Forgiveness: The Other F-Word

You can probably tell by the title

that I’m not an advocate of forgiving ruthless predators who victimize without remorse and who will keep doing so. If you have chosen to forgive and it helps you heal, that’s great. This blog post is for those of you who feel you must forgive the perpetrator, but are having trouble doing so. It’s also for those who choose not to forgive and are taking flak for it.

There are many paths to healing and moving on other than forgiveness. I’ve done it myself, so I know it’s possible. Even so, tremendous pressure is placed on victims to grant forgiveness:

“Religious, psychological and societal values endorse the virtue of forgiveness. Victims are confronted with the pressure to forgive those who caused them pain. They are told that forgiveness is an essential ingredient for the healing process. There’s a widespread assumption that without forgiveness, victims will never move past their trauma or achieve self-empowered freedom that conquers their sense of victimization.

When it comes to the need for victims to forgive, two questions need to be asked:

First, do victims really need to forgive to overcome their ordeals?

Second, is it fair to expect victims to forgive and exonerate their perpetrators?

While we may all agree that a continued and permanent state of bitterness about the past is never a healthy mode of existence, it’s fair to question whether forgiveness is the key to escaping a state of negativity or whether acceptance — without forgiveness — is enough to move beyond suffering towards peace and achieving resolution.

When victims succumb to the pressure to forgive, they may feel that they’re being victimized once again because in a way, forgiveness can negate the agony they endured and their right to be angry. In fact, there are times when anger is a healthy response. Acquiescence is never an appropriate response when your trust and dignity has been violated. When someone humiliates and hurts you, anger serves as a protective mechanism because it signals that something is wrong. Anger tells you that this type of behavior is unacceptable because it’s damaging to your self-worth. The absence of anger in a scenario like this leaves you vulnerable to abuse.”

— Psychiatrist Mark Banschick, “Unforgivable Hurt: Eight Ways To Heal”

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You’ve probably heard the popular axiom below, which is widely accepted as true without controversy:

“Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

I believe the poison is not the refusal to forgive — the poison is the injustice a victim experienced in the first place. In fact, being pressured to forgive is yet another poison. Believing you must forgive — but feeling unable to do so — can leave you emotionally stuck and lead to a slower recovery. The idea that you have to forgive or you’re a bad person is  untrue and detrimental. Instead of moving forward in your recovery, you expend energy trying to forgive and wondering what’s wrong with you since you can’t. There’s nothing wrong with you. You can’t forgive because the perpetrator does not deserve it and because what he did was unforgivable.

Acquiescence is never an appropriate response when your trust and dignity has been violated.

Insisting that someone forgive — especially when the perpetrator has no remorse — is the perfect way to re-victimize and disempower them. It’s hard enough to heal from this without throwing an unnecessary wrench into the works.

“Whether it is the result of the way people have been programmed to believe or because they cannot fathom the depth of the pain of the victims of an aggression, it remains that remorse should be the first step.”

Do We Always Have To Forgive? Leo Michel Abrami, Institute of Logotherapy, Berkeley, CA, Logotherapy, Existential Analysis, Emeritus

I never for one moment considered forgiving the psychopath who victimized me. I couldn’t imagine why I would want to. A big part of healing for me was becoming empowered, and developing boundaries was a large part of that. One of those boundaries defined who was worthy of forgiveness: Someone who understands the harm they caused, who expresses genuine remorse, and who makes a sincere vow not to repeat the harmful actions in the future. The heartless predator who gleefully emotionally raped me certainly didn’t deserve my forgiveness.

Another boundary I developed was not allowing others to dictate what was appropriate for me to do, feel, or think. I’d had more than enough manipulation, and I was not going to be driven by guilt or fear of rejection to do something I was against just so someone would think I was a good and virtuous person.

A large part of healing is learning to acknowledge and trust our own feelings, perceptions and choices again, instead of letting others dictate to us what we ‘should’ feel and what we ‘should’ do. We’ve all had enough of that kind of manipulation. Why let it continue with the issue of forgiveness?

What is Forgiveness?

“Forgiveness is the transaction that allows for restoration. On the offender’s side there must be confession (admit to their act against you), contrition (show sorrow for what they’ve done to you) restitution (pay back what they took plus a penalty) and repentance (show solid determination to not re-offend). The person being asked for forgiveness, you, can then offer a large measure of grace if you are convinced of the sincerity of the offender’s efforts… The word “transaction” means that forgiveness can not happen unilaterally. It takes two to dance this tango.” “Forgiveness,” from Narcissists Suck

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What worth does forgiveness have

when we’re expected to give it away willy-nilly to anyone and everyone who harms us, no matter how egregiously? How is forgiveness the precious virtue it’s made out to be when it’s handed out freely, without expectations, and without the perpetrator even being aware of it and free to continue doing harm? How is forgiveness healing when it is another burden placed upon the shoulders of an already overburdened victim?

This is not real forgiveness; it’s a cheap imitation. It’s de rigueur forgiveness, the artificial forgiveness pushed by the superficial and the pseudo-spiritual, who preach that enlightenment is being above experiencing the pain, anger, and prolonged recovery that go along with serious trauma. Just forgive and move on. If you can’t, you really need to work on your issues.

Genuine forgiveness does not require the forgiver to deny their suffering and their anger at the harm and injustice they experienced. It does not require further compromise of their dignity and self-worth and the continuing negation of their humanity. Real forgiveness involves more than one person: It requires a remorseful perpetrator and the person they harmed, who has the power to grant forgiveness or not. Genuine forgiveness is empowering and it restores dignity, to both the victim and the perpetrator.

Unfortunately, the remorseless psychopath will never seek forgiveness. Luckily, we do not have to forgive in order to heal.

“As Solomon Schimmel notes, ‘to advocate forgiving all offenders and all offenses because everyone commits some offenses blurs all distinction between degrees of sin, evil, and crime.’ In short, Schimmel’s view is that the simple fact that we all at some point commit some offense(s) does not lead to the conclusion that we are all equally culpable and thus equally forgivable since there are offenses that are significantly different in their effects or intentions from others that are minor, short-lived, or generally insignificant…Further, even if in general all of us commit some offense(s) at some time, this is largely irrelevant to specific cases in which the harmed person did not commit any offense against the offender.”  Florida Philosophical Review, Volume X, Issue 1, Summer 2010, Reconciling with Harm: An Alternative to Forgiveness and Revenge, by Nancy A. Stanlick, University of Central Florida

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I’m not sure what pardoning a predator has to do with healing. How could healing be dependent on feeling goodwill toward someone who intentionally caused severe harm? On the contrary, healing depends in part on realizing the violation of our worth and dignity and humanity, and feeling the outrage that goes along with that realization. That is what will protect us in the future. The dictionary says forgiveness is “to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake,” but anger can be the energizing force that pushes you forward.

“What I abhor is a culture that places demands on victims and survivors, insisting that we are not whole until we forgive. Forgiveness culture implies that betrayers and abusers can expect to be forgiven — they can hurt and harm and rage — and should their targets decline to forgive, they can rest smug in the assurance that the refusal reflects a flaw in their victims, not in themselves.

Pseudo-spirituality has made forgiveness a marker of personal virtue. If you forgive, then you know you are enlightened. Deepak Chopra describes forgiveness as the “recognition that actions that are perceived as hurtful or wrong are the perspective of the small ego mind, not the higher self.” If you perceive an assault on yourself and your body as too wrong to forgive, you are being small-minded.

This attitude ignores that the choice not to forgive can come from a place of strength. It can represent a legitimate response to an offender’s continuing actions and place in society. The absence of forgiveness implies neither desire for revenge nor lack of enlightenment

Demanding that survivors of trauma forgive denies us agency in choosing how to heal, even though denial of agency is often a key part of trauma and its reassertion is essential to moving forward.

Coerced forgiveness — a forgiveness granted because it is believed to be the only virtuous or healthy thing to do — breeds resentment. Coerced forgiveness merely paves over rage or the desire for vengeance.” Why I Reject Forgiveness Culture By Elizabeth Switaj

 “I’ve spent a whole lot of years trying to forgive certain people for abusing me in extreme ways, violent ways, and feeling like there was something wrong with ME because I couldn’t forgive them. So after having been brutally traumatized, I was then further traumatized by those who were supposed to help me heal, who told me that I needed to forgive to heal; and further traumatized by listening to them and brow-beating myself for my inability to forgive.

I don’t need to forgive them. Furthermore, to do so would be the worst kind of betrayal of myself. I realized that I didn’t care what type of ‘expert’ someone was, if they thought forgiveness was necessary for healing then they were not worth listening to. From there I started to actually heal. No, I don’t sit around and stew about the horrors I experienced all those years ago, but once I dropped the idea of forgiving the unforgivable, I actually began to heal. I’m guessing that has a lot to do with the self-respect that came with my refusal to forgive what was done to me.”  unknown

Acceptance was what finally dissolved the anger and resentment I felt. Acceptance was necessary to move on; I needed to acknowledge and come to terms with the reality that what the perpetrator had done was so wrong it was unforgivable.

LOTUS DIVIDER

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121 thoughts on “Forgiveness: The Other F-Word”

  1. merijoe

    If forgiveness was all it takes we wouldn’t need jails or the death penalty. “we all forgive you, for raping and murdering that 2 year old, you’re free to go”.

