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By ad_ho On 04/06/04  

How do you forgive someone? What if you are really hurt? Do you just think, I do not want to hold onto these feelings anymore, and let go? The topics I have read on this suggest it is just that easy, but I am having trouble.

Have you been able to forgive someone that has 'done you wrong'? Any stories (can be vague) would help.

By valagator On 04/06/04  

I hold a black belt in grudge holding. I really find that I make myself mentally ill or physcially ill by remaining mad at someone.

I guess 3 years in therapy has helped me just get past the anger I had held for certain people in my life.
there is no easy way to stop feeling. What I did was just decide to either forgive that person or cut them out of my life completely. Time also helps heal wounds.

If you are angry at someone and you have to deal with them on a continual basis the best thing I would suggest is to clear the air, get it out... talk to them.. hell shout at them... but communicate.. and if that goes nowhere just realise that it takes more energy to hate/ remina angry than it does to just let the matter rest and move on. I spent years hating/ ruminating in bad feelings....

By Katrin On 04/06/04  

Heh..."black belt in grudge-holding" - that would describe my husband. The only sulkier people I've ever met are the rest of his family.

I'm a bit of a grudge-holder myself. If someone's done me wrong, it can take a long time before I let it go. Forgiving them, to me, seems like saying "it's okay that you did that terrible thing, and there will be no consequences, even if you continue to do it again and again." There are a few people (very few, fortunately) that right now I can't imagine ever forgiving - though there's always the possibility that will change.

Usually though, after enough time has gone by, I just no longer have such strong emotions about people who have wronged me. I can say "yeah, whatever" and think about them without feeling hurt. That's what I think of as forgiveness - it's not something you can will to happen; it only comes with time.

Some specific real-life things that have induced me to forgive someone:

1. I learn that the person has done much worse things to other people - the way they wronged me pales in comparison. I feel grateful that I wasn't hurt worse, and know that they have to answer to those others for what they did.

2. Someone else does something worse to me - how the original person treated me pales in comparison. Not an experience I'd ever like to repeat, but it worked.

3. The person dies. Nothing can now change the way things were, so I might as well get on with my life. This happened to me recently - my gripe against the person was pretty minor, but it feels good to let it go and remember the good things instead.

By nicegirl512 On 04/06/04  

To me, forgiveness is synonymous with moving on. The religion we were raised in puts a huge premium on "forgiveness" and puts down strict parameters for it, but I have come to the opinion that it's OK to be angry at someone (as long as it's not destructive to you and you don't perpetuate the cycle by trying to hurt them) when they've done something bad to you. Feelings are real, legitimate, and should be acknowledged. People aren't "perfect," nor should they be expected to be and then add feeling guilty for not forgiving on top of being hurt/angry.

When enough time has passed, your anger/pain will too. Whether that is a state of forgiveness or one of healing is a matter of terminology, I think. There was a girl in junior high who just *hated* me for some reason, and absolutely tortured me. Every day she would tell me how ugly I was, how terrible my hair looked, that sort of thing. When I got a cold sore I was terrified of what horrible thing she was going to say to me about it. I was hurt for a long time (we're talking *years*). Now I am just puzzled as to why she took such a dislike to me. I bear her no ill will (I haven't seen her since then either, so maybe that helps) because I just don't care and I'm sure she had her insecurities motivating her. Her actions have absolutely no impact on my life at this time. I don't know if this is forgiveness or just moving on. The effect is the same, though, one of letting go.

You can't expect to be able to just let go of something lickety split. The pain has to subside before you can put it behind you.

Another thing is that it's not all-or-nothing. If this is someone in your life for better or worse, like a family member, I think it's possible to simultaneously love them and be angry with them for hurting you (unless it was something serious enough to sever the ties). You don't have to let go of their *behavior* to love them as a *person.*

Knowing your background, I'd say you should examine why you want/need to forgive the person. A sense of duty or obligation? That not forgiving makes you a bad person? Don't look at it through the lens of religion, look at it from a psychology perspective. Is your anger legitimate, justified, healthy, constructive (i.e., will help you protect yourself in the future)? Is the wound still very raw? You're not a bad person if you can't let go of it right now!! Don't put pressure on yourself to achieve the impossible.

If enough time has passed that you feel it's time to let go, try looking at the situation from the other person's perspective and see if you can find what motivated them. This might help you understand their behavior, which helps you see that it was not about you but about them, which helps you let go.

