6 Surprising Things About Biblical Forgiveness

by | Mar 22, 2024 | Abuse, Theology of Marriage and Sex | 30 comments

Why does our doctrine of forgiveness and healing often cause so much pain?

We’re told the problem is our hearts, that we’re just bitter.

But what if it’s not that? What if our teaching on forgiveness has gotten things all wrong?

This week, on the podcast, I introduced you to a book by Susannah Griffith, Forgiveness After Trauma.

It’s truly extraordinary, walking through Scriptural texts that look at forgiveness, and shining light on many of the misconceptions we’ve been raised with. Susannah was in an abusive, dangerous marriage, yet her husband later truly owned what he had done and tried to change. But then Susannah was left in this weird place where she loved him, but still felt traumatized to be near him. What was she supposed to do? 

The book is so rich, and I want to do it justice by taking a few posts to walk through some of her big arguments. Today, though, I want to set the stage about what we’re told about forgiveness, and what forgiveness actually is. 

Too often, forgiveness is seen as the quick fix.

When Susannah was walking through her husband’s dramatic suicide threats, including with knives in front of her, her community wasn’t there for her. When she had to separate for her own safety, her community wasn’t really there for her, except for a few people.

But when her husband came back after doing the work, suddenly her community surrounded her, pressuring her to reconcile. 

They wanted the quick fix, for everything to look okay, rather than being willing to enter into the messiness with Susannah.

While the church often talks a good game about reconciliation and peace, too often people are not willing to enter into the messiness and see what people actually need and how they are doing. If the church wants to promote healing, the focus needs to not just be on restoring the offender, but even more so on supporting the victim–even if the victim looks like they’re the strong one.

Our teaching on forgiveness often alienates people from God.

It doesn’t do this primarily because people are bitter and don’t want to forgive (though this could be a reason in some cases). It’s more that, by teaching people that their feelings and safety don’t matter, because they have to keep forgiving no matter what, we change who God is. 

As Susannah explains:

Throughout my experiences of trauma, I’d often felt Christ close to me, suffering with me, advocating for me. But reading those verses [about forgiving seventy times seven], I felt that I was encountering a Jesus I barely knew, a Jesus who didn’t take seriously how deeply I’d been harmed or a Jesus who wanted me to let my abuser off the hook. That Jesus wasn’t someone I could honestly follow. But that’s not who I thought Jesus was.

Susannah Griffith

Forgiveness After Truama

Susannah resolved this conundrum by doing a deep dive into what Scripture teaches about forgiveness, and turning it into this wonderful and insightful book.

But for the rest of us–the messaging that we get about forgiveness pushes us away from authenticity with God. We lose the Saviour is supposed to be there to comfort us, because we’re taught that our pain doesn’t actually register with God. In fact, He’s upset at us for not being able to put that pain aside to reconcile. 

As Susannah said, when she started this forgiveness work, she thought of Jesus’ forgiveness mandates as “directives for unilateral, unconditional forgiveness.” How can you reconcile this with honoring your value as a child of God when you’re actively being hurt? 

So let’s look at six surprising things we may misunderstand about forgiveness.

These are what Susannah opens her book with:

1. Forgiveness needs to come from a place of communal empathy.

I’m going to start with this one, because I found it the most powerful. I have always thought of forgiveness and reconciliation as something that occurs between two people: the offender and the victim. 

But Susannah makes such a strong case throughout her book that forgiveness and reconciliation are actually rooted in community. It’s the community that comes alongside and helps bear the weight of what happened. It’s the community that supports both people, so that the well-being of the offender is no longer on the shoulders of the victim. It’s the community that gives voice to what was done, and tells the truth.

And it is that truth, when acknowledged in community, that brings healing.

In fact, real healing is often only possible in community. Susannah’s story is one, she says, of reconciliation, if not reunification. She couldn’t live with her husband anymore, but she could set him free, loving him, blessing him, helping him be the best parent he could be,  helping him in his faith community. But that didn’t mean that she had to still be his wife. 

When God gives us reconciliation with each other and with Him, it doesn’t mean that all relationships are restored. It means peace and love are restored in community. And sometimes that means relationships look different.

I actually found this really profound, and I’ll write more about it in another post. Susannah talked about this in our podcast too!

2. Forgiveness requires physical and emotional safety.

When you are not safe, and when trauma is still affecting your body, it is not the time to talk about forgiveness. It is the time to focus on safety.