    I will forgive if asked and not before…it’s truly a sin to be told that you cannot heal without forgiving the person who victimized you.
    If you (or I) find that life just cant seem to move on or there is constant ruminating on the issue after a while, then perhaps its time to seek professional help-but its not because you haven’t forgave the person, they HURT you, they TRAUMATIZED you…forgiving them isn’t going to change that fact… facts are facts, like Im learning in my forensic science class, evidence has no opinion, it doesn’t change, its real.
    Here’s my saying, forgiving a person who doesn’t give a damn is like picking up a bag of crap, labeling it chocolate pie then sitting it in your fridge…it’s still a bag of crap and labeling it chocolate pie isn’t going to make it chocolate pie.

    1. Admin

      Facts are facts. Denying them doesn’t change them. Crap is not chocolate pie, and one day you’ll have to deal with that funny smell in the fridge. You can try to do that by covering it with whipped cream, but it will still make you sick.

  2. laura

    I grew up with toxic parents.Society pressured me to forgive.One orphan told me about what it’s like to have no parents at all,so i should be grateful.One financially poor woman told me in detail about what it’s like to have no money,so i should feel lucky because “nothing is missing in my life and i have everything i want”.Really? What about my traumatic memories that will stay with me forever? What about the fact that i get triggered everytime i walk on the street and see happy families? Those who push forgiveness down my throat first have to swap places with me,to live with abusers all their life.

    1. Admin

      Grateful, huh? The pressure to forgive is greatest when the abuser is family. But no one has the right to abuse us, and we don’t have to forgive just because they’re related. The Debt

      1. laura

        I perceive those who pressure me to forgive as abusers too.What hurts me more is that,at first glance,their arguments seem very real and logic.It felt to me like they were right.I’m an empath,so i immediately put myself in their shoes.I imagined myself poor and orphan,having nothing to eat and not affording to buy what i want.For many survivors,such arguments are extremely confusing as they can’t be contradicted.Some abusers shower you with money,but they destroy you emotionally.

        1. Admin

          It is actually very abusive to pressure a victim to forgive the perpetrator who seriously harmed them. In fact, it’s sick. Someone is dealing with something that feels overwhelming and insurmountable, and then someone ‘well meaning’ dumps something impossible on them, too, and tells them they must do it to prove they’re a good or evolved person. WTF?! and then they’re told, ‘it’s not for them, it’s for you.” It sure is; it’s more chocolate pie for the victim.

  3. Nearlybel

    I love it, bag of crap, chocolate pie, and cream to boot! So true.
    When dealing with psychos, only facts, only written down in black and white will work with them.
    I read the reconciling with harm article and at that time just to acknowledge the trauma inflicted, helped me, as time passed I accepted and embraced it. And the trauma became part of who I am.
    I will NEVER forgive him.
    Because Human is so right, forgiveness enables them. And if they are enabled, we are surely disabled.
    For long enough he, disarmed, disabled and very very nearly destroyed me.
    That is their modus operandi.
    Who can forgive that? Their deliberate intent to destroy a person.
    That’s only denial.
    Fight fight fight! Shine a light and expose them, wherever and whenever possible.
    Save the forgiving for ourselves, and those worthy of forgiveness.

    1. Admin

      I agree, Nearlybel, forgiveness is for those worthy and deserving of it. I’m always amazed when I hear of a victim of a violent crime or the family member of a murder victim who declares they have forgiven the perpetrator shortly after the crime. It makes me think of how they’re still in too much shock to even comprehend what happened. What is this mad rush to dispense forgiveness and absolve people of their crimes when they aren’t even sorry and have done something so brutal, with deliberate intent?

  4. The Plummer

    IMHO, I do believe forgiveness is necessary for healing. However, as an earlier commenter stated that no one deserves to even know that you have forgiven them if they do not acknowledge their transgressions toward you and actually ask for your forgiveness.

    One must also understand that there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Once you have forgiven a predator in your heart you MUST still maintain healthy boundries with that predator (usually absolute no contact is the only real boundary that is effective in preventing further potential harm) to continue to maintain a heart of forgiveness.

    This is exactly where I’m at. I’ve forgiven her, too many times to even recall. I don’t hate her for anything that has happened in the past, except for one thing. I hate her for her constant and continuing actions and attempts to make me hate her. It’s almost as if she needs to know that I do hate her and she will stop at nothing to make that so. It’s truly sick and it appears that not even MY lawyer can comprehend that her actions are geared toward this motive.

    So for me, it is true that forgiving your enemies is like heaping hot coals upon their head, which in sense is sort of a “revenge”, and one that (in conjunction with continued no contact) has no counter on her part. The problem that I haven’t figured out yet, is too be able to protect myself from her continued ability to use my children, the courts, and child support enforcement as her proxy weapons of choice, to continue her relentless attacks upon my ability to forgive (without reconciliation).

    I hope this comment is not too confusingly written, as this is the most complicated concept to understand, especially for those whom have never been targeted by a predator.

    1. Admin

      It’s necessary for you, perhaps, but it’s not truly a prerequisite for healing. It’s a matter of personal values and boundaries. But can you forgive someone out of revenge? Really? Even if you pretended to, it would just make her try harder to get you to hate her, which means ever-worsening behavior. Maybe some (very appropriate and justified) anger would help you protect yourself, if directed to that service. We all know what an abuser does when you forgive them — they abuse you some more.

      I hope you’ll find a way to stop her abuse via your children and the courts. Best wishes to you.

      1. The Plummer

        Thank you for your kind wishes. I have six more years of being subjected to the potential for abuse.

        At this point, all I can hope for is that my children can someday see it for what it is, and choose not to believe her lies and manipulation, that we can fully develop a loving relationship, without all the alienation.

        1. The Plummer

          BTW, my use of “revenge” within the context earlier, is not an “intentional” revenge, I must refer to the bible to explain. “Forgiving your enemies, is like heaping hot coals upon their heads”, it’s self inflicted revenge.

          1. Admin

            Ah, I see. I hope it works!

        2. Admin

          I hope so too, Plummer.

      2. Admin

        It is a catch-22. They’re so unbelievably twisted that they make us look like the crazy ones. That’s how they stay hidden and unknown.

    2. Annette

      I perceive that people don’t define ‘forgiveness’ the same way. One definition is relinquishing the right to extract revenge. Some take it to mean letting go, and in this context it is helpful to the victim in recovery. The psychopath would love it if his victims spend all their time stewing about him and suffering forever due to his abuse. In that respect, full recovery and a happy well lived life is the ‘best revenge.’

      1. Admin

        I agree, living well is the best ‘revenge.’

  5. laura

    On another blog,i encountered a strange situation.A toxic parent wrote saying that she was sorry and admitted that she harmed her child.That cruel narc was showered with empathy from the blog author and the whole community of survivors of traumatic childhood.Tons of advice was given to AN ABUSER regarding how to reconciliate with the child.Nobody stopped to think that maybe it was a lie and a fake apology.When i signaled the problem,i was kicked out of the blog,while the abuser was believed to be sincere.What do you think? Was it true repentance when the abuser asked for forgiveness or was she just searching for attention and new victims? Personally,i think that abusers never change.She was probably laughing cruelly,thinking that she fooled survivors again.How could the author be so blind and not see what’s obvious,which was another sadistic manipulation tactic?

    1. Admin

      Sometimes it can be hard to discern the truth in a forum, at least for a while, and maybe they felt the stakes were low and wanted to give this person the benefit of the doubt.
      But this person didn’t need the forgiveness of strangers online; if they were truly remorseful, they would need and seek forgiveness from those whose forgiveness counts — their victims. It does seem like an attention-grabbing ploy, one meant to re-victimize. That’s not uncommon, and it can be very traumatic. Banning you from the blog from expressing your thoughts was awful and without regard for your well being. I’m sorry that happened to you. Many of us were traumatized in forums, when we were at our most vulnerable.

      FOX IN THE HEN HOUSE

      1. laura

        The problem is that i was traumatised by people who went through THE SAME hell as i did,and even worse.So i can’t excuse them for not knowing what it’s like.I’ll never understand victims who attack other victims.It’s an absurd paradox.I felt like they were speaking softly to my own abusers and siding with them.Now the survivors there are given validation and emotional support,while i’m left on the outside looking in.And all this for signaling a problem,for preventing the members there to fall into a trap.For goodness sake,we share the same tears.

        1. Admin

          I agree, victims who attack other victims are in a special class. I was also attacked and banned by other so-called victims on a forum. You think you’re in a safe place with others who understand, so it’s especially shocking and hurtful. Laura, this happens all too often and it makes me wonder who they really are. They might not be what they say they are. You might notice it followed the same pattern: idealize – devalue – discard. They give you a warm welcome, you see others being treated kindly, they treat you kindly… and then it happens. I was really traumatized, just at the time I was most vulnerable and reaching out for support. I find it hard to believe the people who do this are victims, and not predators in disguise.

