They caused the first wound, but you are causing the rest; this is what not forgiving does. They got it started, but you keep it going. Forgive and let it go, or it will eat you alive. You think they made you feel this way, but when you won’t forgive, you are the one inflicting the pain on yourself.
Whatever you do — don’t wait to forgive someone until they apologize, ask for your forgiveness or even acknowledge they have harmed you. If you are waiting for someone to acknowledge they hurt you, you could be waiting forever and it puts them in the power position, where you need something from them in order to move forward in your life. Closure is an act of sanity you bring to the table of your own healing, it is not a handout your abuser holds over you that you need. You have the power within yourself to find closure and healing, but not through bitterness, wrath and smoldering resentment. Forgiveness originates with self-love. Forgiveness is always and absolutely for you. Forgiveness has nothing whatsoever to do with how wrong someone else was; no matter how evil, cruel, narcissistic or unrepentant they are. When you forgive a person, you break the ties with their ill deeds that keep you in anguish. Forgiving breaks the unhealthy bonds between you and your abuser-victim relationship, and redefines you as an independent victor in your own life. Forgiving cuts the cord — freeing you — and leaves the abuser with the full weight of their deeds and fate, and whether they accept their responsibility or not, you are no longer dependent on their participation for your healing. You can hold no malice; you can forgive them, and you can then move on. Boundaries are an essential part of forgiveness.
“True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience.'”
— Oprah Winfrey
Your life will be so much better when you start trying to understand and have compassion for the people who hurt you — instead of just reacting in the heat of the moment and hurting them back. It is easy to hold a grudge. It is easy to blame. But these narratives are a perpetuation of the role of a powerless victim. When you hold grudges the victimization continues. It takes emotional bravery to forgive. It takes a huge determination toward self-care to let go of painful past events and not let them define your future. There is no self-love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without self-love. Forgiving another may be the ultimate act of self-love. Forgiving is an inward act that establishes outer boundaries; it is an undefeatable triumph of self-compassion that proclaims you are no longer a victim. Through forgiveness, you can quit suffering from the sins committed against you. By holding-on to resentment you allow them to continue having power over you. Forgiving takes your power back.
“Watch out for each other. Love everyone and forgive everyone, including yourself. Forgive your anger. Forgive your guilt. Your shame. Your sadness. Embrace and open up your love, your joy, your truth, and most especially your heart.”
— Jim Henson