Healing from family violence can be a painful, complicated, and confusing process. If and when we are able to forgive, do we ever really forget? Or, is there a healing power in remembering?

Remembering doesn't mean that we remain stuck in one place. For me, the true miracle of forgiveness is the ability to accept and make peace with the truth of the past.

Our history constructs our emotional self; therefore, our memories can be the catalyst to reconstruct our view of the world; to heal enough look at life through a new lens; for growth and for change.

For instance: Although my child abuse and family estrangement experiences will always be a part of me, today, they are more of a distant memory rather than a present reality. The most important part of that memory is not the abuse and estrangement itself - but rather all that I have learned and accomplished along the way – healing, strength, courage, compassion, and the pride of living a better life in spite of the past.

Rather than wasting my energy on trying to forget, I’ve spent my emotional currency on keeping myself safe, on healing - and then forgiving - but always I've remembered. My memories are a great reminder of just how far I have come.

Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting, or excusing, or giving up our safety. We move toward forgiveness when we have healed enough to experience some sense of peace.

Copyright © 2008 Nancy Richards.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy Richards is the author of "Heal and Forgive: Forgiveness in the Face of Abuse," "Heal and Forgive II: The Journey from Abuse and Estrangement to Reconciliation," and co-author of "101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Volume 2." Visit healandforgive.net.