Yet too often we have heard teaching like, “reconciliation and forgiveness is a two-person job, and you have to take responsibility for your part in it,” as if the victim is equally responsible for the rift as the offender. If the victim would just “get over it”, then it wouldn’t be a rift anymore, would it?

In fact, Every Heart Restored, part of the Every Man’s Battle series and authored by Fred Stoeker, states that in marriages with sexual sin, one person needs to rebuild trust and one person needs to forgive. Talking to women who have been betrayed, and telling them they can’t wait to be safe to resume sex, Stoeker says:

And why shouldn’t you expect to make sacrifices even in the marriage bed?…On the battlefield of broken sexual trust, your husband must become trustworthy and you must eventually choose to trust again, and that’ll mean sexual sacrifice. It’s self-defeating to worry about which should come first.”

Fred Stoeker

Every Heart Restored

This is so wrong it’s mind-boggling. But how often is the victim the one blamed for not fixing the problem? 

As Susannah shows, you can’t fix a problem that is still ongoing. You can’t forgive when you’re in the middle of trauma. You matter. And she walks us through Scriptures that show that!

3. Forgiveness needs to be based in the reality of what happened. 

You can’t forgive what you can’t name. You can’t forgive if you’re not even allowed to admit what happened of the depth of the hurt. 

And, yes, this means that people need to be allowed to be angry. Anger is an important part of the forgiveness process. The proper reaction to being hurt, to having our boundaries crossed and being betrayed, is anger. If we have to squash the anger, then we’re not living in the reality of what happened.

Too often we’re told that if we’re angry, or if we won’t forgive, we’re just bitter. But as Susannah explained:

“I knew I felt love for everyone with whom I was setting boundaries. I was not vengeful. I was not trying to cause harm, even though others certainly felt I was sowing discord. All I wanted, all I needed, was for my relationships to reflect that I was a child of God, worthy of safety, dignity, and love.”

Susannah Griffith

Forgiveness After Truama

4. Forgiveness allows for lament.

Susannah Griffith says:

The profound unfairness of what has happened requires attention and witness, from ourselves and from others.

Susannah Griffith

Forgiveness After Truama

And she shows how forgiveness, especially through so many rich examples in the Old Testament, is accompanied by the community lamenting the injustice and naming it. 

In fact, correcting injustice is a huge theme in forgiveness in the Bible. Forgiveness is usually required of those who have more power towards those who have less (think “forgiving a debt”), yet we have turned this on its head, requiring much from those who have less power towards those who have more. Have we missed the richness of what God was saying?

5. Forgiveness allows for accountability

True forgiveness and reconciliation can’t happen unless the one who hurt you is willing to own the weight of what they did. And that means that they will be open to being held accountable. 

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One of the most interesting and insightful parts of Susannah’s work is her deep dive into John 20:20-23, which says in part:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

John 20:20-23

What does it mean to retain sins? She does a deep exegesis I won’t do justice to, but basically, some sins we should choose to remember. Think about when a pastor sexually molests a teen under their care. That’s a sin that should be remembered within the community. It should be “retained.” That’s how we keep people safe.

What if survivors’ ability to retain sins was a legitimate teaching of biblical forgiveness? What would it mean to recognize that Jesus blesses the practice of retaining sins as necessary for the community, even while forgiveness is sometimes necessary as well?

Susannah Griffith

Forgiveness After Truama

6. Forgiveness must be centered on the experience of the person who received the harm.

One of the things that Susannah found most hurtful about her community as she was wrestling with what to do after the abuse was that the focus of the community became making sure her husband was okay, rather than making sure Susannah was okay. Because she had been the strong one during this, caring for the kids and holding down a job and earning the income, she was seen as the one who needed to take the steps to fix things.

As Susannah said,

“What I wanted and needed were never the focus. Instead, everyone’s concern revolved around whatever would stabilize Neill the most.”

Susannah Griffith

Forgiveness After Truama

When the victim is ignored, and when their needs are sidelined, then the community is in effect erasing the harm that was done. That compounds the trauma. 

Getting a broader vision of forgiveness is healing. 

Forgiveness isn’t just interpersonal, and it isn’t unidirectional and unconditional. It’s a community endeavour, as is reconciliation. And in everything, we have to honor the safety, dignity, and personhood of everyone involved, while centering the victim.

That’s actually the model the Bible gives, and if you’ve struggled with that–as I have–you’ll find this little book so healing and freeing. 

Susannah Griffith Forgiveness After Trauma

If the church could grasp this vision of what real health looks like, we would avoid compounding trauma, and we would encourage wholeness. 

