On forgiveness

He told me I’d amount to nothing and I’ve believed him ever since. I can’t seem to shake it and hate that any success I have will feel like revenge. I don’t want to live in constant reference to him. Is meditation the only way to deal with this?


Nah, boo. Meditation is lovely, but forgiveness is the weapon you need. Forgiveness will allow you to rise above him. Forgiveness will let you move on. Forgive that pathetic piece of shit for everything he put you through. Forgive every abusive word or deed.

Just forgive him.


23 thoughts on “On forgiveness

  1. RocketGrunt says:

    The idea of forgiving those who’ve hurt you always bothered me, even though it’s been explained to me many times that forgiveness is not the same as absolution. Knowing the difference doesn’t make me less annoyed when people present forgiveness as something you do for yourself. A therapist finally got it through to me by calling it “letting go” rather than forgiving. I know it’s trivial, but it has a completely different meaning for me.
    Letting go is accepting that the grudge you carry just puts the weight on you and doesn’t affect them. It’s when you stop letting the past hold you back and start facing the future. You’ve let go when they mean nothing to you anymore, and the idea of forgiving them has no significance.

    So yeah, that’s two cents of pointless perspective from an anonymous stranger in a random comment section on the internet.

    • Sel says:

      I’ve also seen “forgiveness” like this framed as “letting go of the right to retaliate.” I think that’s from the old Fugitivus blog, now defunct, I believe. Anyway, I found that perspective helpful to me. There are people from my past who will never receive absolution from me, but I’ve “forgiven” them in the sense that I have let go of my right to retaliation against the ways that they have hurt me. Sometimes I remember specific incidents and it’s still upsetting, but the vast majority of the time I don’t think about them at all. It’s exactly the point where they are meaningless to me, so forgiveness has no significance.

      OP, it might be worth examining why this guy’s opinion is still so valuable to you. What does he mean to you? What would it take for you to get to a point where you’re indifferent to his existence?

      • Bub says:

        These might be just rhetorical, but I’ll say that I’ve thought a lot about that. I have some theories.

        Months into the relationship and irrespective of him, I got more depressed than I’d ever been. We seemed to understand each other, and when someone I felt understood by told me I’m a piece of shit, I felt my doubt substantiated. And I’ve trusted his opinion on everything, agreed with him on most things other than the inevitable white-boy bullshit. I guess I still respect him. I think that’s the problem.

        Plus I’m empathic as fuck and have issues with identity. I was so good with myself when we started dating, which had taken my entire life to do, but it wasn’t enough for me to be a healthy individual in a relationship. My self-doubt runs deep and far back and things he said had me hating myself more than I thought was possible. It felt like I was delusional the entire time I liked myself. So I guess agreeing with him made me value his opinion? I have to create truth again, this time with what seems like less than before, which has been devastating after such a long time of putting myself together. I’m trying to be okay with it.

        I’m also having trouble reconciling the end of a relationship with someone so achingly good in many ways that met so many needs and that I learned about myself from, with the end of a relationship with someone abusive. I can’t seem to integrate him with himself. I think I feel the need to do that because understanding something helps me put it aside. Staying perplexed keeps me in it. It’s confusing partly because I don’t understand how alcoholism changes personalities.

      • Bub says:

        Your comment is interesting though because I did retaliate verbally on two occasions that I recall and felt guilty afterward, like I had no right to speak to anyone that way. But maybe I retaliated in subliminal ways.

    • Gluten Free Toaster Waffles says:

      That is a great way of putting it. Forgiveness always bothers me, because to me, it seems like saying that something that was bad is actually okay, and you accept it.

      • Jen says:

        I understand that feeling. I try to go one further and understand “that was some bullshit” (or worse) but get to a place where I know we are all just doing the best we can at any given time and have some sympathy for their weakness or pain. Doesn’t mean I have to fuck with them by any stretch. But I try to work through my feelings, learn what I can, and then be here now and let them go and hope we both find peace.

  2. Mondrian says:

    Coquette, you always include such good info about abusive relationships. I’m curious if you were in one. Just subtly putting that here to see if you ever wanna write about it.

    On a different note, I don’t think I realized that I was in a few very abusive relationships until I started reading your blog. This is totally unrelated and potentially not helpful but I just wanna write about it. I feel like I’ve had friendships where people put me down, told me things about myself that weren’t true, and took away what I liked about myself. They put me down for how I spent my time, how I wasn’t able to be available for them constantly. I felt like I could never do anything correctly, and was left with nothing.

