22 answers

Is It Possible to "Forgive" If You Can't Forget?

I am taking a psych course (trying to better myself) and I was doing fine until the topic of forgiveness came up.
Seems the pat answer is to forgive because holding onto the anger doesn't hurt the other person, it just hurts you.
Ok, I get that. But if you say you forgive but you can't forget what was done, then have you really forgiven or are you just saying so. There are some past traumatic events that play like bad movies in my head. Sure I can tell the person I forgive them, but every time I remember the event I still have the hateful feeling. So, can you really forgive the person if you can't forget the trauma?

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A very special thank you to all the mamas who responded. I understand it alot better now.

Featured Answers

I recommend watching the lifetime movie "Amish Grace". It was about the horrible school shooting where the guy killed a bunch of little Amish girls. It is an amazing story of forgiveness, and shows how they all had trouble with it, especially since forgiving doesnt have to mean forgetting.

5 moms found this helpful

Forgiving someone is letting go of the power they hold over you, letting go of the anger that anchors you. I dont think you ever forget, but yes you can relinquish the control that memory holds on you.

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My pastor told a little story. he said if you hit me with a frying pan, I'll forgive you for it, but I'll always stand about a frying pan away from you! So to forgive is not to forget. You dont have to trust that person again or absolve them of responsibility. But forgiveness is a choice. It's not a case of forgetting the incident or even getting over it. You just choose not to hold a grudge or be angry at that wrongdoer. Sometimes that takes gaining a better understanding of the other persons motives or thought process when they caused the offense. If I can understand why they did it, it seems to help a lot. It also helps to write out all my hurt feelings in an angry letter and then burn it. It's cathartic to get it all out and it's freeing to burn it and literally let it go.

11 moms found this helpful

I recommend watching the lifetime movie "Amish Grace". It was about the horrible school shooting where the guy killed a bunch of little Amish girls. It is an amazing story of forgiveness, and shows how they all had trouble with it, especially since forgiving doesnt have to mean forgetting.

5 moms found this helpful

I actually think that what is meant by "forgiving" is not staying angry, not wanting a confrontation, not letting the event color your interactions...including interactions with THAT person if you CHOOSE to keep them in your life. Just....allowing yourself to move on and not let the event have any power over you anymore.

It doesn't mean that you don't stay wary with someone who causedy ou harm

5 moms found this helpful

ummm a tough one for sure.. My experience has been that when I truly forgive, I no longer have an "emotional attachment" to the situation even though yes, I still remember it... For me, it's how I feel about an experience that tell me IF the situation still affects me or not.. For years I hated a man whom when I was ten molested me. Whenever I thought about forgiving him, this anger would boil up in me and I 'd think forget you buddy, like I should forgive you for violating me.... (not that he ever was seeking out my forgiveness) ... then one day, YEARS later and after much self-help and introspection and when I finally learned what people meant when they would say, "forgiveness is for you. not the other person".... I wrote the guy a letter and told him how his molesting had affected me when I was a kid and changed who I was and truly whom I might have become. I also noted that despite all this, I was doing GREAT (which in fact I am) but felt it necessary to let him know that I no longer wished to have a silent bond of perpetrator to victim.... that said, I was releasing him to the past... (I said a lot more too) but that was the gist.

Mind you, I knew going into that situation I needed to not have an attachment to a desired outcome.. so to answer your question....
YES.. you can forgive and not forget..... The difference as mentioned is in the emotion and attachment.. To me, I think when you truly forgive, then a situation doesn't have the power over you it once did..

this is just my experience..

good luck with your class :)

3 moms found this helpful

I think that you can't really forgive if you do forget. Forgetting implies that the hurt/trauma/whatever is gone for both parties. Forgiving implies that the memory is still there, but no longer causes one person to feel malice towards the other.

How to do that, I'm not sure.

3 moms found this helpful

I believe that it's up to both parties to make things right. The person who wronged the other should make amends. It's interesting that when someone makes amends, it makes things all right.

You can come to terms with what was done to you. That's a personal journey and often includes looking at what you've done to others.

I've found that deciding to take that journey ends in success. And it's amazing how when I look at what I've done to others and I make amends to them, that the person who wronged me often makes amends without me ever making a move toward them. You get back what you give.

2 moms found this helpful

My best friend stole money out of my wallet in high school and was later found to have stolen money from the morning donuts sales that she and I sold together as well as from the our local high school restaurant and the teachers running it. As a result she was no longer able to sell morning donuts or work in the high school restaurant. I made up my mind that I was going to forgive her and continue our friendship. I will admit that the friendship was somewhat strained on my part, because I had lost trust. I no longer could leave my purse in her care while running to the restroom. I no longer felt comfortable with looking in my wallet for lunch money with her around, etc. We had been friends since we were toddlers because her grandmother lived on one side of us and her aunt on the other. Her parents lived on the other side of the block and often walked to the aunts or the grandparents house and would stop to chat with my parents along the way. We became fast friends quite young. Yes, her stealing from me was huge hurt to me because friendship is built on trust. I had lost that trust. Despite my decision to continue the friendship, things were never the same. We still check up on each other now that we are adults and visit occasionally and now that I am older, I no longer feel that hurt on those visits. I still would never leave my purse unattended while with her because I cannot forget the past. You can forgive even if you can't forget. Just don't put yourself in a situation that would allow the past to repeat itself.

I am not sure what happened in your past, but perhaps a counselor or a good Church could help you get past the hurt.

2 moms found this helpful

There are many things that I cant forget but I have moved past to have a better realtionship with the people that may have hurt me, so if forgiving is moving past and putting it behind you then yes you can forgive but not forget.

2 moms found this helpful

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