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#157292 - 05/21/07 11:42 AM Forgiving but not forgetting
Chain Breaker Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/21/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
I think we hear the phrase, "forgive and forget" so often that we don't realize that forgiveness does not require forgetting. I can give a more in-depth explanation, but, for the moment, suffice it to say that forgiveness means giving up one's emotional burden associated with a past wrong -- choosing not to seek an accounting. It is, in one sense, very irrational, but it is also very rational. I believe that we don't have to forget what someone else did to us or say we condone it or that it did not matter. In our cases, what was done to us was not our fault, we must never condone it, and we must never say it didn't matter. It mattered a great deal in our lives, and it always will. But I think we can give up the pain by seeking understanding, by accepting the fact that we can never change what happened to us, and by choosing not to let it control our future decisions or our future happiness.

I do not, believe, however, that we should ever forget. We need to remember so that we can know where we have been and protect other children from suffering the same crimes and horrors we knew in our past. We need to remember it so that we can learn of our own resilience and what we have come back from. We also need to keep in mind that forgiveness does not equal trust. Sometimes there may be a complete reconciliation. At other times, we will choose never to speak to our abuser again. At still other times, we may not have the opportunity to confront our abusers and speak our minds about what they did to us. In many cases, though, we will have the opportunity to engage with our abusers again. If this happens, there is no reason for us to trust them. They have already violated our trust. But we can let go of the pain they caused us and still avoid them if we choose to. We must never forget, but we can forgive.

_________________________
My name is Joe. I am a survivor and a good man. You can count on me.

CB

"[Insert your name here], I am [Chain Breaker]. Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?"
--Wind In His Hair, Dances With Wolves

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#157294 - 05/21/07 11:58 AM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: Chain Breaker]
pain4ever Offline


Registered: 04/05/01
Posts: 1032
Amen Brother!!!

Will I ever forget...hell no...but I can come to terms with it. I don't call it forgiveness but "coming to terms" with it.

_________________________
Peace and Tranquility all depends on your frame of reference.

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#157295 - 05/21/07 12:14 PM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: pain4ever]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6317
Loc: 2 NATO Nations
Well...I'd love to forget...but I know I won't. I'd love to come to terms with it...and I'm really trying for that.

But to forgive? I won't, I can't and I will not even try until they come to me begging for my forgiveness.

_________________________
Jesus Loves The Hell Outta Me!

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#157296 - 05/21/07 12:28 PM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: Still]
Lantern Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 55
Loc: UK
I kind of have the problem of remembering a lot in the first place!

But yeah I think the forgiving / forgetting idea you have is absolutely right, what my therapist said about the goal of our work is accurate: To assimilate what happened into what my experience of what life is, and proceed from there. It's just all dissociated at the moment, when I'm able to actually deal with it I can move on to forgiveness at some point (if possible), but no we should never forget because if we try to do that then that means it still has a hold on us.

_________________________
It's not what you've lost, but it's what you've found

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#157299 - 05/21/07 01:11 PM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: Lantern]
Chain Breaker Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/21/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
Rob, I appreciate your position, especially given the violence you went through. I think that forgiveness is an emotion-laden word for most of us. That's why I wrote this. Most people in our positions also feel that they can and will never forgive their perpetrators. But that's because our society has taken the concept of forgiveness a step beyond the meaning of the word. It does not mean wiping the slate clean for the perpetrator(s). It just means letting go, giving away the worst of the pain. This takes our abusers' power over us away from them. Forgiving is not for them . . . it's for us.

BTW, I think "coming to terms" is really synonymous with forgiving.

One of the worst things we can do, though, is forgive without first having faced our emotions, acknowledged them, and given them voice. Their voice is really the voice of the little boy we were. He's angry, and rightfully so. He's also frightened and feels untrusting and worthless. But it is up to our adult selves to befriend, earn the trust of, and heal that child within. I believe that part of this process is making sure that little boy feels safe. You must keep validating the idea that what was done to him was very wrong, but at some point, we need to convince him that he is safe now -- that we can move on together, giving up the hatred and the rage . . . but not the memory or the lessons learned. That's all I'm trying to say.

Peace
Joe

_________________________
My name is Joe. I am a survivor and a good man. You can count on me.

CB

"[Insert your name here], I am [Chain Breaker]. Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?"
--Wind In His Hair, Dances With Wolves

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#157303 - 05/21/07 01:35 PM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: Chain Breaker]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6317
Loc: 2 NATO Nations
oh...my def of "coming to terms" is SO much different. In this mode, I guess I am forgiving ME in order to "come to terms."

I have to accept my role in all of it, the why's and how's...the blame...the self-loathing. That's MY "coming to terms."

_________________________
Jesus Loves The Hell Outta Me!

Still's Globs

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#157304 - 05/21/07 01:44 PM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: Still]
Chain Breaker Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/21/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
Oh, I see what you mean. That's so tough, isn't it! It's important, though. We can hear other people repeat ad nauseum that we were not to blame, but that won't make us believe it. I think we have to see it for yourselves. But what I see when I look at you is a strong man getting stronger and learning to parent his inner child, and an inner child who is so precious, so innocent, and so badly injured. Obviously, you will need to choose your own path to healing, but I would like to add something if I might: You have done nothing that requires forgiveness. You were innocent the whole time. Hard to believe, I know, but still true.

_________________________
My name is Joe. I am a survivor and a good man. You can count on me.

CB

"[Insert your name here], I am [Chain Breaker]. Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?"
--Wind In His Hair, Dances With Wolves

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#157307 - 05/21/07 01:51 PM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: Still]
FormerTexan Offline
Site Administrator
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 10961
Loc: Denver, CO
CB,

"Forgiving is not for them . . . it's for us."

I agree. I have a book called The Art of Forgiving by Lewis Smedes, a great book on forgiveness. He stresses that point in the book. Forgiveness is more for me, than it is them. He has a quote in his book regarding revenge that I love: "We would rather have the satisfaction of watching them turn and burn in hellish leisure over the rotisserie of their remorse!"

I'm going to more or less quote a friend on here when I say that forgiveness does not mean "You, perp(s), are wiped clean of all the wrongs you have done to me even though you are not sorry, and don't care."

I like the phrase "coming to terms" too. I was able to do that with someone from my past only because I got through the hurt and realizations about them. And getting through it really sucked.

_________________________
List of things ain't nobody got time for:

1. That


If I could meet myself as a boy...

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#157310 - 05/21/07 02:01 PM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: FormerTexan]
Chain Breaker Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/21/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: FormerTexan
[F]orgiveness does not mean, "You, perp(s), are wiped clean of all the wrongs you have done to me even though you are not sorry, and don't care."

I couldn't agree more. It may, however, mean, "I leave you, perp(s) to the judgment of a just God" or "I have carried the burden of your wrongs long enough, and I leave you alone with them; from today on, you have no power over me; I choose not to press charges."

_________________________
My name is Joe. I am a survivor and a good man. You can count on me.

CB

"[Insert your name here], I am [Chain Breaker]. Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?"
--Wind In His Hair, Dances With Wolves

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#157311 - 05/21/07 02:07 PM Re: Forgiving but not forgetting [Re: Chain Breaker]
pain4ever Offline


Registered: 04/05/01
Posts: 1032
Let them all burn in hell!

"BTW, I think "coming to terms" is really synonymous with forgiving."

No not really...to me...it means I accept what happenned but has nothing to do with forgiveness.

_________________________
Peace and Tranquility all depends on your frame of reference.

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