  6. Nearlybel

    I was on a site as I was interested in parental alienation syndrome. During our custody and access case psycho accused me of this, at the time I hadn’t a clue what he was speaking about, never heard of the term. Before any court cases but after I learnt that he was an abuser, I was seeking solutions, whatever I suggested, he would say opposite, mirroring my ideas, twisting them and using it for his benefit ( how brainwashed I was)
    He accused me of poisoning the children against him, I aghast asked how, ‘by telling them stories’ was his reply, I said ‘do you not think they can see for themselves?’ He replied ‘NO’
    He used spend hours telling them stories at bedtime. I would be heading to bed and he’d be there, children either climbing the walls or fast asleep. It sends shivers up my spine thinking about it with the knowledge I now have. But I digress
    Some of the posts and replies just didn’t feel right, many discrepancies in them, and some looked like psychospeak, and when I posted, I would give my opinion and would nearly always be threatened with exclusion. Interestingly enough, the site ( England) was of males posting, looking for access, blaming all around and accusing their ex partners of parental alienation. When as much as I have read in the US it is the psycho fathers that get custody through parental alienation from non pathological mothers with the assistance of the court appointed GLs. Abuse by proxy, all sanctioned by individuals within the family court system.
    Those poor children and mothers. And yes Plummer I do acknowledge the abuse you and your children suffer. They deliberately destroy all that is good in life to feed their hunger.
    How or why would anyone feel they have to forgive that?

    1. Admin

      Sorry you had that happen when you went in search of support, Nearlybel. Discrepancies, even when very subtle, just don’t feel right. That can be the giveaway.

      “How or why would anyone feel they have to forgive that?” It makes no sense. Really, if you think about it in a rational, logical way — emotion and pressure aside — forgiving someone who purposely and seriously harms, without remorse, is nonsensical. It’s not forgiveness; in fact, it needs its own term. Perhaps this would be more fitting: “one last act of self-deprecating denial of needs, emotions and self worth” Or maybe “an act perpetuating the abuse and trauma without the perpetrator’s assistance or knowledge.” Or “an act of willingly, voluntarily, peacefully and generously rolling over and submitting to abuse that this time we perpetrate against ourselves.” Or maybe just keep it simple: “Self-betrayal.”

  7. Gillian

    I will never forgive the torture that was my lot as a very badly abused child. Never. I will never forgive either of my parents for what they did to me and my siblings.

    Neither, will I forgive the man who walked out on my kids and me whilst I was sick, and then took me to court to try to get the kids off me (he failed). I will not forgive him and his horrid sister ‘get a job’ whilst I had no money and having treatment for breast cancer.

    My anger has kept me alive, kept me pushing through, when hell was visited upon me by other people.

    No forgiveness here.

    1. Admin

      NOT forgiving is actually healing. When something is unforgivable because of the harm it caused, forgiveness is unnatural and our survival instincts fight against it. That’s because it puts us at risk for more harm. Not forgiving, on the other hand, is authentic and natural. Being authentic and natural is healing, because we could not be those things with an abuser but now we can reclaim them.

      I’m terribly sorry to hear of your abuse, Gillian, but glad to hear your anger has kept you alive. That’s what it’s for. I wish you all the best!

  8. Shani

    Admin you can not emphisize this concept enough. Yes discuss it over and over from all angles, as you are outstanding with doing so.

    Forgiving a psychopath, bully or frontal lobeless demon is only to victimise yourself senselessly a few more times. If we can not fully comprehend the essence of such a high executive value as forgiving, what do we expect a psychopath to do with our submissiveness? Those creatures have no, but zero human forethought, so what is the use of forgiving?

    Is there one victim that can claim a psycho was ever truly sorry and changed behaviour? What then, needs to be forgiven? They feast purely on the tangible they see when their prey act the ’emotional forgiving drama’. You just explained to the spycho in a foreign language, that he/she achieved CUMLAUDE on the demolishing strategy inflicted on you.

    It is derailing yourself to think they are remorseful while giving you the ultra common sheepish grin, pretending to listen to you?
    Surprise ….
    For the psycho you only open your soul to be hacked out what is left of it.
    The next attach is already in process and will hit you from behind while you embrace your heavenly self imposed ‘feeling good endorphins’.

    Why not hang on to the sceintific proofs of what psychopaths are. Understanding highly emotional and moral values and skills are distant for logic evaluation during the best of times. Why not keep to sceintific facts?

    Why not save our energy, thinking and focus on forgiving ourselves.
    Till the day we forget the ordeal… … …
    And that, will hardly be in this lifetime… … …

    1. Admin

      Thanks, shani.
      You made excellent points, and said them as ONLY you can! :-)

      “What then, needs to be forgiven?” This is the million-dollar question. They’re not sorry, they’re not asking for forgiveness, they would victimize you all over again given the chance, and they will definitely do so to someone else. Why would there be a need to forgive the harm they caused in order to heal from it? If you’ve forgiven it, then it seems there’s nothing left to heal from. It’s an instant healing… except that it’s not.

      1. Shani

        For sure, a psycho is oblivious to the consequences of his/her actions, not so. But, constantly demands ‘their prey’ to be sorry for being so, as the psycho experience it, pathetically human! If I forgive the psycho for that (?), I agree the psycho has a valid point and my argument is nullified. Then why feel trampled and therefor the desperate need to heal in the first place?

        Yes, you are right Admin and everybody understanding the drift. Why is the healing after forgiving not instant? As there is no wrong left. Because, out of free will, you actually solely reconciled or pacified and surrendered yourself to the ruthless mercy of the scam artist. Let’s get real to the facts, how hard it may sound.

        How I wish for a better world, that forgiving could result in complete instant healing!

        1. Admin

          True — they would find our forgiveness of them for thinking of us as pathetically human proof they were right.

          “Why is the healing after forgiving not instant? As there is no wrong left. Because, out of free will, you actually solely reconciled or pacified and surrendered yourself to the ruthless mercy of the scam artist.”

          The forgiveness actually negates itself!

          I think we’re getting to the bottom of it, Shani.

  9. merijoe

    Forgiveness? It doesn’t make you heal any quicker or any better or give you super human power…healing comes from within.
    Here some forgiveness:
    “I forgive you for insisting that you love me and putting marriage on the table when you didn’t really mean it, I forgive you for hurting others before you met me and telling me all about it, I forgive you for being two faced, I forgive you for accusing me of things that weren’t true, I forgive you for going from zero to 100 anger in 3 seconds about something you made up in your mind or if I didn’t answer your call quick enough, I forgive you for telling me you were going to get back with an ex then changing your mind in 2 days and focusing on me instead, I forgive for telling me 5 minutes after we met that I wasn’t the one and we could only be good friends-nothing else, I forgive you for acting as though I was invisible for the whole weekend after you made that announcement to me, knowing I was stuck out there in another state, never even taking me out for a walk around the block, then stringing me on for months by phone or text…..etc etc” Yes, I forgive him for ignoring everything about me until he needed something and having no substance.

    Is this what is meant by forgiveness? He can kiss my big pink behind, and meanwhile, Im picking up the pieces, not him.

    1. Admin

      I guess that’s what’s meant by forgiveness, Merijoe! He can kiss my behind too, because I could never say those things and mean them, either. I’m not sure how that could help anyone feel better about what happened. There is no shortcut to healing, at least that I know of. A trauma that serious needs an equally serious period of healing. “Instant healing” would actually be a bad thing. How would you learn all you need to know without the drive to do so that comes from wanting to understand the trauma you’re feeling and protect yourself from more of it in the future? And how would you re-discover and learn to truly appreciate your worth and your self, and create boundaries, and get all the other good things that come along with healing from something so terrible? There would be no advantage to a quick recovery, unless going back to being oblivious is the goal.

  10. Nicola

    When still in shock, I got bullied in an online support group for posting about the value of forgiveness. It seemed to me at the time that forgiveness was a way of freeing oneSELF from bitterness, rage etc, etc. Now I totally get that this belief was coming from a very deeply ingrained cultural delusion (don’t mean to be rude) that we in the west all share. Now I get that forgiveness in this instance is not the answer. Never forgive is the answer. And we need not judge OURSELVES for that.

    I think it is really, really important to show COMPASSION towards mySELF for my inability to forgive. Letting go of some of those cultural shared beliefs that get quoted at us by well meaning bumblers (like myself two weeks out) is a step towards freedom. Not forgiving, but letting go of the belief that we MUST forgive. Perhaps not labelling the bumblers as ‘judgemental’ might help us too. Understanding that they are blind to their own ignorance.

    For that matter, feeling COMPASSION towards oneself for the anger, rage, bitterness, fear, loathing, craving for justice and other uncomfortable emotions is much more nurturing than the guilt, shame and self- recriminations that we tend to fall into for having those emotions in the first place! We can allow ourselves to rejoice in how well we are coping with the abuse (past, present or future), pat ourselves on the back for coping when all around us will never understand or know how to support us (maybe). Look what a grown up, wise, strong person you have become by dealing with the unbearable suffering you have endured! Sure, we are still grappling with uncomfortable and destructive emotions, but we are STILL HERE. We each deserve a MEDAL for what we have endured.

    1. Admin

      Self-compassion is the answer, and it’s nothing less than a paradigm shift. It transforms everything. Being human becomes OK again (the psychopaths hated that, saw it as weakness) along with all the emotions we feel, which are, after all, universal. When you get to the point where you feel compassion for yourself, you’re in the final stretch. Compassion is very healing; it’s the cure for the harm suffered from being treated without compassion by the psychopath. Thank you for your comment, Nicola!

      1. Admin

        I forgot to say that I agree we all deserve a medal! It’s no less than heroic how we deal with what was once unimaginable and how we save ourselves. Just when we needed the most support, we got the least. We had to find our own way and become our own heroes. That’s no small task when our world has been turned upside down, and we’re in it. We are all stronger than we ever knew.

        1. merijoe

          That made me cry admin, I survived many other heartaches thru-out the years without “forgiving” anyone….in fact, I came out better somehow. I didn’t forgive anyone, except myself for being too harsh with me.