By jtsang On 04/06/04  

you should forgive someone on your own schedule.
Once a friend of mine told everyone not to go to a birthday dinner planned for me and her, i found this out when my b/f at the time called me and said it's just you, me and the organizer, everyone bailed, and then i called a friend and she said that a had told her that no one was going. I guess you should know that the organizer was her ex and he really just included her b/c her birthday was 5 days away from mine, it's one thing to say you don't want to go, it's another to uninvite everyone and then go out with them at a separate gathering.

I was mad. She called to apologize and I told her that i was still mad at her and needed some time. I wasn't ready to absolve her of her guilt, as she was being a really crappy friend. I eventually forgave her, but I was angry for a while and I even resented the fact that she tried to call me and get me to forgive her so she could feel better...
eventually i didn't feel angry at her any more, but that happened on my own schedule, i suggest you do the same. If this is really causing you angst i suggest you speak with a therapist, but if it's just a case of I'm mad at x and everyone's giving me grief about it b/c they think i should be over it, i guess you just have to ignore them and get over it at your own pace.

hope you feel better

By teriyakipuck On 04/06/04  

I really think that "be the change you wish to see in the world" is something you have to try to do. Oftentimes it is the hardest thing. Loving your "enemies" is the hardest thing to do considering that it is painful and goes against the basic human condition.
I really believe that everything happens for a reason, which is the main reason I can forgive my ex BF. Long story short, my SO of 6 years who I never had a doubt in my mind that I would marry, had my "friend" move in with us. He started cheating on me in my own home! and when I would get worried about them he would accuse me of not trusting him, so I backed off. and then I came home early one day and caught them. He ultimately chose her and kicked me out. She was already living in our home, so she was already "home" and I had to leave immediately. So I no longer had my best friend, a home, or my other friend. My life was shattered. She will not let him talk to me because she is jealous of me and she will never get over it.
I, on the other hand, went through a dramatic transformation. While I thought my life was over, and was in the most intense emotional pain I could bear, I healed after a few months. I didn't think I could heal. But I did. And the hardest thing to do was forgive him. No, the hardest thing to do was forgive *her*. I did it for religious reasons. I really think that the only reason we are here on earth is a test to see if we can love - through anything. It is hard and that is why life is hard. The sheer difficulty of it and the pain means that it is transforming you mentally and emotionally. We grow from pain, that's why pain exists. Yes, I was wronged. I was hurt in the worst possible way. And I still try to be friends with him although nothing is the same. Only time could heal it. But when it comes down to it, EVERYTHING happens for a reason. So you might as well not make enemies in the process. Love one another. Sounds cheesy, huh? But what is bad? Hate. Right? And love is good, right? What is your favorite kind of love? Unconditional. So pour it out and you will be doing the right thing. But it's hard... but it doesn't ahve to be painful.
Sorry about the longwinded story but it is something very important to me and maybe it will help you. Just know that it IS possible to forgive if you feel it is important. It does not mean what they did is "okay." Otherwise there would be nothing to forgive. You don't have to give them a second chance, either. But you can still accept that they made a mistake, they are human, and they weighed their option in ways they thought best at the time. Even if they were dumbasses and threw their own life away. Not to mention another's. If you are christian, just think of what Jesus did for all sinners (who have done worse things) and you will be doing something good. Otherwise, think Karma. Or think Gandhi. Either way, two wrongs don't make a right. I hope this helps and doesn't offend anyone with its religiousness! Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

By kittythedog On 04/06/04  


By SeraAngel On 04/06/04  

my so called friends from highschool treated me like crap in my last year of highschool, it was really hard. it has been almost 10 years and every now and then the thought of it still hurts but i don't have anymore anger to give. i've spent too many years angry and unhappy with how others have treated me poorly. i don't want to be surrounded by that kind of negativity and now that i have managed to "forgive" i am able to appreciate the things around me. it's not to say that you should be a doormat all over again. if i bumped into any of them on the street i would be civil, i don't think that i would rekindle any kind of friendship with them again but i'm at peace with what happened.

By Vikarious On 04/06/04  

I was just thinking about this today...

A really good friend of mine started taking advantage of my friendship. He knew we were good friends and just figured that I'd be there no matter what. He'd make plans with me and CONSTANTLY cancel (I'm not 90%of the time). I was SO frustruated with it and couldn't understand how he could look at me and tell me how much I meant to him and then blow me off like he did.

