NLQ FAQ: Why Do You Dwell in the Past ~ Why Don't You Just Forgive and Move On?

NLQ FAQ: Why Do You Dwell in the Past ~ Why Don't You Just Forgive and Move On? August 26, 2010

by Vyckie

Q: Why Do You Dwell in the Past ~ Why Don’t You Just Forgive and Move On?

Those of us who are sharing our stories of physical, emotional and spiritual abuse at No Longer Quivering are often accused of being bitter and angry.

I frequently receive emails encouraging me to “move on” ~ one writer told me, “You’re out! Good for you.  You deserve to be happy, so quit dwelling on past abuse and live and enjoy your life fully in the present.”

I understand this ~ and when Laura chose to stop writing her story here at NLQ because she didn’t want to rehash all the painful memories of abuse ~ and she saw that it was having a harmful effect on her kids ~ and she married Richard and wanted to focus on her new life ~ I was very happy for her.  I believe Laura’s example ~ of moving on to a new, happy life ~ is very powerful and inspiring.

Laura’s story brings us hope that the pain and turmoil of leaving an abusive relationship is not forever ~ it is possible to find happiness and not be always controlled and defined by past abuse.

The thing is ~ if we all “move on” then there will be no record ~ no warning.  Which is why I’m still here writing and doing what I can in my own way to make a difference.  It doesn’t mean that those of us telling our stories are bitter or that we are stuck in the past.  In fact, NLQ is all about the future.  We write so that the lives of many women which might otherwise have become hell on earth, will instead be free from legalism, self-abnegation and abuse.

Also ~ No Longer Quivering is still a relatively new website ~ so we’re all still in the process of writing our stories.  It takes time.  For instance, new writer, CherylAnnHannah has only posted two installments ~ so at this point, readers do not know how things have turned out for her.  As you read, keep in mind that those of us who are sharing at NLQ have been out for a while ~ we’ve had some time to process the abuse, to rebuild our lives and to move on.

Those NLQ members who are still in the midst of waking up to the deception of Quiverfull ~ the women who have only just begun to disentangle themselves from the mindset and the lifestyle ~ for the most part, they are only sharing as part of the NLQ community on the forum or in the chat room.  It’s much too painful ~ the wounds are still too fresh ~ to tell their stories publically.  Many are in the process of divorce or child custody disputes ~ they are not in a position to share their experiences on a high-profile site like No Longer Quivering.

This is not to say that all of us writing here at NLQ have our acts together, have experienced total healing and have found our bliss.  It’s a process ~ and each of us has our own timetable.  Sharing is often a part of that process.  Those of us who are writing our stories for NLQ are finding that the discussion which takes place on the forum in response to each installment of our stories can be quite validating and it really helps to process and find healing. I have learned so much from the women here ~ and it has really helped me to understand the dynamic of what we were doing as a family.

I believe that the more of us who are willing to speak up about the abuses of the Quiverfull philosophy and lifestyle, the harder it is becoming for QFers and their teachers to ignore our collective voice.

And for every email I’ve received suggesting that I leave the past behind and just move on, I have dozens thanking me for the No Longer Quivering website and forum.  Recently, I was talking to a volunteer counselor for the Take Heart Project ~ she told me that she was doing a web search for resources to share with her friend who couldn’t admit to herself that her husband is abusive.  She came across NLQ and started reading the stories and was able to use the info. here to help her friend to escape and start a new life of freedom.

That is only one of many, many such examples of women being helped ~ and that’s why No Longer Quivering and the Take Heart Project are here ~ not because we want to wallow in the bitterness of the past ~ not because we are unwilling or unable to move on ~ it is because we’re now living in freedom and we are making peace with our pasts by helping others to avoid or escape the QF/P paths which lead us to heartbreak and sorrow.

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  • Thank you Vyckie for sharing this. I cried when I read it because what you said has been on my heart for SO MANY long months. You are such a truth-speaker. I could not have said what I have been processing nearly as well as what you just said above.

    I wrote a story on forgiveness on my blog recently, I guess you writing this just encapsulated this whole struggle for me. I get accused of not moving on. People think that I am miserable, but that’s simply not the case.

