In the final episode of season five of Arrow, Slade says to Oliver that he “suffers from survivor’s guilt”. After this, Slade says that he can’t get over the death of his father and that he needs to forgive himself.
Confused, Oliver asks what he needs to forgive himself for, to which Slade replies “you blame yourself for your father’s suicide and everything that has gone wrong since.” He follows this up with “you need to forgive yourself for your sins.”
Back To Reality
In case you haven’t watched any of this series, this is someone who has gone through a lot so it’s not a surprise that he carries a lot of guilt and has a lot that he needs to forgive himself for. The trouble is that as he is busy “saving his city” he hasn’t had a lot of time to tune into himself and to do this inner work.
Now, even though this is a series that is based on a comic book and is, therefore, not real, what this character goes through, along with the others, is very real. When it comes to survivor’s guilt, this is something that absolutely anyone can experience and they don’t need to have a father who committed suicide for this to occur either.
A Deeper Look
This is something that someone could experience if they had an experience where other people passed on and they are the only ones left. Their experience is then going to match up with this term.
However, this is also something that one could experience if they are still in good health after an experience and other people were badly affected by what took place. They are then not the only one who has survived but they are the only one who hasn’t experienced long-term harm.
A Heavy Weight
This may have been something that happened a few months ago or it could have happened many, many years ago. But, regardless of how long ago it was, one will carry a fair amount of guilt and shame.
Due to what they believe about what happened and the feelings that they carry, it might not be possible for them to be happy or to experience success. Ultimately, they will believe that they deserve to suffer.
A Miserable Existence
Ergo, anything that would change their mood or bring their suffering to an end is going to be pushed away and rejected. Or, if their state or circumstances do change, it probably won’t be long until they go back to how they were before.
Although their behaviour won’t make sense, it will be a way of them to make up for the fact that they are still alive or in good health and not to betray this person or people. They won’t be dead or in a bad way, so they will both consciously and unconsciously do what they can to live a life that is not worth living.
They are then not going to kill themselves, unless they do; they will slowly kill themselves. If one is not aware of what is going on, they could come to believe that someone ‘out there’ is holding them back.
The people in their life might also come to the same conclusion, with it not occurring to them that one is unconsciously causing their own destruction. Whether one is aware of what is going on or not, it will be essential for them to forgive themselves.
An Important Process
What took place won’t be their fault and, even if they did play a part in what happened, blaming themselves is not going to serve anyone. It won’t help them and it certainly won’t help the person or people who were impacted by what took place.
One thing that one can do is to imagine that they are no longer here or have been impacted by something and to ask themselves: would they want another person to suffer for being alive or for being in good health? What they will probably find is that this is the last thing that they would want.
If one can relate to this, and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can take place with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
They will need to detach from the part of them that feels responsible for what happened and to give this part of them the chance to express itself. As while one may believe that they can’t forgive themselves, it will be more accurate to say that one or more parts of them can’t do this, and this part or parts will have taken over.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.