Forgiveness is tricky. Every person I know handles and thinks about forgiveness differently. For some, going back to normal and disassociating from feelings altogether is their form of forgiveness, while others have to work through the issue verbally (sometimes several times) in order to “let go” of the feelings of being harmed. At the end of the day, forgiveness is difficult because we naturally want to protect ourselves from being hurt and from feeling like a fool. For “little things”, this can be simple. For bigger things, like failures of trust, it can be a whole lot harder and complicated.
For me, I struggle with forgiveness when the the person that hurts me is one that I care about and that I don’t want to end the relationship with. Unfortunately, the fastest way to end a relationship is to fail to forgive. I, along with many others, mistakenly believe that if I hold onto my hurt and keep my guard up and don’t allow myself to fully trust the other person, it will keep me from being hurt again. This isn’t true, but it is hard to change the thought process. I struggle with it regularly.
For me, failure to forgive is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It just hurts me, and I still do it at times.
Forgiveness, in many cases, requires some boundaries and limits to be placed around the relationship. If the person you are attempting to forgive has no desire or plan of action for change, and no desire to be vulnerable to you to support and hold them accountable for that change, forgiveness can usually only come by ending the relationship. This way, you can “let go” without fear of a repeat. If the other person allows the relationship to take responsibility (both parties) for changing the behaviors and thought processes, forgiveness can occur as a team effort and relationship strength building exercise. Both parties must be willing though…and committed.