          1. Admin

            Being harsh with ourselves — but forgiving of everyone else — is the perfect setup for disaster. It’s like we’re trained from a young age to act in a way that makes it easy for psychopaths and other abusers to enter our lives. Forgiveness has its place, but only we should decide whether or not it’s warranted in any given situation. I forgave many of the wrong people, and no good came of it. With the psychopath situation, it was clear forgiveness wasn’t an option, and I definitely came out better for it. I’ll be much more judicious with forgiveness in the future because I realize its value now. When it’s not deserved and we don’t give it, it serves as a protective mechanism. It’s ours, and it is valuable, and we choose to give or not give it to someone. If we give it to everyone, it has no value at all.

        2. Shani

          Self compassion!

          A beautiful outcome of a sō deep discussion. Thank you all for the solace in our life journey.

          ‘ON LIFE’!

          1. Admin

            And thank you for the solace you give in return! Now I must get busy on a post about self-compassion…

  11. Barbara

    On my FB group (VICTIMS OF NARCISSISTS) I have been attacked, maligned, etc as have other members because we do NOT believe in forgiving the perpetrator. Ever. They aren’t sorry, they did it on purpose, they enjoyed my pain, and they have no remorse. Forgive them? Oh Hell NO!

    I’m not “full of hate” and I’m not “holding a grudge” or “being unChristian” or whatever…. I feel nothing for these harmful creatures. I don’t hate them nor do I care what happens to them. The only emotion I feel occasionally is disgust. Other than that I “nothing” them.

    THANK YOU FOR THIS AWESOME AWESOME ARTICLE!

    Sharing my favorite article on the FORGIVENESS issue:
    narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/2007/07/forgiveness.html

    1. Admin

      Hell No is right, Barbara! When we don’t grant undeserved forgiveness to the abuser, it gives us our power back. It’s an act of self respect.

      Forgiving everyone for everything no matter how much harm they did is somehow considered virtuous, but as i wrote in my ‘Boundaries’ book, ‘there are plenty of people willing to let you sacrifice yourself on the altar of virtue for their benefit, and to your detriment.’ Not forgiving the creeps who harmed us without compunction does not mean we’re ‘unforgiving’ or hateful — it means we’re sane and smart.

      Here’s the link to Barbara’s article: Forgiveness

      An excerpt:

      “Forgiveness is the transaction that allows for restoration. On the offender’s side there must be confession (admit to their act against you), contrition (show sorrow for what they’ve done to you) restitution (pay back what they took plus a penalty) and repentance (show solid determination to not re-offend). The person being asked for forgiveness, you, can then offer a large measure of grace if you are convinced of the sincerity of the offender’s efforts… The word “transaction” means that forgiveness can not happen unilaterally. It takes two to dance this tango.”

      Thank you for your comment!

    2. merijoe

      The end of my marriage came in 1984 (he’s not the recent P) he was horrible to me, ended the marriage abruptly without discussion, and conversed with his mommy behind my back instead of me, I never forgave him, it took 2 years of crying and berating myself but then I was able to “nothing him” and am so indifferent to him now, that I just think of him as an acquaintance, if that, and there is no way that weirdo has any place in my mind.
      That’s the place I want to be at now with this one, and I will get there, without forgiving the way he treated me, the way he tortured me-yes I allowed him to…. but I will not be angry at myself for loving a person and trying to show someone that I cared.
      I didn’t know (until later) he was a mentally ill person with no human capabilities to actually appreciate the gift of human kindness/love.
      I just move on, and keep my heart open, with eyes wide open.

      1. Admin

        I believe keeping our hearts — and our eyes — open is the best thing we can do. To close our hearts would be to miss out on a precious part of life. There’s a certain amount of risk involved in everything, and some things are worth that risk. I will not let the psychopath continue to have a negative effect on my life. Amazingly, dating is less stressful and more fun now. Although it would be great to have a wonderful man in my life, I’m perfectly content on my own. I no longer think I’m not complete or can’t be happy until I’m part of a couple, and that “take it or leave it” attitude — that lack of ‘needing’ it — changes everything. I am no longer concerned with whether someone likes me or what they think of me, because my thoughts now are about what I think of them. It makes for some very relaxed dates. A few have remarked about how my ease puts them at ease, and I just smile. Just one of the many positive changes I’ve experienced. I’ll have to write a post about it. I’d also like to know how others have changed. Thanks for your comment, Merijoe.

        1. merijoe

          I like that…its what I think about THEM not the other way around….that’s the key. Forget about if they like me. That’s my new philosophy.

          1. Admin

            It’s a good one — I highly recommend it :-)

            1. Admin

              It probably goes without saying, but when you’re not self-conscious, you’re able to more clearly see the other person.

  12. AFTERthepsychopath

    The thing that I once called a boyfriend, but now know just exploited my kindness, is a person I don’t even see as an ex-boyfriend. He was a leech, a thief and a rapist (rape by deception) as far as I’m concerned. I feel no need to forgive, but I do feel a need to completely accept how brutally destroyed I am, in order to rebuild myself. It is hard to accept. If (when?) I heal from this mess, it will be thanks to people supporting me and to myself, not to him.

    Your posts are very good. <3

    1. Admin

      Yep, it was not a relationship — it was a victimization. The first part of healing is accepting how destroyed you are, because then you know what there is to heal from. I believe you will heal. It’s not easy, for good reason, but it is possible. All the best to you in your recovery! xo

      Glad to hear you like the posts :-)

  13. Dee

    If you forgive the psychopath you are actually giving he psychopath a hall pass to do more harm. My ex psychopath would use an act of forgiveness as proof that he is not so bad after all. He would tell his new gf, family and friends that my forgiveness is proof that my jealousy and possessiveness were to blame for our break-up. Forgiveness would fill his ego and give him additional fuel to victimize further.

    Psychopaths do not care or love anyone. If they say they are sorry, they don’t mean it. Psychopaths never seek redemption because the feel entitled to do whatever they want and they are never wrong.

    People have told me to forgive my ex because I knew what he was and it was all my fault for staying in the relationship. This line of thinking actually made it harder to heal. I cannot forgive him for deliberately manipulating my tendency to see the best in people. I cannot forgive a man who got a sadistic thrill watching me struggle with his duplicity and lies.

    Forgiveness won’t change a thing. Forgiveness is not freeing. The only thing that will free me is to avoid him forever, much like I avoid all things evil. When I think of the ex p, I envision him with a toxic, dark and dirty covering. This covering is fluid and is easily absorbed by all who cross paths with him. I do not want to be contaminated. Seeing him accurately is the best way for me to heal and forgiveness has no part in it. How could I ever forgive the devil?

    1. Admin

      Forgiveness is a lost cause on a psychopath, for sure. You’ve explained that clearly, Dee. Amazing how he used it against you. The last thing they need is more ammunition, and the last thing we need is more abuse. Even if they don’t know they’ve been forgiven (again, that’s not forgiveness, it’s something else and I’m not sure what) it seems to me that the forgiver is re-victimizing themselves. Once again, they’re internalizing the message that their emotions are NOT ok. P’s restrict emotion — it’s a common and deadly weapon in their arsenal — and it only causes intense frustration and even more extreme emotion ( see the post, Backed Into an Emotional Corner). Why would someone then try to restrict their own emotion by “forgiving,” or let someone else tell them it’s the right thing to do? I’m at a complete loss to understand this concept or why anyone would think it was necessary. I guess that’s obvious. I just don’t get it! We kept forgiving them, and like you, we found it was the wrong thing to do. Why keep trying to do it, even after they’re gone? But of course there’s that strong cultural message about unconditional forgiveness, and I’m sure that’s a big part of it.

  14. Dee

    Admin – You are so correct re “P’s restricting emotion.” If I ever I voiced upset, frustration, anger,confusion, or dared to question him, I would be punished. He’d either give me the silent treatment, or criticize me with disdain. He couldn’t accept anything that wasn’t praise. Gosh, that was exhausting and kept me in perpetual “on” mode. Every idea and action needed to be applauded.

    The cultural idea of forgiving someone to feel better is an ego based idea. It sets up the illusion of the “forgiver” regaining control: to take ones power back. I suppose in some cases, this can work (especially if there is sincere remorse), but not with a psychopath because the psychopath acts with pure malice and deliberation. To forgive a psychopath means you accept what was done to you.

    1. Admin

      I can understand it when there’s sincere remorse; in that case, it definitely restores power. In the case where there is no remorse, it can only disempower <<< spellcheck wanted to change that to "disembowel" -- maybe that would be more fitting

    2. Nicola

      Dee, “if I ever voiced upset, anger, confusion or dared to question him, I would be punished…….exhausting!” I’m sure everyone on this blog relates to that behaviour. They manage to twist it around to make it look like they suddenly abandoned you because you are angry, confused etc, which you are – as a direct result of their behaviour – but no one else can see that. If you throw the second punch, as it were, you look like the baddie. Most people can’t cope with their own uncomfortable emotions, let alone someone else’s, so you find yourself with no support, being blamed for the whole situation because you were angry and confused. The P’s modus operandi is incredibly simple and elegant when you think about it. Just accuse US of the shocking things they are doing to us. Shift the blame. People want to believe the charming, easygoing, not-a-care-in the-world one and not the angry, broken, barely-in-control-of-their-emotions one! That cuts way deeper even than our ingrained cultural requirement for forgiveness, and it drags on for years beyond the abandonment. For me, 18 months out, it is the low opinion others hold of ME that is one of the most painful and nagging things to let go of. My P keeps telling everyone, “there was no malice in what I did” and they accept that at face value. In fact, there was nothing BUT malice from beginning to…..now.
      Thanks everyone. I’ve been following this post for over a week now as it has opened a really deep can of worms. Taking the subject into meditation has been deeply healing for me as I recognise and detach from beliefs I didn’t even know I had until now.