I highly recommend this, and I’ll be doing some deeper dives in coming posts about individual aspects of forgiveness, like anger, lament, and accountability.

But for now, do yourself a favour, and pick this book up! It launches March 26, and if you buy it today, you’ll get it right at launch! 

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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30 Comments

  1. Cynthia Bretz

    This one really hits home with me. When I was 17, years and years before I would be betrayed by my church when I left an abusive marriage, my father, who was serving on a church staff, disagreed with the lead pastor. That pastor responded by basically threatening or blackmailing every person on the board that oversaw my father’s position, so he could get a unanimous vote to call for his immediate resignation. This was devastating to my family. I lived alone in an apartment during my last year of high school, working two jobs, while my family moved in with my grandparents in a city 8 hours away. I also lost my church family, obviously. It was an incredibly difficult time, and I was an emotional wreck. In the middle of this, my boyfriend told me his youth pastor (my former youth pastor) was urging him to break up with me. He begged me to meet with him. The pastor told me, “you’re bitter, and you’re having a negative impact on your boyfriend.” Somehow, my trauma, my pain, my situation meant nothing—I was supposed to go on with my life as though everything was fine, I was not allowed to grieve, to be angry, to process anything. The message I got was that God didn’t care about how I felt—he only cared about what I could do for him. And that was even worse than losing all I had lost up till then. Small wonder I put on a smile every Sunday for 29 years of marriage to a pastor who was progressively more controlling and abusive. These crazy ideas don’t just make it difficult for us to heal—they actually set us up for more abuse, to believe God wants us to shut up and take it, that our pain doesn’t matter as long as we are accomplishing our mission.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, Cynthia! I can’t imagine that–being alone in your senior year of high school and feeling like you’re losing God, too. Yes, this teaching definitely sets us up for abuse. Absolutely.

      Reply
    • Brandy

      This situation, and many, remind me of what happen with Tamar, and the abuse she took from her ex husband. God struck all three down because of the abuse she endured, cutting off Judah from ever getting grandchildren… But she was redeemed by doing what was right, and held Judah, her father-in-law, accountable for their actions. All in Genesis 38.

      I’m sorry you went through all that. No one should have to deal with that sort of pain. Prayers for you.

      Reply
  2. Em

    I’m glad you’re doing this series! Great podcast yesterday and I can’t wait to get the book.

    Reply
    • Christie Leggett

      (Corrected comment)

      “True forgiveness and reconciliation can’t happen unless the one who hurt you is willing to own the weight of what they did.”

      I haven’t read her book, so maybe this is addressed somewhere- but this statement does not reflect my experience.

      I do feel that I have truly forgiven my ex. I carried forgiveness towards him in my heart as I fled down the interstate with my 5 children.

      Has he owned up to even 1% of what he has done? Not a drop.

      My forgiveness is rooted in this: I do not expect anything from him. I am not holding my breath for an apology, or any effort for him to make it right. I am not expecting him to make child support payments on time or to acknowledge how he shredded my soul and the kids’ souls and how much work we have to do to heal.

      Forgiveness means he doesn’t owe me a dime (emotionally or psychologically) That debt is between him and God. Forgiveness means I am FREE to pursue healing without waiting for anything from him. My future is totally divorced from the past and I am free to make it as whole and healthy as possible without waiting for anything from him. Forgiveness means I am free of the ties that would bind me to him. (I am 7 years out and it is amazing!)

      I am totally trusting God to do whatever is just on my behalf in His time.

      I am RECONCILED to my ex in this way: I see him for who he really is. And I don’t expect him to act in any way other than in accordance with his true nature. I know he is incapable of seeing the harm he has done. I know he is incapable of empathy. I know he is incapable of love. He is completely incapable of taking any responsibility whatsoever. I am RECONCILED TO THAT REALITY…. and when your expectations match the reality of what you have – there is NO conflict or suffering whatsoever. Suffering comes when you feel “he SHOULD apologize. He SHOULD feel bad” – but he doesn’t.

      Whenever he acts dirty, everyone around me gets their feathers ruffled because “he SHOULDN’T say that or do that”…. but I am totally chill – because that is what I EXPECT from him. And then I respond in the best way possible.

      And when he is charming and gracious and courteous, I know this is in his nature too. But it is only a cloak he chooses to wear at times and can take off at any time to reveal tooth and claw beneath. Seeing that doesn’t ruffle me either.

      I am reconciled to the reality of who he is. And this brings me PEACE. God meets us in reality, in the here and now, not in the fantasyland of what should be.