    And for every person, just like you said, that tells me to move on, sister! I get pounded with more emails and supporters who tell me to keep on, keepin’ on.

    So thank you. I am so glad that God put me in your path~ you have been such a source of encouragement and support to me.

  • There are people out there who mistaken forgiveness to mean, “Never speak of what was done to you.” Many of those people are just uncomfortable with raw emotion…and may be feeling guilt over the pain they may have caused others by promoting the QF lifestyle.

    Forgiveness just means you choose not to seek repayment for what was done to you. Speaking about what was done is a necessary part of warning others, as you stated. I am glad the people writing about their stories are doing it. Not only does it serve as a warning, it validates for me some of my own experiences (though not as severe as what the women who wrote here went through). My depression wasn’t my imagination. My misery wasn’t just a “bad attitude”. The environment was was in *was* bad for me. I am grateful for that confirmation.

  • Synesthesia

    Yeah, it’s healthy to talk about this. It will help other women in simular situations and it helps to heal.

  • Kristen

    For those who say, “Move on,” the appropriate response is, “I am. This is part of it.”

    “Don’t talk about it,” is part of the language of dysfunction. The language that enables abuse by sweeping it under the carpet. “Don’t talk about it,” is part of the impulse of denial that keeps those in dysfunction from ever getting free.

    Talking about it is, as Vyckie said, a necessary part of the healing process, and more. One of the best ways to move past pain is to find meaning in it. For many, many people, that meaning is found in becoming part of something that fights back, that helps prevent their particular pain from being experienced by others. If Mothers Against Drunk Driving had “just moved on,” there would be a lot more dead kids– and a lot more unhealed, grieving moms– than there are.

  • stbc

    One of the things I get from reading the stories on here is a message of hope and strength. So many people overcoming horrible abuse and isolation, learning to live in a world they were taught to fear and hate, it shows that people can rise above their situations and find a better life. I am in awe of the strength of the women who’ve lived the stories here and to instill the hope for a better future in others is a hugely noble reason to dwell in the past.

  • Carolina

    Longtime lurker, first time poster. I was never abused. I was raised in a loving, mildly conservative, Catholic home. I was a rebellious teen, but still loved and accepted unconditionally by my Hispanic parents. I have a healthy marriage, two kids and am done reproducing. I am firmly agnostic, and never stopped working after graduating college. I delayed marriage until age 30. In the ways relevant to this site, I have very little in common with the courageous women who write on NLQ.

    But I am also a liberal feminist who is concerned about the growth of extremist Christian fundamentalism. We live at a time when American women are enjoying the greatest freedom than at any other time in this country’s history. A young girl can grow up and be just about anything she wants to be. And yet, women in growing numbers are embracing a life more akin to 17th century Puritanism? This is very disturbing to me. Even more disturbing is the way the lifestyle is romanticized by shows like “19 kids,” which is what led me here. I am frightened by the aggressive spread of Christian dominionism across the country, as well as the growing political power and influence of its followers.

    I read this blog to better understand how this can happen to people. Many of the women are amazingly intelligent and thoughtful, and I am often shocked, fascinated and saddened by how they were sucked into QF. I am especially saddened by the stories of children, who have no choice in the matter, raised in these stifling, often abusive homes. I read NLQ to understand how I can protect my own children from being seduced by an extremist religion. Or how I can help someone who might be involved in a cult and wants to leave. I read to learn about something with which I have no personal experience but that is very real and for many, is a life only a few steps away from where they stand. (I live in an extremely conservative community where you can’t swing a cat without hitting an independent Baptist church or fundamentalist Christian inviting you or your children to their church.)

    You provide a wonderful service with this site, Vyckie. You seem so much more patient and gracious than I am, so I know you wouldn’t do this. But if I were you, here’s what I’d tell anyone who tried to discourage me in any way from tell my story or the story of others abused: Go f*** yourself.

  • I totally agree with you!

    Forgiveness does not mean you have to forget or you have to stay silent.

