This is My Forgiveness Letter—Why You Should Write One Too

Today is Yom Kippur and I’ve heard “I’m sorry” from so many people. But not from anyone who has hurt me deeply. And now that I think about it no one who has hurt me deeply has ever really apologized, ever.

Receiving an apology can be as cathartic and healing as providing one. For some, myself included, it begins the healing process, allows the hurt party to begin to let go and forgive. More than anything, it provides closure. Without apologies from those of my past, I carry the hurt, unable to receive closure and heal.

Today, I decide to let that hurt go, to give myself closure. They may never apologize, but that doesn’t mean I can’t forgive. So here goes, this is my forgiveness letter to all of you: the people that have hurt me and let me down.

Dear You—you know who you are.

I forgive you for dropping me, not including me, and not having my back because it wasn’t convenient for you.

I forgive you for flaking, forgetting and not respecting my time or emotions.

I forgive you for being passive aggressive and self-centered.

I forgive you for lying, spreading rumors, and not being considerate of my feelings.

I forgive you for the hurtful things you said and texted.

I forgive you for all the horrible things you did.

I forgive you for not reaching out when I told you how I felt, for trying to stifle and shut me up.

I forgive you for trying to sweep my emotions under the rug and excluding me after I was honest with myself and with you.

I forgive you for asking me to be someone I’m not.

I forgive you for so much even though you never said I’m sorry—most of you probably never will…

You don’t have to care, but I forgive you.

I will forgive, but I will never forget. I will grow. I will continue to move on. And I will tell you all reading this that there is something you can do.

You can listen. Next time someone asks to talk things out, let them talk. Let them say what they need to say so they can start healing. Be open to what someone has to say to you. If someone comes to you and tells you how they really feel about you, it may be hard to hear, but it’s not about you. It’s about someone who finally found the courage to tell the truth. Don’t hurt them further by not validating their feelings. Let them start healing. Listen, apologize, and give them closure.

Give them the chance to speak their truth. If they call, pick up the phone. If they write you a letter, answer it. If they ask to talk in person, make the effort and let them talk. It’s probably harder for them than it is for you. Don’t continue hurting them after they have already told you how much you’ve hurt them. Don’t continue assaulting them with your words and actions after they admitted to you that your words and actions have been hurtful. If that is the last time you talk to them it very well may be the best memory they have of you.

So to all of you, I forgive you for me. Because even though you will probably never read this, I am moving on. I am healing. I am a work in progress.

Is there someone you want to forgive for you? If so, consider writing a forgiveness letter. I realized today, Yom Kippur, as I was reaching out to friends and family, apologizing for my words and actions, that I couldn’t force anyone to apologize to me just because it would make me feel better. So I decided instead to forgive them through a letter. As I finish writing this I feel a weight lift off my shoulders. I feel the bad thoughts float away. I am not done with the bad memories and residual pain, but right now, for just a moment, I feel lighter. I feel better about myself. Maybe you will too if you give it a chance.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments sections below and don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to talk. I am here to listen.

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Until next time,

Leah Pinkus

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