Recently, I had planned to do a blog on how being in a toxic environment can jade you, even when you are in recovery, and cause you to see things in an unhealthy way and react with unhealthy behaviors. Then I read Joleen’s recent blog at http://www.imaginehopecounseling.com/jwblog. She had done the work for me! She talks about being in a toxic environment and how that can cause us to act in unhealthy ways. Definitely one to check out. Once you read her blog, you can continue forward with this one and it will make more sense.
Her poor furry friend had been abused by his previous owner and been surrounded by unhealthy behaviors and a toxic environment. Once he got out of the toxicity, he was able to function better and have more healthy behaviors. This made me think of my clients that I deal with that have been abused physically, emotionally, or sexually. It also triggered me to think of my own abusers in my life- the pain it took to work thru and recover from their abuse and then how I worked thru my forgiveness of them. Many of my clients ask me- “How do I work thru forgiveness with this person when they are not safe to be around?” I then work with them, as I did in my own recovery, on how to forgive an unsafe person. You do the work within yourself and with God to forgive this person and accept that they were human and made mistakes. You make a conscious decision every day or when it comes up, that you have forgiven this person and are not letting this circumstance control you. “I have let that go and don’t need to go back” is often something my clients use to help with this. For me, I then give it to God and ask Him to heal my heart. My clients have found this helpful as well. Of course, this is a longer process than what I am able to describe, but it is possible to do it without confronting that person. I often use the following example to help my clients understand how they can still do this and keep a safe distance. I say to them: “If someone hurt your child, physically or sexually, and you knew that person was still sick and could potentially abuse, you wouldn’t allow that person to still be around them would you?” Do you need to forgive them? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean you have to put your children in harms way to have the child talk to the perpetrator about the forgiveness. That would be harmful to them.
In a nutshell, if you have someone you need to forgive but you haven’t because they are not safe, don’t let that stop you. You can still forgive them and find healing and peace within yourself without putting yourself in harms way.
Additionally, to piggyback Joleen’s blog- I think it is worth repeating from her blog- check your environment for unhealthy people, boundaries, and behaviors. Even those in recovery can appear healthy in one place but enter in the “toxic” environment and start acting in unhealthy ways.
Thank you for reading and thank you, Joleen for the great blog to spur further blogging in me.
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.