The Celebrity Therapist

The Celebrity Therapist

How a Loved One in Recovery Has Taught me Forgiveness

As I walk this road of recovery with my loved one, I need to remind myself constantly to remember two very important words, “forgiveness” and”compassion”.  I discussed compassion yesterday and today compassion.

Forgiveness is a key component of my book, the  law of Sobriety, but is
also one of the most difficult things to do, especially when we have been hurt
very deeply. I came across an interesting article on the web recently about
forgiveness. It’s written by a psychologist, Raymond Lloyd Richmond, PhD, and
you can read it at

What made this
article so interesting for me was his definition of forgiveness: “Forgiveness
is the refusal to hurt the one who hurt you.” When I started thinking about
this, I realized it’s a very big idea in a very short sentence. Among the many
insights it includes is the fact that forgiveness comes solely from inside us.
We make a decision about how we are going to act, and that decision is
independent of how the other person acted. Forgiveness is not about whether
they apologize or we ever reconcile with them or even ever speak to them again.
It’s not even about what they did. It’s 100% about us and what we choose to do.”  I am learning that it is ok to identify my emotional pain but to not get stuck in the vortex cycle of the pain.  In other words, not to attach a story to the emotional pain.  I am learning to regulate that pain so I am able to stay centered and balanced even through this roller coaster ride.


By acknowledging the pain I am following Dr. Richmond’s two other very important points. The first is that you cannot
forgive someone until you have fully felt the pain they caused you. That’s
because until you really acknowledge all the anger and resentment that hurt
stirred up, you can’t really deal with it.

His second
point is that forgivesness  is not the same as letting someone off the hook for what
they did. Rather, it’s letting yourself off the hook–giving up the obligation
to take revenge. He says, “… the bitterness of a grudge works like a mental
poison that doesn’t hurt anyone but yourself. Seeking revenge or wishing harm
to another will, at the minimum, deplete your strength and prevent your wounds
from healing. In the worst case, the cold hunger for revenge will make you into
a victimizer yourself. Lacking forgiveness, you and your victimizer will be
locked together in the hell of eternal revenge.”


By learning to forgive, I let go of the need to point fingers or stay in the shame and blame game.  I am able to simply know my truth and move forward.  It gives strength to my boundaries and to know that no matter what, I will get through this no matter what.


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