      1. Admin

        “The P’s modus operandi is incredibly simple and elegant when you think about it.” Yes. And now we can see right through it. What was once a complete mystery is now glaringly obvious. Half the people in anger management programs have probably really only been driven witless by a psychopath. The other half probably are psychopaths.

        “That cuts way deeper even than our ingrained cultural requirement for forgiveness” Actually, I think it’s the very same thing. People are urged to forgive for one reason — to get rid of their anger. It’s the same damned thing all over again. If you don’t do it, they have a low opinion of you — just like the psychopath. And then their low opinion inflicts more harm. The lack of understanding and support from those close to me was equally painful, or even more so. It amazes me how their ‘work’ seems to continue long after they’re gone. When I was going through it, I felt as if he had set time bombs to go off at intervals in the future.

        The purpose of this site is to reveal beliefs you didn’t know you had (but that are affecting you) so you can deal with them. Needless to say, I’m very glad it’s doing its job for you.

  15. merijoe

    Good Lord…More of the puzzle is coming together and Im seeing that, though heartbreaking, I was involved with a criminal (and you don’t have to be caught by the law to be one) and it is a blessing that Im not involved with him in that way (and soon, I wont even be thinking of him) anymore. It crossed my mind that he may have just invented those horrible stories, but it really doesn’t matter, the fact that he even could “go there” in his screwed up fantasy world and repeat these stories to someone he pretended to love/respect, without giving a disclaimer before or fter telling it, proves what a sick puppy he really is. But I believe the stories, and I think there is even more horror connected with it that I was spared.
    Never again and NO FORGIVENESS will be given to him by me, ever.

    1. Admin

      The puzzle comes together one piece at a time. Mine used to tell me stories, too… but everything happened “a long time ago” (BIG RED FLAG in the future). None of it was criminal, but it was disturbing enough to send me on a weeks-long search of cold cases. They LOVE to tell their stories! Believe them; they have no need to make them up, but they do have a need to brag. I agree that we were spared the horror. It is a blessing that he’s out of your life, Merijoe. Forgiveness isn’t what’s needed. Acceptance of reality is, along with time. With me, I accepted the painful reality, time passed, the bond broke (yes, it can last long after you know the sordid truth!), more time passed, emotions mellowed, and indifference set in.

      I’m not sure “indifference” is the right word, though. I think DETACHMENT fits better.

      1. merijoe

        Indifference in that I could care less what he thinks, feels, says or does….it’s like “pass the ham, please”.
        is the word, rather, detachment?
        Yes, no reason to make up stuff except they do tend to like reactions.
        Yes, acceptance of reality-eyes wide open.

        1. Admin

          Sorry, Merijoe — I was describing what happened after acceptance, and then wondered if ‘indifferent” was the right word for how I feel about him. It may very well be the right one for you. In a general sense it works, but doesn’t feel exactly right. I think I’m just splitting hairs, which I have a tendency to do sometimes :-)

          1. merijoe

            No worries admin…I have a tendency of using the wrong descriptive word. Im looking forward to your new post on be compassionate to yourself….I need that for sure.

            1. Admin

              In that case, I’d better get started!!!

  16. Annette

    Beautiful photos!

    Logic is that it’s not possible to forgive someone for something he/she continues to choose to do. If the perpetrator doesn’t want forgiveness because he/she doesn’t think he/she is doing anything wrong, there’s nothing to forgive.

    ‘Repent’ means change, and if a psychopath changed and became a different person with different motives and truly regretted harming his victims, it might not be so difficult to forgive.

    In my experience with my ex psychopath, my friends and family who knew what he did and does never mentioned forgiveness. The psychopath explained his leaving his fake ‘marriage’ to me by insinuating that a lifelong addiction to cross dressing and pornography including child pornography (which I was unaware of until after ‘marrying’ him) was actually one indiscretion with a live adult woman (he insinuated he had an affair, when the truth is that he is not sexually interested in adult women, although he is interested in serially exploiting us); and that I would ‘not forgive’ him of his affair. I found out about it when his new victim told me I should forgive him. I told her the truth about him and she believed it. It appeared that she felt very betrayed by his lies to her about me. I was irritated at her and felt sorry for her at the same time.

    During the fake ‘marriage’ the ex psychopath constantly accused me of being unforgiving. What he meant by forgiveness is that I not hold him accountable for his harmful behaviors and that I condone his lying, abuse, and porn. For years, I repeated over and over to him that I forgive him for everything he’s ever done, what he’s doing, and everything he ever will do. Since he never repented, my forgiveness could have no meaning; and it actually infuriated him because he wanted me to refuse to forgive so he could blame me for his leaving. The real reason he left was because his mask slipped; and I became a problem for him and not so much fun to exploit and abuse.

    1. Admin

      Forgiveness is wasted when it’s given to a psychopath. My head spins when I read your comment — he called you unforgiving even though you forgave him many times, yet he didn’t want you to forgive him so he could blame you when he left. There’s no way to win with them; everything we do will be wrong or twisted to suit their purpose. You’re lucky none of your friends or family pressured you to forgive him. They must be an enlightened bunch who know the real meaning of the word.

      Glad you like the photos! I chose them simply because they were beautiful.

      1. Annette

        Wasted and then some, because psychopaths use forgiveness as a license to keep abusing.

        It helped me that I was in my forties when I was targeted, and I had had a good marriage previously from which I was widowed. The psychopath ‘marriage’ lasted 5 years, then I stopped contact with him. Friends and family whom I’d known for many decades didn’t believe his lies, and are loyal to me anyway. Spouses are supposed to be loyal, but psychopaths turn on everyone especially those closest to them. It was mind blowing and heart breaking, and extremely frustrating trying to deal with the psychopath.

        The couple of people (a new minister who didn’t know the situation outside the psychopath’s lies about me and the new victim) who suggested I forgive falsely assumed that the psychopath had changed. I set them straight, and they no longer advocated forgiveness. I can’t imagine anyone who understands that the perpetrator is still deliberately doing wrong and harming, advocate forgiveness. It just makes no sense. I think that most people don’t understand about psychopaths and so they assume that their evil is mistakes and that they must want to change and stop hurting others, like normal people.

        1. Admin

          The lack of repentance (change) is a large part of the absurdity of forgiving a psychopath. They’re still doing the same thing and still causing harm, whether to the victim doing the forgiving or to someone else. It’s senseless. But as many “forgiveness advocates” say, “it’s not for them — it’s for you.” That reduces forgiveness to feel-good nonsense. It’s not forgiveness at all — it’s a mental game played in an effort to eliminate negative emotions.

          I’m glad you had the support of loyal friends and family after being put through such hell for five years.

          1. Annette

            Another way my ex psychopath twisted ‘forgiveness’ was when he lied to his other victims (his ‘friends’ and ‘family’) about how horrible I and my young son are, and then he asked them to go ahead and ‘forgive’ me and young son. This was psychopath’s tactic for being able to smear me without them confronting me with his lies and/or treating me badly, which would have risked a conversation whereby the truth may have come out to those he had been lying to. He was managing people and ‘fake’ relationships like a chess game.
            Makes my head spin just remembering it.

            1. Admin

              The good thing is that he didn’t get anywhere with it. He was clearly playing chess with the wrong people. It’s sad when the friends and even family of victims are turned against them. It adds much injury and takes away needed support.

  17. lyn

    Another considerate, compassionate, and helpful article for the survivors of the ruthless.
    It was the exact thinking that I should forgive for my own good that kept me in a place to be repeatedly victimized. Nope. Not only do I not forgive them, I consciously remember their acts as unforgivable, while I learn to recognize a red flag for what it is, to protect myself, and not fall into the faulty belief that there is good in everyone. There isn’t. Just as I remember the words and actions of the compassionate, to solidify what I am learning, what the difference between the two feels like. Thank you for providing examples of true unconditional caring. A constant for sure!

    1. Admin

      THANK YOU, Lyn! Your words are deeply appreciated.

      1. Nicola

        Admin, I wonder if you could work on a post about the issue of family and friends being manipulated by the smear campaign as well? The ‘no support’ thing is still the hardest issue for me 18 months out. Lovely to hear about friends and family who were able to see through the lies, and Bless them! Mine effectively said, “you married a liar and cheat and expected him not to lie and cheat on you. You have no one to blame but yourself”. So, dealing with other’s lack of compassion whilst trying to provide all the compassion one needs to oneself is another difficult conundrum.

        1. Admin

          I hear you — the lack of support just when I needed it most is the one thing I haven’t gotten over yet. I will write about it at some point. Wish I could do it right now, but I’m still trying to ‘come to terms’ with it. The psychopath was a psychopath, but what’s their excuse? In my case they didn’t even know him, so there was no smear campaign. I did not keep those people in my life, and it’s very common to thin out the address book after this and other kinds of trauma. We find out who our real friends are. If they make no effort to understand, and only want to lay blame without considering how hurtful it is, then they aren’t really friends. Aren’t friends supposed to be there for the hard times? I think that’s when we see what people are made of. If they’ve known you longer than the psychopath and side with them, you could say they’ve been manipulated by him just as you were… but that’s exactly what you were trying to tell them — that you were manipulated. Goddamned psychopaths!

