Forgiving, forgetting, and being healthy emotionally CAN BE DIFFERENT THINGS.
Too many people seem to be of the mindset that you forgive the other person for their benefit… when infact it is an act you do / give to yourself.
Something I learned when I was in my 40s.
So for example… I have forgiven people who have done terrible things to me, or against me over the years… even tho they perhaps have not changed their thoughts, opinions or motives towards me.
I have forgiven the Mother who neglected me as a child… because I realize that in “her world” (she has a mental illness) she did the best she could at the time with what skills / coping methods / beliefs she had at hand. NOT that I agree with any of that, or WHAT she actually did. Just that she didn’t know any better
Does this mean that I have to go out of my way to be nice to her… or interact with her? NO
I have forgiven my Ex Husband who abused me, and dragged me thru a nightmare of a Divorce when I had enough. I came to realize that he suffered our whole marriage with issues that I was unable “to fix”… Low Self Esteem – Self Loathing – Depression – and Alcoholism. I didn’t cause these issues, they were always there… they just manifested themselves in different ways in our relationship over the years. Again, he did the best he could with what skills / coping methods / beliefs that he had at the time (nothing of any quality in my eyes… but it was what it was). I obviously couldn’t cope… so I eventually left.
Does this mean that by forgiving him, I’ve forgotten all that has happened ? Or that I am not still a bit angry in some ways (afterall our family is now divided). NO
BUT what both these examples mean, is that by forgiving them because they were guilty of something they did based on the facts that they didn’t KNOW ANY BETTER means that I can move forward in a healthy way.
I do not have to embrace my mother, or my Ex. I don’t have to be in their presence if I do not wish.
I AM AN ADULT… and as such I can make decisions about my own life… decisions that impact my own well-being.
So, if that means I decided to forgo the family reunions, and other pleasantries… and the interaction… then so be it (YES it can be difficult)
If it means avoiding the nastiness, fighting and things that make me upset for the long term… then so be it (can be somewhat easier… and perhaps make the other option easier to handle)
If a realtionship is TOXIC / unhealthy it is very mature to let it go, rather than feel obligated to continually doomed to repeat the pattern.
Because in the long run, the person I will spend the greatest amount of time in my life with and trying to understand / reconcile with… well is myself.
To be at peace with oneself is the ultimate
No need to forget the past… but it is wise to learn from it.
Hope this helps,