by Carol L. Meylan, LCSW
Dear Still Angry and Hurt:
I am sorry someone has hurt you so deeply. Forgiveness does not mean that you are letting that person “off the hook” and that you will forget what he/she did to you. The person may not deserve to be forgiven for the pain he/she caused, but YOU deserve to be free of hurt and sadness.
Forgiveness does not mean you have to reconcile or hang out, or even talk to the person who hurt you. When you choose to forgive the wrongdoer, you can still avoid him/her as a form of self-protection.
Here is what forgiveness means for YOU. When you continue to focus on your hurt feelings or the pain someone caused you, or plot revenge, you are giving that person power over you and your life. Forgiveness allows you to regain your personal power. Sometimes it takes time to recover from a bad fight or problem relationship and you may feel like you are trying to forgive but just can't. Maybe you even continue to experience negative consequences in your daily life because of that person's actions, and that can be very hard to forgive because you are constantly reminded of what he/she did.
At least you can make it your intention to try to forgive rather than making it your intention to get revenge or do something to hurt the person so he/she will know how it feels. Holding grudges hurts you emotionally and physically. Be patient with yourself and really meditate on the kind of relationships you want to bring into your life, and try to put the past behind you. Promise yourself that in the future you will pay attention to red flags early in relationships, and avoid and remove yourself from sketchy situations sooner rather than later.
By forgiving the wrongdoer, you are cutting yourself loose from him and setting yourself free from the pain he/she caused. Forgiveness allows you to stop replaying the hurt. Instead, you can focus on what will make you happy in life and go after it.
And ultimately, the best revenge is for you to move on to create a happy life.
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