          One of my first posts was about this subject, now that I think of it: How to help a friend victimized by a psychopath

        2. Dee

          Nicola – I am right there with you! I lost many friends and most of my family turned their backs on me and judged me. They said it was all my fault and that I must love to suffer. I knew he was a swinger, cheater, lier etc and I went back many many times. So, these people maintain that the pain I endured and the time I wasted and took from my children is on me. They had no patience for me and considered my suffering a burden and a nuisance. My pain (because they said it was self inflicted) was not worthy of support and help. Now, as for the psychopaths’s friends, they believed him. He presented an elaborate smear campaign and said I was crazy, insane, I had intense trust issues and I was overly possessive and controlling. He was very convincing when he said “I love her, but I just can’t live this way anymore,” and they believed him. Today, he is with a wealthy business woman and on fb he posts daily how much fun they are having. He posts pics with her, her friends, their lavish trips, concerts, adventures and dining out. They’re even moving in together! So, of course his friends believe he’s a good guy, capable of sustaining and committing to a relationship. His current relationship disproves that he is a man who has a secret life of sadistic sex with men and women and views animal porn. His freinds believe that whatever I said was due to sour grapes because I lost him. How could both realities co-exist? The rational brain rejects the bad and deplorable and that’s why he can continue to con. Why would his friends ever want to believe horrible things about him? It makes more sense to blame me. I even sometimes question myself and I think: WOW, look how normal he is. He never posted so much on fb with me and never announced to the world when he moved in with me.
          If I can still question and have thoughts that he is capable of change, then why wouldn’t people on the outside think the same? His friends are also believers of the lie, just as I was.
          I know I shouldn’t peek at his FB (through a freinds account), but I do sometimes out of complete fascination. Because I have survived a psychopathic relationship, I can see so clearly what is happeneing. It’s almost like having x-ray vision (which I wouldn’t have, had I not be victimized by the psychopaths). I can see how he has enacted a very careful con. He wants this target because he needs her money. Never before has he enjoyed such splendor. I laugh because most men would feel emasculated to let a women induge him so much, but not a psychopath because he has no shame. He feels entitled to take it all. I just wonder how far he will go to swindle all she has.

          1. Admin

            I suspect he posts so much on FB to keep hurting you; he may also be doing it because he knows it’s important to her. Probably both — they’re great at killing two birds with one stone. Whatever the reason, Dee, may I gently but strongly suggest that you go cold turkey from his FB page? It’s not doing anything good for you, and as you said it makes you question yourself. After what you’ve told us about him, there is nothing to question. It’s easy for them to present themselves as normal, but you know what’s under that facade. xo

            1. Dee

              I know. I must stop peeking & wipe him off the planet, like he never existed. After all, he never really did anyway. He was just an illusion. Thank you! xox

              1. Admin

                I used to peek. Now all that’s left is a Google Alert for his obituary. I wouldn’t want to miss that.

              2. Annette

                I’ve got an obit alert out on my ex Psychopath, too!

              3. Admin

                You do?! I thought it was just me, but maybe everyone does! A few months ago, I actually got an obit alert… but it was for someone else with the same name as his. I was surprised at the disappointment I felt.

              4. Annette

                The alert I’ve got is for anyone with the last name (not a common one) in the state the ex psychopath lives in. I’ve gotten alerts for distant relatives; and like you, I experienced a reaction when I got them.

                When I finally committed to getting rid of the ex psychopath, I used a tombstone generator site to make and print a picture of a tombstone with his name, and the ‘death date’ I used was my end date of the fake ‘relationship.’ I posted it in the kitchen, and it was empowering in a way to see it during the beginning of the recovery process. Now I don’t care to see anything reminding me of the psychopath.
                tombstonebuilder.com

              5. Admin

                I had a little memorial service for mine, to say goodbye to the ‘soul mate’ I was still hung up on a year later. I think it worked, or at least helped. Too bad I didn’t know about the tombstone generator!

  18. Nicola

    PS. Sorry, I talk too much. It’s the result of having no one left to talk to all these months! I was abandoned by my husband, then my family, then my friends…..probably not the only one here to experience that.

    1. Admin

      Your comments are welcome, and I thank you for them. If I never heard from anyone and was sending my writing into a big empty void, I’d have been gone a long time ago.

      You’re not the only one to experience it, Nicola. It’s part of the trauma of it all, perhaps the worse part. I needed support and understanding, too, and this site turned into a way to find those things as well as a way to offer them to others.

  19. laura

    Abusers name should definitely be made public,no matter the consequences.A truth half told is not complete.There seems to be an unwritten rule to not give names.Abusers know it and use it to their advantage.Telling their exact name means overcoming the final fronteer:fear of further terror.How does keeping silent benefit a victim? Despite of the consequenses,which are real,somebody has to do it.

    PS: I didn’t attach my comentary to the area where it was discussed by using the reply option because it would have looked oddly thin.Still,i felt it was very important for me to express my opinion,as i encounter this attitude in daily life.If a doctor asks for extra money to perform a difficult surgery,the patient is willing to call a tv debate and tell what happened,but without names.The same goes if you want to get a job and the potential boss demands bribery to get you hired.Victims tell the details,but not the names.It’s time to step out of the victim role that abusers have assigned for us.Let’s reverse the situation.Let’s make the abuser fear being exposed.The problem that victims are facing now for going to trial will disappear in time,if we have the courage to take the first step.After all,we survivors are known for our bravery and resistance.

    1. Admin

      The examples you’ve given — a doctor extorting money from a patient and a boss demanding a bribe from a potential employee — are clearly illegal, and there are legal consequences in place for people who commit those crimes. The legal system will assist those who come forward and report them. Same for someone who had a “lover” who physically injured them, or stole their money by way of fraud, or abused their children, or is stalking them.

      But emotional rape is not recognized as a crime; no one even knows what it is. It looks to all the world like a relationship gone wrong, or at most like some mean jerk bullying and/or cheating on their partner. To some, our claims just make us look like jilted lovers out for revenge or looking for a way to deal with being dumped. Many times, the psychopath turns the tables and is successful in making the victim appear to be the abuser, or making the victim seem “mentally unstable.” There is no evidence. It’s only your word against theirs. If publicly making a seemingly dubious and easily debatable claim is worth the possible consequences to you, then do it. Others can decide for themselves which battles are worth fighting and which ones will simply prolong or worsen the trauma.

      Much like the subject of forgiveness, exposing the psychopath is a personal decision, and not one to judge others for. You may believe we have a moral obligation to expose them, just as others feel we have a moral obligation to forgive, but generalizations never work. Everyone’s situation is different. And just as forgiving a psychopath opens the door to more abuse, so does exposing one.

      If someone chooses to expose the psychopath, that’s fine. If someone chooses not to because they believe it would be futile and come with the possibility of great personal cost, that’s fine, too. What’s right for you in your situation is not right for everyone else. Only I can decide what’s right for me and only I know what my reality is. I stepped out of the victim role a long time ago. It doesn’t matter to me what criteria you’ve set in your own mind as to what that means. What does matter to me is your attempt to make former victims feel shame and guilt for not doing what you think they should do. I’m not saying you’re doing it purposefully! but it is there between the lines. Many of us will no longer respond to that, because in overcoming our abuse we have become confident in making our own decisions based on our own perceptions, boundaries and values, in an effort to do what we believe is in our best interest.

      You believe exposing the abuser is the right thing to do, and I support you in that. It empowers you and fulfills an obligation you believe you have. If you would, could you tell us how you went about it and what the result was? And if you’d like, you can include his personal information and expose him here.

  20. Admin

    “these P’s need more and more victimisations at a greater rate as they age. With practice, they get more skilful at targeting victims, and following the whole deadly scam through to its natural end, needing more and more supply to get their kicks.”

    Yes! Mine was 65, and he had it down to a science. I went from soul mate to boring worthlessness in just 8 months flat, and he already had his next victim primed and ready — I know, because I saw him grooming her. And she was 10 years younger than me. Age doesn’t slow them down — it makes them worse. And he appears respectable with a full marriage, because he’s already married — he has no need to take the trouble and time of marrying each victim. He isn’t slowed by age — he leverages it for all it’s worth, and combined with many years of practice, he can move from one to the next at a frantic pace.

    It is ‘textbook,’ Nicola. They all seem to follow the same script. I think it’s encoded into their genes or something.

  21. Dee

    Nicola – Yep, yep, yep. I also think that although most psychopaths are not serial killers, they are probably capable of it. I confronted my ex with the sordid sadistic exploits I uncovered ( because I became a supper sloth) and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in fact a murderer. Anyone who considers violent sex fun ( more than just role playing) is a misogynist. And, it was more than just thrilling for him. What I discovered made it seem as thought he needed it and the secrecy of it was like a junkie getting his fix. He tried to minimize it by saying it was just a way to “blow off some steam.”

    I agree with you that age may make him a little more desperate. He’s 57 and jobs and finical resources are slowing down. The new gf ( just shy of a year) is a plentiful young resource. I do worry for her. There is no telling what he would do to get his hands on all of her money.

    Last night, as I laid in bed, I thanked God for feeling safe and for the warm secure feeling of having my children happy and thriving. I felt thankful that my intuition screamed so loud I could not ignore it, so that I found Columbo type skills within me. Who knows those skills may have even saved my life.