      Reply
      • Rachel

        This is such a fantastic comment. I couldn’t like it more! I’m so glad you’ve found healing — what an encouraging and hopeful testimony. This is how I would like my life to look some day.

        In thinking about the quote, I wonder if the emphasis is more on the reconciliation part of things, with reconciliation in this context meaning complete restoration of the relationship. Of course you can have forgiveness without the other person’s repentance. Often that’s the only way it happens. But you can’t have reconciliation/restored relationship without their repentance and willingness to repair. So you are reconciled in the sense that you’ve accepted reality and you’re at peace, but I don’t think that’s how the author meant it here. But I haven’t read the whole book, just this quote, so I could be taking it out of context. I agree further explanation would be helpful, and hopefully the book goes into that.

        Reply
        • Nessie

          From Rachel- “I wonder if the emphasis is more on the reconciliation part of things, with reconciliation in this context meaning complete restoration of the relationship. ”

          That’s more of how I interpreted the original sentence, too- the “AND” being a key component, along with the meaning you shared. I can absolutely see Christie’s take on it too though. “Reconcile” by definition can mean both versions.

          Reply
  3. CMT

    I think I need to pick up this book.

    I’ve never been in a situation like Susannah’s in my marriage, but my family of origin operates with the toxic “forgiveness” model. We don’t collectively know what to do with difficult emotions, mistakes or conflicting experiences, so we don’t talk about them. Growing up, harms done were supposed to be fixed with a quick apology at most, and the hurt person’s feelings were expected to just go away, especially if the offender was a parent and “didn’t really mean it.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Well, now my youngest siblings are done. They’re in their early twenties. They’ve been through a lot of crap, some caused by our parents and some not, and they aren’t willing to shut up about it anymore. But our dad responds dismissively or defensively and blames them for being unwilling to listen to his perspective. My youngest brother isn’t speaking to our dad right now. As a semi bystander and oldest child, I’m tempted to try to just smooth things over. But I think I would just be acting like the people swooping in to Susannah’s life urging cheap reconciliation. I don’t know how to navigate this right now, but Susannah’s wise voice on the podcast yesterday felt validating. I don’t know where we’re headed, but whatever healing is possible is going to require accepting the truth, not turning our eyes away from it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is such a difficult situation you’re in! I’d just say: honor your little siblings. They likely feel so unmoored because their parents are against them. I think you’re being wise.

      Reply
  4. Wild Honey

    Yesterday’s podcast and this post have been a literal answer to prayer. Something I shared in a group setting recently prompted a woman to disclose childhood sexual trauma that, even though clearly decades old, was clearly still very “fresh” in her mind. As the only other adult female in that group, I’ve been feeling the need to check in on her but lacking a direction. Thank you for giving me one.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh I’m so glad!

      Reply
  5. exwifeofasexaddict

    I can’t wait to read this book! I’ve been looking for this for over a decade.

    Reply
  6. Tim

    Minor thing, but wasn’t Every Heart Restored co-written by Fred Stoker and his wife?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, but they wrote different chapters, and this one was all his. I hate to blame his wife for it!

      Reply
      • Tim

        Thanks for clarifying.

        Reply
  7. Rebekah Smith

    I have been working through this idea of forgiveness for many years now. I realized, in the midst of my trauma, that it was impossible to forgive. I compared it to a physical wound on the skin. How can a wound be healed when it is constantly being picked at and bleeds again and again and again?

    I knew something wasn’t right in how the majority of Christians viewed forgiveness. Something was deeply off. . . . I really like what was said in the podcast yesterday as well as this blog post. It encompasses so much of what I have been learning over the years and goes even further to explain further ambiguities I had.

    Several years ago, as I was processing this idea of forgiveness, I found it very helpful, for instance, to read Kay Bruner’s book, Debunking the Myths of Forgive-and-Forget. It’s a short book which is very easily digested and clearly underlines the obligations of the victim, the perpetrator, and the Holy Spirit in the process and differentiates among trust, forgiveness, and reconciliation. That book helped me a lot when our marriage counselor asked if I had read any books on forgiveness. I told him the name of this book, and it silenced him . . . because earlier he had asked me to read the book, “Forgive and Forget.” I really needed this validation BEFORE going into counseling (and it wasn’t a Biblical counselor, just a licensed counselor who was a Christian) so that I had “ammunition” to debunk all the Christian ideals of forgiveness which are so unhelpful.

