her and her adopted father testified against her still,she was alone and had thought of suicide so many times.
Secondly,she was also hated as a 18yrs old who in deperate search for love and care became so cheap sleepin around and sharing nude pictures of herself. All she wantd was to be loved. It's been 2yrs now and she's been trying to reconcile with them and her biological mum too but they don't seem to ever wanna set eyes on her again.
As her boyfriend who lives in another country,i'm positive i could talk to her mum and aunt to allow for reconcilation and accept her back cos my girl is being destroyed as we speak.
Pls Nancy, how do i go about this?

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Dear Daniel,

Kudos to you for your concern. My heart goes out to your girlfriend; I understand the pain of abuse and estrangement. All too often the victim is blamed.

Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who has been able to "convince" family members to see someone from whom they are estranged.

Sometimes, in time an estranged family member will become open to reconciliation, but they have to come to it themselves. All one can do is to let their family members know that they desire reconciliation when and if the other party is willing.

In the meantime, I think it is imperative that your girlfriend find adequate support. Therapy is invaluable for survivors of abuse and estrangement to navigate recovery. If your girlfriend cannot afford therapy, she could contact the local University to see if they know of free or low cost therapy in the area.

There are also support groups she could join to help. You can find some starting points on the front page of my blog.

I'm sorry I can't give you any magic words. Unfortunately, estrangement is a large, complicated and painful experience with no easy answers.

All my best to you and your girlfriend,

Jay D Roberts, MD said...

Great post! Forgiveness may be difficult, but we must forgive in order to be set free!
-Jay D Roberts, MD

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your story. It looks very interesting.

My best,