    Admin – Was your P married when he targeted you? I am amazed by the P’s who are married and prey on targets. Being married and duping a target and the wife simultaneously must be a huge thrill. The P must feel godlike. It’s a definite skill and would require a lot of practice, effort, planing, manipulation and gas lighting. A normal person would be exhausted to carry something like this out. But, for a psychopath, who is without a soul, heart and conscience, it’s probably what fills in the empty spaces. Frightening!

    1. Admin

      Mine said he watched porn every day; I can’t imagine what kind of porn it was. I don’t want to know. I asked him, and all he said is it wasn’t “too bad.” Yeah, right. He never did or asked me to do anything out of the ordinary sexually, though. I don’t think he wanted to push his luck any further, or maybe he was having his fantasies fulfilled somewhere else. He told me that when he was young (everything was always ‘when he was young…’) he fantasized about breaking into people’s homes and tying them up. I asked him what he imagined he did next, and he said that was as far as the fantasy went. I doubt that! He said other weird things as well, and combined with his venomous, intense rage when he discarded me, I felt he was capable of anything. I actually did a search of cold cases. I thought he might even be the zodiac killer, but he wasn’t.

      Yes, he was married when he targeted me — but I was unaware until I was too much in love with him for it to make much of a difference. I got suspicious and searched online, and then confronted him. But what he said was so plausible, because of his age. He had a heartwrenching tale of being a forlorn aging man. He told me how he and his wife were just like roommates, how he was afraid of ending up old and alone, how they hadn’t had sex in 10 years, how deeply unhappy he was, how he only stayed because he never thought he’d fall in love again… until he met me. It was nothing but a well-rehearsed story.

      I have no idea what was really going on in his marriage (or if he was even still married — those records are not public here). But being married provided the perfect excuse for having to keep the relationship secret, which kept his reputation intact and allowed him to continue targeting others as a seemingly single man. He was out 7 nights a week. He could not stop — he only slept more than 3 hours on Tuesdays. He fueled himself with coffee and viagra to keep up with his psychopathic need for intense stimulation.

      1. Dee

        Admin – That’s an incredible story. I have no doubt that what your ex told you was just the tip of the iceberg and that if he had fantasies about it, then he acted out on them.
        My ex psychopaths also had fantasies of tying women up. My detective work led me to emails that revealed he actually acted out those fantasies. He wrote to women telling them how wonderful the extreme sex was: how he enjoyed rape scenarios (that included another man in on the act). He apologized for roughing her up too much and told her he hoped she was ok. In other emails, he described torturous acts that women went along with (the more sadistic and violent the better).

        It’s quite astounding how targets will tolerate secrets, lies and even torture to be with the psychopath. I suppose that fact that we do gives the psychopath the belief that he has license to do what he does? What we will endure to stay close to him, until we reach a saturation point and scream enough! Or, when the psychopath has tired of us and trows us out like trash. It’s the terribly absurd nature of it all that causes our heads to spin. It’s why we need to break it all down, piece by piece to unravel the craziness back to sanity. Admin – You do an amazing job helping us all to do just that! xox

        1. Admin

          OMG, Dee, that’s sickening. He should be in prison. If he hasn’t killed someone yet, he’s well on his way to doing so.

          When the psycho told me of his ‘long-ago’ fantasies, in the context of absurdity it seemed like some harmless youthful folly. In the context of normalcy, it seems like what it is — scary. A lot of what we tolerated, let slide, accepted, or barely recognized as bizarre has a lot to do with the crazy context they had us in. It was their context, their upside-down world where anything goes. That’s where they live. It’s a different world, and our brains went to work doing what they do best — trying to reduce the threat by making things familiar, and therefore safe. It’s an automatic, unconscious defense mechanism. When stressed, the brain seeks comfort in what it is familiar with. If something isn’t familiar, it tries to makes it familiar to reduce the stress.

          1. Dee

            Admin – Fantastic reply. My brain did indeed work overtime trying to makes sense of things and believe him when he said his desires and tendencies were normal.Thank you for the explanation. It makes so much sense. It helps a lot. : )

  22. laura

    When my father hit me,i nearly exposed him.I went to a shrink who had the legal obligation to collaborate with the police,as i was reporting a case of domestic violence.But my abusers had previously bribed the doctor,so he sided with them.If the doctor had been correct in his attitude towards me,i would have shown up in court and give every little detail about the abuser.The fact that it went wrong doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plant the seed.In time,these type of trials will be won,despite of the first losses.Not all victims win.So what? It’s important to fight.

    At first glance,it looks like we are emotionally protecting ourselves.Everybody wishes for safety and comfort,especially the abused.But not giving names means turning the other cheek,so the abuser wins without a fight.Is that fair to victims all over the world? I’m not alone in the world.There are millions of victims out there who need help and can’t be ignored.This world becomes a better place only if we unite and are together.I strongly disagree with the concept of each individual for himself.

    If somebody does damage to the environment,cuts a forest and pollutes the air,names are made public.All the more,damage to someone’s identity should be punished by law by exposing their identity,the very same thing they did to us.This way,the tables will be turned in our advantage.Let’s not act out of fear and let’s beat abusers at their own game.On the internet,i found a place where one can put an abuser’s whole name on the wall of shame.

    The examples i gave illustrate types of abuse.I wasn’t referring to a different situation.It’s the same issue.Emotional rape is not YET recognized as a crime,all the more reasons to change that.The legal system is influenced by those who raise awareness.I want to help future generations to live in a safer world,not only to shelter myself without caring about others around me.Abusers control us by using the fear of possible consequences.I’m trying to raise awareness,not shame and guilt.But we do have a moral duty to eliminate evil from society.If we don’t,than who will? Should we expect others to make things right in the world for us and in our place?

    1. Admin

      You’re seeing this issue from the point of view of your own situation, Laura. I’m sorry for what happened to you. Child abuse is heinous, and what your psychiatrist did was morally and ethically bankrupt. There is no question that child abusers should be exposed and prosecuted.

      The difference in our situations does count. It makes no sense to take an action that won’t help, but could hurt. I know that in my particular case it would do no good. It wouldn’t do anything for the “millions of other victims.” If I used my real name here and plastered his name all over this website, I’d likely be charged with defamation of character and be ordered to take the site down. What good would that do? I’ve chosen to put my time and energy into something that makes a difference, and not into what would be — in my situation — a useless act.

      If you or anyone else thinks putting a name on a ‘wall of shame’ would help in your particular situation, and you’ve considered the risks and are willing to take them, then by all means do it. I tend to question the validity of a public listing like that. Some of the people listed could actually be innocent. Anyone, no matter what their intention, can go to a site like that and add a name. I also wonder how many people visit sites like that. I never have, but maybe I’m an anomaly.

      I understand you not wanting to let them get away with what they do, but there is more than one way to fight it. I choose to do so with this website. You say, “Emotional rape is not YET recognized as a crime, all the more reasons to change that. The legal system is influenced by those who raise awareness.” That’s what I’m doing. Two million people have come here, and I’ll bet some of them had their awareness raised. And I don’t have to sacrifice myself to do it. If I do have a moral duty to fight evil and to care for others, as you put it, I believe this counts toward fulfilling it.

      What are you doing to fight evil, help future generations to live in a safer world, and care for others? I assume you’re actively doing something, since you feel such a strong obligation to do so. Whatever it is, I wish you much success with it, and with everything else in your life.

  23. laura

    If i had money,i’d be very active in this direction and i’d certainly do what i preach.I’m no hypocrit.I’d love to have my own blog,give informative fliers on the street,go to court.I heard about a survivor who managed to make her voice heard in the parliament regarding child abuse.I believe it’s called Erin’s law,and i’m sure she used names,too,with all the risks attached.Who knows,maybe she even received death threats.

    Anyway,i don’t use my poverty as an excuse for not going public.For now,all i can do is write on the internet,and that’s how i bring my contribution to fight evil.Your blog is excellent,but evil is very hard to eradicate.That’s why we must fight on multiple fronts,not only writing.

    1. Admin

      You say we must fight on multiple fronts, and that what I’m doing isn’t enough… yet you’re not doing anything except leaving comments telling people that what they are doing is inadequate?! You can’t be serious.

      It costs $0.00 to start a blog. Go to wordpress.com, register, and you’ll have one of your very own. All it will consist of is endless empty space waiting to be filled, and all it will cost you is thousands of hours of your time, like it has for me to get this site to where it is now. Be sure to surprise me send me a link, OK?

      1. laura

        I find your response to me arrogant,scornful,insulting,hurtful etc.Victims of abuse deserve respect and compassion.

        1. Admin

          Actually, you don’t find my response to be any of those things because you’re not a victim — you’re a troll.

          I want to thank you for playing right into my hands and providing the perfect example for my upcoming post, “How to Spot a Troll in the Forums.”

          I wouldn’t say someone was a troll unless I was 100% sure. Every comment you made, from the first, was inflammatory. You provoked, again and again, and when I remained unprovoked, you went too far by being so absurd that any doubt was removed. When I finally gave you the reaction you wanted, you found fault with me for that reaction. Hmmm… where have I heard that before?

          Is there something you could spend your time doing that would actually be productive or useful, and that you might be good at? Or is wasting everyone’s time — including your own — on meaningless games the only thing that delights you? If so, that’s a shame.