    Lastly, Jonathan Trotter, in writing to missionaries, was also helpful to me. I found this blog particularly helpful when talking about the community aspects of forgiveness: https://www.alifeoverseas.com/one-thing-we-get-terribly-wrong-in-our-response-to-abuse-and-one-way-to-get-it-right/ I like that you mentioned community in your blog. As the most individualistic societies of the world, North Americans struggle with community responsibility, and they often disengage from this in counseling since this is an aspect which is uncontrollable. However, community is necessary in the healing process as any trauma therapist knows.

    Reply
  8. Boone

    I see forgiveness as more for you. You can hold a grudge against somebody for years and it doesn’t affect them one bit. You’re just letting the offender live rent free in your head. The offender may not even realize or most often not care that you’ve even been offended.
    Now, reconciliation and or restoration are two totally unrelated animals. Neither has anything to do with forgiveness. You are under no obligation to restore the relationship or reconcile with the offender.

    Reply
    • Angharad

      Agree. Forgiveness is up to me, restoration is up to them.

      Likewise, I believe there can be forgiveness without safety – look at Stephen, pleading with the Father to forgive those who were killing him, even as they were putting him to death. For a modern example, there are the numerous victims of persecution who pray for their persecutors.

      I would agree that the community should not be preaching forgiveness and reconciliation while the perpetrator is unrepentant, and their focus should be on providing safety and healing for the person who has been harmed. But for the victim, forgiveness can be a powerful part of their healing, as long as this forgiveness is something that is worked out between them and God, not something that is imposed on them as a duty by those around who have not been affected by their pain.

      Reply
  9. Lucie

    I am becoming increasingly convinced that a lot of evangelical Christian males have made a god out of sex.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I would agree.

      Reply
  10. AnonInAshburn

    I hope the following makes sense, as I think I, and likely others, come from a background where forgive = forget, and as soon as the person says “sorry” you are expected to act like it never happened, and anything less is not forgiveness. I know that’s not right now, but not sure what is right!

    So, does this book, or another resource, or anyone in this thread, know about how both the forgiver and the one being forgiven should strive to act post-forgiveness? I understand and agree with #6, Forgiveness Must Be Centered On The Experience Of The Person Who Received The Harm, but what does that look like? In the daily life and actions of both the forgiver and the one being forgiven, what changes should we look for in ourselves and the other person? Susannah couldn’t live with her husband anymore, and that’s understandable seeing her story, and it makes sense that relationships look different, but in times where I’ve asked for forgiveness, or needed to receive forgiveness from another, are there signs or things I should be looking out for in order to see where I am (or the other person is) at in either forgiving or accepting forgiveness?

    Am I even thinking about this right or am I way off here?!? I want to start commenting as an Anon, but maybe I should sign this one Confused!

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Here’s a relevant post from Patrick Weaver:

      https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid02Ec9nFRQKagjQuFfRTuAiEt4q7TyELemZD8MXj61oYPL2kYQNsPXCVkZ68c5JR9k2l&id=100044579857544

      I’m pretty sure I bookmarked it because of the line “an apology without change is manipulation.”

      Here’s a repost by Sarah McDugal with a very similar statement:

      https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid0ZuSwX2DjiMSNdPuSnF6gGkYWgFchcfqtmPVM3VLqf3FgCEhVxnYqbHwaV2p8rCChl&id=100044361072738

      The four X-bulleted statements should probably be memorized by those who keep getting empty apologies so that they can be recited as needed to those who make no attempt to change.

      Reply
      • Nessie

        Great post which I needed!

        Jo R, these are great, thanks for sharing!

        I’m so tired of a father who tells me I “have to forgive and forget” the actions of the abusive mother. I’m tired of the only “apologies” ever offered absolutely dripping with sarcasm or a manipulative threat to commit suicide or “hopefully die” because of being “such a terrible mom.” (Who in heck says that to a kid no less?!?)

        It’s a struggle to “forgive and forget” the actions of a person who has never taken accountability for anything but instead finds a way to gaslight it into being “my” fault and convinces many others. I needed these posts so much!!

        My circles of safe people are growing smaller, but the ones left are also becoming closer and dearer to me.

        Reply
        • Angharad

          As someone who also has an abusive mother, I’d encourage you to set some boundaries. You can forgive someone for their past behaviour whilst still taking steps to protect yourself from future harm. My mother is very talented at portraying herself as the innocent, ill used victim, and I regularly get patronising criticism or rebukes from people who see the ‘sweet old lady’ and have no idea of her true nature. But I do have a couple of trusted friends, as well as my husband, who have a clearer understanding of the situation, and I get my support from them.

