The phrase “Forgive and Forget” has been with us for centuries. It is the cornerstone of many childhood fables and religious parables. At its core, the idea has great value for us… The truth is that holding on to pain, trauma and bitterness will cause each of us more harm. Learning to let go can be a huge step in your phycological healing process.
However, the phrase is often co-opted by abusers to help perpetuate the shame, anxiety and guilt they need to control and manipulate people.
This “two-edged sword” is often then reduced to uselessness and rendered ineffective. A skilled manipulator can have you tied in knots, lost in doubt, shame and completely frustrated. How can you apply a “golden rule” when it keeps being used against you?
First, you need to recognize that it isn’t a rule. It’s a guide, and that it is possible to forgive someone, and not forget that they hurt you, especially if it was done with malice. In a case like this, forgiving is the for you… To forgive yourself, not the abuser. You will likely need to remember the lesson and practice forgetting that person entirely and remove them from your life. (Especially if they insist that it’s your “duty” to forgive them and forget the injury.)
The second thing is to recognize that you are not alone… No matter what you are being told. If you feel that you have been wronged, and it’s not fair to be asked for forgiveness… then don’t do it! When you feel this kind of pressure, it’s probably time to seek some outside help and advice. Try to find an un-biased friend, religious leader or call a local domestic violence shelter (even if no physical violence has occurred.)
Just talking about your issues with someone can really help clarify your position and options. If you still don’t know who to contact, reach out to the National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, any day, 24/7.