          “Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists,” Psychology Today

        2. merijoe

          I don’t see or feel either Laura or Admin being obtuse or unsympathetic about anything…Laura simply telling admin she appreciated the site wishing she had money to do the same and admin telling her she didn’t need money to start a blog (and that’s true, I know from experience-wordpress and BlogSpot,com are free templates to start blogs).
          I do a lot of protesting and work for local politicians and know from experience, flyers, especially 1 page in black and white, don’t cost but a few dollars per hundred-its hard work, but walking neighborhoods and placing those flyers gets the word out. Comments are good but are very targeted to a specific group of people-usually that’s all who see them, it takes dedication, not a lot of work all the time, but definitely some heart, passion and focus are needed to spread word and mean it-admin is not a psychiatrist, but is a leader and this is a support forum, for all psychopath survivors not a professional counseling site. Admin, needs support too-she is human and a survivor, like all of us, it is up to the individual to take responsibility to take action of getting the word out, if that’s what you feel you want to do.

          1. Admin

            Thank you, Merijoe — yes, I’m a peer (and nothing more) and while I appreciate support, it doesn’t bother me if I’m overlooked because I’m OK now. I’m happy just to facilitate support for others, because I know all too well how hard it is to come by. I will say it again, I would never say someone was a troll unless I was sure. I always give people the benefit of the doubt in these cases, because I would never want to hurt a victim who simply might not realize what they’re saying could hurt others.

            People who troll forums like these first make themselves look credible. When they move on to devaluation, that apparent credibility, along with their defense, can make you question if the devaluation is real. If that sounds familiar, it should.

            Along with a boat load of contradiction (a big red flag), Laura’s comments use the pity play, flattery, forced teaming, shame, guilt, and multiple other ploys. And there was even a “tell” — “She was probably laughing cruelly,thinking that she fooled survivors again. How could the author be so blind and not see what’s obvious, which was another sadistic manipulation tactic?”

            1. Admin

              You might be asking what her reasons were for trolling.

              First and foremost, contemptuous delight at “fooling victims.”

              The hope of getting victims to take an action that could cause further harm, but this is the least important to her. It would only be a secondary gain.

              To discredit me by making me look “arrogant, insulting,” etc., which she even spelled out for good measure. I’m a real meanie!

              Her last and greatest joy is too come back and the read the comments of those who will come to her defense. On that note, let’s not feed the troll any more.

  24. Connie

    Admin—A resounding ‘YES!’ – your posts are amazing, inspiring, healing, uplifting—and always right on target. You can not even begin to imagine how relieving it is to accept the fact that some things are unforgivable. And, an encounter with a Psychopath is the extreme case where such an act of virtue brings only an open door to more abuse. *Pyschopaths run off the same wire—-I was the target of a ‘married’ man who shared the same line of rubbish as the one you shared in your post….makes me wonder of they have their own ‘play book’. Admin—had I not come across your post when I did, it is hard to say where I would be at this point in life—I do know that it was by the inspiration of God who led me to your sight—I was at my lowest of lowest emotionally, mentally, and spiritually before coming across some of your books and then, your post. Being raised Christian – ‘forgiveness’ was and is paramount to leading a Christian life—however, I had a very hard time on my road to recovery because I despised myself, and what I had become, through the manipulitive tactics of a psychopath. Your posts have helped me to accept what happened to me, and to also NOT take personal responsibility for being manipulated. This last post of yours has allowed me to accept personal forgiveness for/and within myself. I have been internalizing for several months now that this was something necessary for me to accept in order that I can continue to grow and move forward in life. Forgiving a psychopath for their behavior and transgressions?????!!!! — they have NO concept of empathy, so it is just words to them. The healing only will come in being able to forgive oneself…..and all of us know that each day is a step towards recovery. It’s long, hard, painful, and difficult — but lately every morning I wake the pain is less and my energy continues to build up. Thank you for your posts and thank you for your willingness to help sooooo many others. Your words heal, inspire and encourage—-I have shared those words with you before ;).

    1. Admin

      Thank you so much, Connie! Your words are equally amazing, inspiring and uplifting to me, and very much appreciated! It makes my heart happy to know my writing has been so helpful to you.

  25. Nicola

    How amazing to think that there are MILLIONS of victims of Ps out there who have visited your blog. And each one of us feels ashamed and thinks we are to blame and we are the only ones in the world who know about it when it first happens to us…..
    Your site is drenched in KINDNESS, compassion and generosity of spirit, as opposed to many “support groups” on FB and Walls of Shame and the like, which are for the expression of rage and revenge. How would I feel if my name appeared as an abuser on one of those sites – put there by my malignant and vindictive, (famous) high-functioning sociopath as a further means of manipulation, humiliation and destruction. Not too good.
    For me, and I see it in action on this site, that early question of, “what did I do to deserve this?”, ends up at “I can only concentrate on being the best person I can be from now on”. As much as we want and need to express our rage, we also want to heal from it. We have to continue to live each day for the rest of our lives with all the contradictions and pain of what happened to us. But on a daily basis, we have the opportunity to cultivate self-love, self-acceptance, compassion, grace, generosity, gratitude, ethical conduct, kindness, tolerance and understanding – as opposed to ‘every man for himself’. Learning to spend a bit more time with these positive states of being is ultimately what make us feel better. Heck, we all know how dreadful anger, spite, revenge, confusion feel for us.
    Seems to me Admin, you have created a space that helps those who visit understand, accept and weep a bit about the pain of emotional abuse, and yet foster a kind and gentle attitude towards ourselves – and that is absolutey the perfect middle ground for progression towards healing. On the surface of it, ‘not forgiving’ might seem cruel, hard and ungracious, but dig a bit deeper and Wow!, we suddenly realise that it is actually a kind, nurturing practice for those of us who have suffered the unforgivable. We unpacked that particular suitcase. I wish for each of us to pack a much lighter, more practical suitcase filled with all the good things for the rest of our journeys!

    1. Admin

      Nicola, thank you for all your very kind and lovely words.

      At first we feel self-blame and anger and thoughts of revenge, but with time and understanding, we gradually move past them. It’s not good to get stuck in that mindset or be around others who are; we’ve all had enough blame, animosity and contempt, and what we need is the opposite. I’m so glad you sense kindness and compassion here. There is also so much of it in the words of the people who visit, and quite an abundance in yours :-)

      I was never one to pack light, but this is one journey where it’s important not to take more baggage along than necessary.

  26. NikkiNicole

    Forgiveness is a generous portion! I agree 100% with what you said there are varying degrees of the “forgiveness factor” lol . One, is the person remorseful, apologetic, owning responsibility for their behavior? This person is someone who deserves forgiveness.

    A psychopath self aware!!! No I think not, capable of introspection!!! No The nature of these folks are so anti-truth they could’nt possibly become so aware all of a sudden to realize what their doing to people emotionally.

    Forgiveness yes does help a person heal in the long run, but it should be a last stage in the healing process not the first or the second. The main person I found hardest to forgive was myself!!!!! How could I let someone do this to me? How could I let this happen? Where the hell did the real me go too? The person that needs to be forgiven is that part of ourselves that let this happen to us.

    Im not offering my forgiveness to my x he was over the top!!! Forgiveness can disarm you!!!
    Especially when situations are new! I prefer to keep myself safe by listening and honoring my feelings. I avoid situations environments and people where I possibly could run into my x because, I NEVER WANT THE WOMAN HE BROUGHT OUT TO RESURFACE. This was the breaking point for me, realizing I wanted to feel the love for myself that I felt before, at all costs, even if that meant permanently not allowing him to re enter my life again. Me, deciding how I would act instead of react was empowering. Taking back your own power is ……………. the beginning of change.

    forgiveness should be the one of the last stages in healing, and sometimes forgiveness validates that we are ready to move on.

    1. Admin

      “deciding how I would act instead of react was empowering. “Taking back your own power is… the beginning of change.” Yes, it is! They’re effective at taking our power, but we can be effective at taking it back.

      1. Danielle

        YES! I needed So much to read all your comments. FORGIVENESS does not work! like dieting,,,endlessly. Be proud, be strong, be angry. Would you forgive someone who has hurt agai and again a child you love??? NO. I have neve forgiven my ex-daughter in law for her cruelty and neglect of my grandaughter ( now an adult, but still damaged) My anger made me stick by her, always being there the best i could. I paid a high price for being loyal, but I have NEVER regreatted it. Loyalty to oneself is the same. It does not mean to be bitter, but forgiveness of cruelty is ridiculous. The Jews have not forgiven the Nazis, they went on building strong lives, but they have not forgiven. Do not forgive these S.O.B. Be proud, be strong the best you can.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          EXACTLY!

          1. Danielle

            SORRY my friends for all my typing mistakes!!!! I was on a roll about the new F# word. Fabulous Adelyn forgave me with her strong EXACTLY. I hope you will too.

            1. Adelyn Birch

              I didn’t even notice! But if I had, I would have forgiven you.

  27. Morgan

    I’m sorry if this was already addressed in previous comments. I couldn’t help but pause when I read:
    “Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

    I always heard it as:
    “Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

    The second version makes a lot more sense to me. While anger is helpful and empowering for a time in the recovery, staying angry years after the abuser has left is a version of abusing yourself. It’s also a waste of energy at that point. So I would say letting go of anger is a mandatory process for healing, but forgiveness isn’t.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Well, the second version is more clear, but they both mean the same thing. The first version implies that if a person doesn’t forgive, they’ll be forever angry and bitter. Yes, letting go of anger is the important thing, and it can happen without forgiveness.

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