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It’s never about forgiving others. It’s only about forgiving yourself.
For not knowing better, for not being able to foresee where it was going, for not having the power to not engage with that which hurt you. For being smaller, unprepared and having less mental and physical power. For allowing yourself to be in the same space with what or who abused you, for trusting it and allowing it to rob you of your life energy. For poisoning you and your future, your perception and decisions along your path.
But, no, you don’t have to forgive them. You can’t, it’s not your job. It’s not your responsibility to repair what they themselves decided, consciously or subconsciously. It’s your job to forgive yourself. And it’s theirs to forgive themselves.
You can try to forgive them, but it will never guarantee their changed behavior, that’s still a job for them to do and you don’t have any power over that. Thinking that if you forgive them, they will stop doing what they do, is an illusion which will cost you in the future and you will end up resenting them, and yourself – again – for it. Then, the act of forgiving them will get harder. And the next time, harder, and so on. It’s a vicious cycle from which you benefit for a second, in that brief time when you expect them to correct their behavior, until they do it again; and it benefits them, because they get to take you by surprise and steal that life energy to feed their inner wounds with.
Abusers and toxic people are wounded people. You can have compassion for them, you can try to show them the way, but you can never heal for them. As long as you act as a temporary holder of the wound, they will never heal.
Forgive yourself. Heal. Let others, including your abusers, do the same. You don’t own their journeys. But you can own yours.