          I’ve also learned not to view her as a mother figure – I’ve sought out a couple of ladies who have been ‘surrogate mothers’ to me, and this really helped with the lack of mothering I had from my real mother. I’d encourage you to do the same. One of my ‘adopted mothers’ is a childless lady who has a real ministry in mothering the children of abusive mothers!

          Reply
          • Nessie

            The “apologies” offered were in my younger years, before I learned to set boundaries or realized what gaslighting was. I’ve since learned how to set hard boundaries with her but some family dynamics have shifted as she has turned more against me (and they cannot see that I can forgive while not forgetting.) I will not return to fawning or placating her anymore, so I’ve had to get firmer with boundaries with others now as well. It’s staggering the damage one truly toxic person can have on so many around them.

            I also have a sort of maternal mentoring person. Our relationship isn’t explicitly stated as such but she has been encouraging to me, and is definitely in my smaller but stronger circles. And the few but trusted friends within have been affirming as well.

            Thank you for the wise advice and sharing your experiences!

          • Angharad

            It’s tough, isn’t it, especially when there is so much sentimental slush talked about mothers. I get so fed up with all the saccharine posts about mother love that proliferate on social media. “No one will ever love you the way your mother does” or “The love a mother has for her child is the strongest bond in the world”.

            I’m sorry things have got so much harder for you recently. Praying for peace for you as you deal with the changing dynamics x

        • Jo R

          I’m so sorry for what you have been and are still dealing with. I had an alcoholic, perfectionist father, and some facets of that relationship sound similar to yours.

          My comment from the podcast last week applies here as well.

          Hugs if you want ’em.

          Reply
          • Nessie

            Angharad and JoR, thank you! I dislike that others have similar experiences but I am comforted in the validation when others believe me and understand. Seeing a post like this helps undo my second guessing of self that sometimes crops up despite knowing it already.

            Yes, I get quite irritated by the absolute “mom” adorations as well, and I tire of the “honor your parents” batterings, too… I can “honor” them by not enabling their bad behavior towards me..

            I have a son-I know that is not something either of you were able to have and I am sorry for that- and mother’s day is still painful for me despite being blessed with a wonderful child because of the mom I had. I wish we could change it to “Appreciate Someone Kind and Loving Day.”

            Thanks also for the mini-therapy session! 💗

          • Jo R

            Have you seen the DrDoyleSays FB page?

            He does pithy posts multiple times a day on topics related to trauma recovery. He does not respond to any comments, but his community does in some cases. The main thing he gives is, as you said, validation. He gives permission for us to finally take care of ourselves, in the ways that we need, when we’ve all been so conditioned to ignore ourselves and the things we legitimately need.

            There are many times I literally gasp when I read one of his posts (if you’ve been wondering what those noises were 😉).

            Patrick Weaver is good too, of.course, as you probably already know, with more of a focus on spiritual trauma and abuse.

            I had my own “honor your mother” situation several years ago. After ten years of no contact, I got a phone call from a medical facility where she’d been admitted with severe Alzheimer’s. Her partner was unable to direct her care, because my state does not allow for common-law marriages (it will recognize those initiated in other states, strangely enough). That left me as the first person legally allowed to make decisions. After consultation with our lawyer and a long think, I decided the best way to honor her was to abide by the no contact SHE’D initiated years before. Although I told the medical people her partner, whom she’d been with for twenty-years and who didn’t even know I existed, that he was free to call me if he liked, I never heard from him. I don’t even know at this point, three years on, if she’s still alive.

            Shrug. I suppose I should feel bad, but what, realistically, was I supposed to do, both in the decade of imposed silence and in the face of her current situation? She had no POA, no MPOA. Was I to now swoop in to … do what, exactly? I assume her partner petitioned the court to be appointed guardian, but again, I don’t know.

            Actions have consequences. If you alienate your only child, don’t be surprised if there are repercussions.

          • Nessie

            I don’t use social media (outside of shares like above), but thanks for the suggestions- I do value what Patrick Weaver has to say, and will look into the other.

            Thanks for explaining the noises- now I know what they are! 🤭

            I’ve gotten validation from a counselor about my boundaries, choices, and actions which has been so helpful. I’ve also done a lot of research on narcissism and learned a lot. I wish others understood how they can add to the trauma with their untrained or inexperienced advice.

            I’m sorry you’ve had those experiences with your mom. That sounds so difficult.

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