    I have a blog about my own cult experience and I hear current and ex-cult members and even members of other cults tell me to forgive and forget. Honestly, I want to make sure I can warn people about what they will really get into. And like you, I also found that people have supported and validated my experiences at the cult.

    It was all a bad dream. A very bad dream. And the pain still lingers.

    This particular cult made us devalue our emotions and suppress any emotion besides blind happiness and bliss. Anger was not allowed. Forgiveness always included silence. In fact, whenever our leaders said they “forgive” someone, it usually meant no one was to speak about that person ever again.

    Again, I neither want to forgive my cult nor do I want revenge for all the things they did to me, my wife and all the people I care about. But for as long as they keep doing their practices of exploitation, personal degradation and all-out greed, I will warn as many people about them as I can.

  • WakeMeUp

    Warning! I’m up front & harsh in my thoughts on this one:
    How dare anyone tell a girl to stop talking about her past! Why is it perfectly okay to have to set in a room full of women, who’ve had wonderful childhoods, who get to speak of it and then be told to remain silent about your own. Why? Because it doesn’t sound all peachy sweet and the truth might be exposed. How dare anyone come to me and tell me to get over it when I speak of my life with ATI! These women are not the least bit concerned in my eyes for those who have suffered. Instead, I see them as controllers and manipulators. Their main purpose is to shut us up so that the future and present day victim lives by their rules. The goal is to strip these girls down so that they are only a shell of who they once were.

    Roberts Liardon makes this point in Breaking Controlling Powers-
    “It never fails; in every church there are members who think everyone should obey them because they have been there the longest or because they are the most spiritual. Either such people will seek to dominated the leadership in every decision made or they will give their advice on every personal circumstance among the members.”

  • *two thumbs up*

    Writing is expression.
    Sharing one’s story is sharing one’s story. One’s story shared doesn’t even have to have a benevolent motive toward others; ie: to warn others, etc. It can simply “be.” It “is”…and that alone can be enough.

  • HH

    God, does this ever hit home. My family is eager to suggest “forgiveness” supposedly to help me heal, but it’s really because they believe forgiveness means you “put it behind you.” To them, “put it behind you” means you never bring it up again, because if you do that’s proof you didn’t really forgive.

    This conveniently silences the victim forever. The abuser gets a free pass, and the other relatives are spared discomfort and embarrassment.

    I hate the way people shove forgiveness at victims. That’s a gift you give AFTER a person expresses remorse. I disagree that a person “has” to forgive in order to heal. It’s in fact another form of abuse, since the victim is forced to do something they may not be able to feel – and what is said about people who can’t/don’t/won’t forgive??? They’re bad people! Yet another way to slap the victim down.

    And then there’s “don’t be a victim” as if victim is a dirty word. If something happened to you that you didn’t deserve, you’re a victim. Period. Like it or not. Oh, you can rise above it – but you’re still a victim. It’s not a dirty word.

  • yrba

    GREAT post. As is the article, above. Thank you. This applies to all kinds of victimization and the pressure to forgive *as a means* to healing. I think *forgiveness* is one possibility *as a result* of healing. Or not. it depends on the situation, the individual, and perhaps the degree of remorsefulness of the victimizer.

  • HH

    Thank you. To me, forgiveness is a gift that the victim can choose to give, or not, after an offender has expressed remorse. Psychiatrists have attempted to redefine forgiveness by claiming it “heals” victims. I believe it makes the victim responsible for their abuse and makes a mockery of forgiveness.

  • HH

    Exactly. People who haven’t been abused are uncomfortable hearing about it. That’s another tool that helps abusers sweep it under the rug. VICTIM IS NOT A DIRTY WORD.

  • HH

    Victims NEED to tell their story. They need to talk about what happened in order to come to terms with it.

    Victims need to hear three things: (1) It wasn’t your fault. (2) You didn’t deserve it. (3) I believe you.

  • HH

    That’s a redefinition of forgiveness and it makes a mockery of forgiveness. That’s another way of making the victim responsible for what their abuser did. Think about what it said about people who can’t forgive: There is something wrong with you, and you are a bad person. Good people have warm, accepting, forgiving hearts. You don’t, so you’re a bad person.