I don't believe we're meant to forget. I believe we're designed to remember painful experiences for a couple of key reasons
- So we can be conscious of our behaviour which led to our pain so we don't repeat it, and
- So we can acknowledge progress. Personally, I've come a long way from the selfish young depressed alcohol dependent gal I once was. While not being able to forget my past can be a little painful at times, the comparison between now and then is exactly what tells me how far I've come. It also tells me how capable I am when it comes to evolving, which includes evolving even further
Of course, this applies to others; we learn to care for our self better through remembering and learning from another's destructive behaviour towards us and we can see how much a person's evolved through significant changes. We can acknowledge their reformation
Forgiveness is definitely less straight forward in its processing. While memory is simply a way of computing or processing past experience, forgiveness can involve great complexity and emotion. From my own experience, I have found the process of forgiveness to involve denial, anger, bargaining, deep sadness and acceptance, which are actually regarded as the 5 stages of grief strangely enough. For some, forgiveness is a kind of grieving process. The acceptance stage indicates we've finally let go of something, released it. The question becomes 'What are we be challenged to let go of?'
Letting go of the anger or the intolerance regarding someone's intolerable and careless behaviour offers us the chance to focus on how thoughtful we actually are when it comes to the emotions and care of our self and others. Here, we acknowledge our own ability. Letting go of a future we imagined with a particular person offers us the gift of finding a future with someone who knows how to care deeply and thoughtfully. With such a person in our life, we learn we are easily lovable, easy to care about and, without a doubt, deeply valuable. We cannot come to know our self in this way without the right person or people to show us. In fact, we may never have been shown, in the ways that leave us without a doubt. Without the ability to let go, we deny our self the chance to see our self as someone incredible.
If your are left questioning your value, would you consider it is because you have chosen the wrong person to show it to you. In searching for 'Mr Right', your memory (of 'Mr Wrong') is what leads you to recognise him.