#AutisticJoy Accomodating Autism Family Opinion Sexual Abuse & Assault Surviving

Dear Autist: Forgiving Your Family? NOT a Cosmic Rule…

Forgiving abusers… as much as SOME therapists, pop psychologists, and self-help gurus insist on it…

Is NOT a Cosmic Rule.

Part of a series on Sexual Abuse & Autistic Life...

I do not forgive my family.

For ANYthing…

Even as I reflect a great deal on how hard having an undiagnosed autistic son or brother… in the Dark Ages before autism was known or understood… HAD to be for them.

Even as I consider the very occasionally conscious actions I sometimes took… knowing they could cause pain.

I can’t think of a single way that forgiving family would improve my life… Or theirs.

Forgiving abusers… as much as SOME therapists, pop psychologists, and self-help gurus insist on it…

Is NOT a Cosmic Rule.

G-d, I remember… in my twenties… the first therapist I revealed that my father had molested me… for years…

Speaking haltingly… in tears… struggling to stay present… to not dissociate from the pain and shame… this time…

She paused. Looked tenderly thoughtful.

Then cheerfully said, “You’ve spoken your truth. Now you must forgive him.” Then the kicker… “Or you’ll never be whole.”

What. A. Tool.

Took years to recover from her re-traumatization of me. Seven years… and a hospitalization… before I could trust another therapist after that one session.

AND… even if you examine the supposed “research” that indicates forgiveness is good for your health or whatev…

  1. You will find it will vary wildly by the extent and duration of the abuse.
  2. And depends on researchers’ sloppy, slippery-semantical operational definitions of “forgiveness”… such as self-forgiveness meaninglessly lumped with forgiveness of abusers.

To forgive… or not… a decision EVERY individual must make for themselves.

Not forgiving your abusers does NOT mean you are not a good person. Nor is it yet another social standard you are failing to live up to as a “bad autist.”

The pressure to forgive is not yet ANOTHER burden you must take up to please ANYbody.

I divorced my family 10 years ago.

Best decision of my life.

After six decades trying to gain their approval… And avoid their pathological, narcissistic disappointment…

AND surviving physical, verbal, mental, and sexual abuse at their hands.

Never looked back.

Never missed a one of them.

AND, afterward? Never had so much love and #AutisticJoy come INTO my life in my nearly 7 decades…

Once I realized I simply was NOT capable of meeting their expectations… which was largely not MY problem to deal with…

And started living my own… autistic… life.

I have known many people who have found great peace in forgiving their families. I applaud them! And am capable of understanding they made a great choice…

For them.

My choice…?

FIRST, spending a good number of years learning to forgive myself…

For the harm I did out of ignorance, or was never taught to handle…

And for simply not being the son or brother or nephew or grandson they hoped for…

While admitting to myself the harm that I understand I WAS responsible for. And when possible, seeking forgiveness from others for MY actions… as I’ve been able, without ending up on suicide watch.

Yet again.

I do not foresee a time when contact or reconciliation will EVER be possible with my family… and some others… based on our history.

Let them forgive themselves… if they see any responsibility.

Your choice may be different. I will always applaud you.

Good article on what forgiveness does not mean…

3 replies on “Dear Autist: Forgiving Your Family? NOT a Cosmic Rule…”

What you’ve said here is very true, and could apply to many forms of abuse within families (or in other situations).

I don’t know how you feel about this subject, but I believe our society makes an unhealthy fetish of forgiveness because of the cultural contamination of Christianity, which is all about forgiveness and redemption of wrongdoers and has very little to say about the rights or feelings of their victims. Very convenient if one happens to be an abuser in a position of power, as such a remarkable number of clergy are.

Liked by 1 person

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