    It’s hard to come out of believing the things that people tell you about yourself. I’m sure that “you’ll never amount to anything” is a tough one to shake. Here’s an anecdote about how little it matters what these people say though: when in a moment of being defensive, the abusive people in my life would say ANYTHING. It would switch from “You should read this thing I’m telling you to read” to “Stop reading this thing I’m showing you and do this other thing, why do you keep reading this thing I’m showing you?” It didn’t matter what it was. I was running back and forth doing whatever they wanted, not understanding what they wanted. They just wanted to get mad about something and watch me do their bidding. Just know that you’re lucky that you got out, that that person is not in your life anymore, and they’re probably saying the same shit to someone else. It’s not true, and it’s not about you. Plus, do you really trust the opinion of someone who would say something so hurtful? Albus Dumbledore wouldn’t say it! And he was a great wizard.

    And yeah, forgive them. Totally not paying attention to Coke’s answer here, so I thought I’d come back to it…I myself don’t know if I’ve really done that. I used to make sure I felt bad for the people hurting me, which at least I don’t do anymore. I would talk myself into feeling sorry for them – like, oh, they have no friends. They have a void inside, they can’t help it. The only answer I know is: move away from these people and don’t interact with them. Learn more about yourself and what you like. It’s not a competition and you have nothing to prove to him because he’s out of your life. It’s about you now. Maybe he has issues and couldn’t help it – sure. But who cares. You don’t need to feel sorry for him to forgive him. Just forgive him.

    By the way, a lot of the times when I think of the people I left behind who abused me or were just rude, I’m like, wow, what a garbage person. I’m happy to be off of their roller coster. That was a different life I led – it was not my life. I am happy to be out of their whirlwind of chaos. Can you get to that point?

    • Bub says:

      I still try to figure out whether friends who criticize like that mean well and are just fucked up, or intend to control/hurt people. Which do you think?

      I don’t feel sorry for anyone. I sometimes think I understand the person who told me I’d amount to nothing. The only way I’ve been able to forgive anyone has been to understand them and then just live for a while.

      I’m not sure this person is saying these things to someone else now. I don’t think he treated his previous partners this way. I think I accidentally messed with his head and he acted out, at one point keeping me around just to fuck with me? I couldn’t tell, since it would never occur to me to do that. It was all a bit of a disaster.

      • Sel says:

        Honestly, I don’t think it matters why people who criticize like that do it. It’s natural to wonder, but it’s a red herring. The only person who really benefits from knowing why someone is doing something shitty is someone in a position to change the behavior–in an independent adult, that’s the person doing the shitty thing, and only them. I’d argue that trying to figure it out for yourself is a waste of the time and energy you could be spending putting appropriate boundaries into place so that the behavior no longer affects you. Food for thought.

        • ping says:

          Oh shit, that’s such a good response. Saved for later. I’m an inveterate figuring-people-outer to the point where it’s definitely unhealthy and distressing to me. Thank you!

  3. Chris says:

    If success has been revenge, so be it. But the great revenge will be when you cut the cord, make peace with yourself, and move on.

    In religion, this is an act of repentance. To repent is to turn your back on something forever. Take a step, and it’s farther away. Another step, then another, and eventually you cannot even see it. And soon, you forget. You don’t mean to; you just do.

  4. Huge Heifer says:

    You will always amount to nothing in some people’s eyes by sheer virtue of the definition they’re using. Does Trump amount to anything in your eyes? Most powerful person in the world and still a pile of narcissistic insecurities. Find a metric you can be at peace with, and people who judge you by said metric (like, within reason, obviously don’t join a cult or something).

  5. KarenE says:

    Absolutely not ‘forgiving’ in the usual sense, but that letting go, moving on. It’s what works.

    But in order to do that, you have to go THROUGH. Access the anger, how unfair and undeserved, then the grief about what was taken from you for that time, what fighting it or giving in to it cost you, and about what the relationship w/that abusive person should have been.

    THEN you can get to letting go.

  6. Mare says:

    I found it helpful when my therapist explained that people are doing the best that they can at any moment. It wasn’t an excuse for anyone’s actions and it doesn’t even have to be an exercise in empathy, it was just simply true. Realizing that held so much freedom for me– realizing that some people woke up every single day anew, that every single day they had the chance to grow as a person, to not repeat yesterday or yesteryear’s mistakes, to make meaningful change, to be kind to others, to practice compassion…and all they could come up with was a big stinking pile of shit. The absolute best they could do that day was be a pile of shit. That’s wild. It’s nearly funny in an twisted, existential way. It’s also a way to realize that it was never about you. It can be both freeing and gut-wrenching to realize no matter how abusively someone acted, no matter how personal the insults they hurled at you (and personal literally too), it really was never about you in the end.

    Letting go is really hard though, real forgiveness requires a ton of self-love and internal validation, I think. I don’t know if I’ve fully done it. In the meantime, you gotta be kind to yourself. You’re as worthy as any fucking one else.

    I love you so much CQ for your beautiful words on forgiveness. Thank you.

  7. Sarah Cummings says:

    It’s not easy to forgive someone but we gotta learn the process. This is the only time we can free ourselves from emotions of anger, insecurities, and revenge. 🙂

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