“You shouldn’t hold a grudge. Just let it go!”
Forgiveness means you have another chance to start again. Often, that means evaluating the person who behaved hurtfully to determine whether the harm was intentional or accidental.
Well-meaning people frequently admonish those who have been seriously hurt by another person to forgive the one who hurt them. If the person did not normally behave that way, it makes sense to forgive. Everyone has reactions they regret and bad judgment once in a while.
But when the person possesses no empathy or compassion, when they not only refuse to take responsibility for their long-term pattern of damaging behavior, but they blame someone else (often the victim!) and play the victim themselves, victims of this kind of person find it hard to forgive. Because the perpetrator does not feel sorry or regretful, and often feel fully justified in their actions, the injured person cannot even begin to consider forgiveness.
They blame you when they’re the perpetrator.
So this situation will bind you to the hurtful person with the strongest of cords. You hold these cords in your hands yet you pull them taut every time you immerse yourself in the past. By holding onto your feelings of pain, anger, and betrayal, you give that person free access to your mind and your soul, your entire inward person. You give away your power to someone who wants to control you. As long as you go back into those memories, you live in the past and give up your sovereignty to someone who does not deserve it.
Separate yourself …
By seeking to forgive the person, you cut the cords that bind you. Acknowledge that the person who hurt you does not or will not understand how they have hurt you. You also acknowledge that they don’t care. You are not saying that it’s okay that they hurt you, or that it wasn’t that bad, or that it doesn’t matter.
Quite the contrary.
… and release.
By forgiving them, you release their hold over you. By forgiving, you show that you do not intend to keep diving into the bad emotional experiences that you have had with them. You won’t think about them at all. For anything! You sever emotional ties and remove their hold on you. You will no longer accept their valuation of you, nor will negativity from them be tolerated by you any longer.
Forgiveness in this sense means simply letting go: letting go of the pain, the memories, your history with this person, sometimes letting go of the person. It is not condoning, letting it slide, and saying it was okay to hurt you.
You are not to blame.
Forgive yourself for those times when you might have responded in a less-than-ideal way. Who wouldn’t have? You were not the problem; you never were the problem.
Ultimately, forgiveness removes obstacles to perceiving your relationship with this person clearly. Once you remove the obstacles, you will be free – free to choose to walk away from the person and your relationship with them, and to have a new beginning (but not with them). Forgiveness gives you a chance to separate yourself from the painful situation, and from the person who caused it – and if it takes separation to bring you peace and wholeness, then do it.