One day I had just had enough. I had been hurt too many times and it was causing more grief dealing with it than it would just to say goodbye to him.

I haven't talked to him in about 5 months and people keep asking me about him. My mom asked if I was going to carry this grudge to the grave and I told her that there is no grudge...there's no friendship between us anymore so I can't actually be mad at him. He's just nothing to me. PLUS, the fact that he's made NO attempt to contact me or apologize for what he did. (There were other things than just the cancelled plans.)

Anyway, today I started thinking that maybe I should call him. Just let things go and see if we can be friends again. But then I thought "what happens when he does it again?" How many times do I forgive someone for the SAME DAMN THING? And how pathetic do I look going back to him saying "I'm sorry I forgive you for all the thoughtless, stupid shit you did to me."

Yeah. I'm a grudge holder.

But, in this situation I definately think he's the one that needs to make ammends and apologize. I'm not wrong about this.

I know that's long winded and probably confusing, but...maybe it'll help?


By jtsang On 04/07/04  

I don't think that's a grudge that you're holding, he's just a bad friend. A friendship is a two way street and there's only so many times you can give and give and the person can take advantage of that. the same thing happened with a friend of mine and that friend above whom i mentioned. We'll call them a and b. A said she'd make alot of effort and call b, every week, arrange hang outs and just chat. She began to notice that when she moved farther away, she would be the only one who called, so she did a test, she didn't call b and it took b something like 2 months to call her, and then it was only b/c b wanted something, so a stopped calling b and etc and eventually wrote her off as a friend, then when b broke up with her boyfriend c, who was good friends with a, b was calling a, what can i do to make things right with c? etc, but when they were finally broken up (she broke up with him ultimately) a never bothered to call b and b never bothered to call a, and a told me this story of why b is a bad friend, and i have noticed the same thing in our friendship, i haven't cut her out totally, but in the last few months, her only communication to me was a mass email about how she didn't get into grad school, and when i sent her an e card to say how i was sorry and she'd do fine next year, she didn't even write back to say boo...that's some people for you, they don't try, so it's not a grudge if you don't call them, it's them being a bad friend.

anyway that's my take on it, maybe b is an extreme example...


By Amelia On 04/06/04  

Your act of forgiveness has nothing to do with the wrongdoer. It does not release them from the guilt and karma of their wrongdoing. Forgiveness releases -you- from their act. It shows that you are trying to move up and beyond that pain and stop making it a part of your life. That's my take on it, anyhow.

By stinkycretingrl On 04/07/04  

amen. i totally agree with amelia. i think the onus to forgive comes from a desire to cease hurting oneself. each time one thinks back on that event to be forgiven there is pain. once one wants to forgive and does actually forgive, that pain is muted by the knowledge that you are no longer their victim. most people i know who are unable to forgive are held hostage by their various betrayals, though they happened long ago. i don't want to be a hostage to the creeps in my life. i want to be free of them forever.

By lulabelle On 04/07/04  

"Forgiveness releases -you- from their act."

Amen to that.

If you walk around holding a grudge, you're still allowing those people to hurt you and to keep on hurting you every time you think about it. Let it go. It's a waste of your time. Life's just too short.

By ad_ho On 04/07/04  

Thanks for all your thoughts.
The thing is, I want to forgive the person, but I do not want to seem like I am just a 'doormat.' (nicegirl512 will probably understand).
On the other hand though, I just want to forget anything ever happened and have everything be 'normal'
Obviously I am confused, maybe I do need to visit a therapist.

By Tamka On 04/07/04  

I have always wondered at this myself.

There are a few people-relatives-who I haven't had any interaction with for many, many years. Some family members see this as a 'grudge' and me not 'getting over it.' I'm not sure if they are right.
I don't wish those I will not speak with any ill-will, I just refuse to have vile, mean people in my life. Though if I do think about the terrible things they have done, I can become very upset. But it takes effort for me to think about them, so I suppose I have moved on if not actually forgiven.

Or maybe this is forgiving without the forgetting part?

What I can't stand are the people who constantly say, "you need to just forgive them and move on." Like it's the simplest thing in the world. If it were so easy, wouldn't we all just forgive? Who really wants to walk around angry all the time?


By whywhyzee On 04/07/04  


I really enjoyed your words on forgiveness. Rather inspiring, actually. Thank you!

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