Literally, to forgive and forget means to stop blaming someone for something the person has done to hurt you and to stop remembering what happened but, do we ever really forget? No, I don’t think so. The deed is done. The scar has formed. The memory has already been stored in the brain. You can’t just erase all that. I think that to forgive and forget means having to suppress and dismiss any urge to retaliate based on the misdeed of an individual towards you. It also means accepting to carry the burden of pain caused by what such a person has done to you alone, without blaming the person anymore, whether they feel guilty or not. It is a really difficult decision to make and one of the most noble things anyone can do.
An apology on the other hand, is just like someone considerably unburdening themselves of the guilt they feel about something they did to hurt you. By apologising, they can get the burden off themselves and leave you no choice but to bear it alone. Initially, you both shared the burden. You had the burden of pain as the victim and the other person had the burden of guilt as the perpetrator. A perpetrator has to feel guilt before thinking of tendering an apology. Apologising means that they recognise that they have hurt you and feel guilty about whatever they did to you.
Let’s not ignore the fact that not all apologies are genuine and most are made because the other party is obligated by religion or societal norms to forgive and forget. Some people even intentionally hurt you because they already know how it would play out in the end. In the rule book, the perpetrator apologises to the victim and the victim is obligated to forgive the perpetrator simply because they have apologised. I still do not understand the logic behind that, except for the sake of inner peace and world peace.
Honestly, there is nothing fair about apologising to the victim. The only fair play is that we have all been on either side at one point or another in our lives. Even God knew we could not forget totally. He created us as intelligent beings. That is why there is a passage in the Bible that says that we should allow Him to take vengeance on our behalf. Forgiveness is a calling, not an obligation. We have to choose to forgive and not feel obligated or forced to do so.
The next time you’re about to tell someone to forgive and forget, think about these: Will you be there to work the person through their pain? If you were in their shoes, will it be fair to you? I am not against forgiveness but I’ll say that we should learn to give people time to get over whatever we have done to hurt them and not just expect them to move on immediately we apologise. Also, if someone hurt you, strive towards forgiving them for the sake of your inner peace because you are really the one suffering, not them. You unconsciously give them power over you when you keep holding a grudge against them.
Let us learn to be empathetic towards those who are hurt and bold enough to reveal their pain to us. Some scars fade in months, some take years while others never fade away. Everyone is different and we all deal with life differently, more so, most of us never get to have the same experiences. The pain of reliving unpleasant memories is hard enough. Do not make people go through the pain of loneliness and rejection simply because it’s taking them so long to let go. We all have a responsibility to protect those we care about, not only physically but emotionally as well.