I have a secret to tell you.
It goes against everything our Christianity-drenched culture wants you to believe. It goes against a lot of pop psychology. It will probably make you uncomfortable.
It’s also true.
The first person who told me this secret was the victim of horrific childhood abuse. The kind you don’t recover from, not really. The kind that permanently changes the wiring in your brain so that you spend the rest of your life desperately fighting just to feel something that resembles the ‘normal’ other people talk about. The kind that would have landed the perpetrator in jail for life had he not died before justice could be served.
So, what is this secret?
You do not have to forgive people. But, you do need to come to peace with that decision.
It’s true. I know it’s not pleasant. It’s not nice. But ‘nice’ isn’t really my thing, nor is ‘nice’ the area most witches focus on. We’re big on truth, authenticity, empowerment, kindness (NOT the same thing as niceness) and introspection. Nice? Nice doesn’t get a seat at the table. Nice is the brightly-colored paint people apply to try to hide the flaws in the furniture. Most times I’d rather just see the dents, thanks.
Many people I know wrestle with feelings of shame around the fact that they are still angry or resentful about the trauma-causing actions of another person. They feel guilt because our culture, their friends and family, and the thrice-blasted positive thinking police all tell them that they need to forgive. That forgiveness is how they’ll find peace.
For some people, that works, especially when the individual who transgressed recognizes the harm they have caused and begins working to unfuck themselves. This is where true apologies come into play – if an individual apologizes, takes ownership of the damage they have done and works to ensure that the same behavior will not occur again, by all means forgive them. Humans are complex, messy creatures. Second chances, when someone is actually doing the work to improve themselves, to change, are a beautiful thing.
On the other hand, there’s this very bitter pill: some things are unforgivable. Some hurts run so deep that forgiveness is not an option. This place – this well of trauma, shame and victim-blaming bullshit is where a lot of us get abandoned by the groupthink. Why can’t we forgive? There must be something wrong with us, right?
Fuck no. We are the victims of trauma, not the perpetrators of it. We are entitled to our anger, our rage. This fury is good. It is the emotion that tells us we still have our self-respect, or at the very least that it is growing back.
So if you, like me, stand in a place of non-forgiveness, what then? Simmering in that rage and resentment for too long can warp us into something we do not wish to be. That possibility is why the second half of the secret is so important: You do not have to forgive people. But, you do need to come to peace with that decision.
Non-forgiveness means closing the door forever. It means cutting the cords, connections and any sympathy or empathy we have for the perpetrator of our agony. It also means throwing the finger to the forgiveness police, but that gets a lot easier as time passes. Setting a boundary is the harder work here. I spent over a decade married to an abuser. I stand in a space of non-forgiveness toward him. His actions were, and remain, unforgivable. I managed (and continue to manage) that space through a few different techniques.
Energetic cord-cutting. I keep a hand-forged iron blade near my altar now, but in the beginning I just used a kitchen knife. When thoughts of my ex’s violations would threaten to overwhelm me, I would stand in front of my altar and run that blade all over my aura, slicing the connection between us. In my mind, I would throw up an iron wall between he and I, slamming the energetic ‘door’ shut. He attempted to contact me once or twice after our breakup unrelated to divorce matters and I did not respond to those texts or messages. I set my boundary in cold iron and followed it up with real-world responses.
Depossession. When we form a bond with someone, that energetic connection means that bits of a connected person’s influence can linger. Depending on who your aggressor is, they may still be trying to control or harm you through that link. I approached depossession through a few different routes. A very dear shaman friend did my first soul retrieval to get some missing pieces back. I also went to Soul Garden Acupuncture and had an incredibly effective depossession treatment from Courtney. Interestingly, after that treatment, I never had another ‘rage day’ – a day when the anger was impossible to release. I have had additional soul retrievals and shamanic healings since then. I also practice thorough spiritual hygiene now. The great thing about keeping up with your spiritual hygiene is that along with preventing new unhealthy attachments, it supports the healing of old ones.
Ritual Sealing. As someone who has trained in shamanism and spirit work, the last thing I want to do is hang onto the soul connection between my ex and myself. I do not want this cycle to repeat during our next incarnation. Within ritual space, I returned any energy of his – any soul pieces – I was hanging onto. I released my connection with him to the Void. I ritually stated that the bond between us was severed, that no energy would pass that way again. I used my rage to help power the sealing off of the connection.
Non-forgiveness doesn’t mean holding on to the rage and anger. I’m not really angry anymore. I can dig down and find it, of course – those emotions are good. They are a part of me. They are my empowerment and my self-respect on wings of flame. Those fires helped rebirth me.
But am I angry? No. I’m at peace with it.
Non-forgiveness means closing the door forever.
You are not broken because you haven’t forgiven the monsters who hurt you. I think you’re wonderful because your self-respect and self-worth are strong enough that you won’t offer up that olive branch to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
The one person I want you to forgive? Is you. Give yourself that balm. Your abuser can fuck right off.
Then shut the door forever.
Do you have some great bond-breaking techniques as well? Hit me up in the comments.
Powered by Patreon
If you enjoy my weekly blogs, please consider supporting me through Patreon. Patreon is what enables me to invest time in writing, teaching and exploring the wide world of spirit. Through small monthly donations from supporters, I am able to make ends meet and devote time to this Work that would otherwise be spent at a mundane form of income generation. Here’s the link: https://www.patreon.com/glassewitchcottage