acceptanceFor a long time, I’ve been hurt emotionally by someone close to me. And, anyway, he is unwilling to talk about what happened or even admit that he hurt me. I want to let go of the pain and move on, but he doesn’t deserve forgiveness. What can I do?

When you feel forced between two unacceptable choices, Forgiving and Not Forgiving, you’re trapped. It seems like forgiving would mean what he did doesn’t matter and that he’s off the hook, but then not forgiving would mean that you carry around hate and resentment. Our individual counseling clients tell us that this feels like an awful, nightmarish Catch-22.

But in her book, How Can I Forgive You?, Janis Abrahms Spring blasts through these questionable assumptions about what forgiveness means and offers you another option: acceptance.

She writes, “Acceptance is a responsible, authentic response to an interpersonal injury when the offender can’t or won’t engage in the healing process—when he’s unwilling or unable to make good.” Acceptance is a task accomplished by yourself, for yourself. Through the process of acceptance, is possible to honor the full scope of what happened, to seek a just resolution but asking nothing of the offender, and to forgive yourself along the way. You don’t have to dwell in this place of pain forever and you don’t have to minimize it either. You can learn to be your genuine self, even in his presence. The ten steps of acceptance are challenging, but lead you to a place of health and peace.

If you or someone you know is struggling with forgiveness, we hope you forward this post. Individual therapy in Bethesda MD helps people challenge mistaken assumptions about forgiveness and learn to recover from profound emotional injuries–even when the offender is unwilling or unable to participate in the healing process.