Memories form the narrative of our lives. They build the plot points of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. The irony is that the stories we tell are based on a thing that no longer exists: the past. Instead of living in the present and taking each moment as it comes, we remain chained to an illusion. Our memories act as guideposts for present experience, and inform our decisions and responses to others. The past, then, dictates the present.
For instance, if a childhood friend betrayed me, I might hold my adult friends responsible for that betrayal by not trusting them and judging them harshly if I become disappointed by them in any way. Rather than understanding that I have an unprocessed fear of abandonment that needs to be examined, I hold my friends responsible for my fear.
Or, if I struggle with shame, and an acquaintance says something that triggers it, I may judge him for hurting me. Rather than understanding that I carry unprocessed shame that is begging to be healed, I hold my friend responsible for my pain.
Or, if I grew up in an orthodox home in which my life was very restricted, I may judge women who dress in a way that I consider to be inappropriate. Rather than examining my unprocessed childhood anger, I hold women responsible for it by judging what they wear.
In this way, we hold others hostage to our pain. We blame them for history. History, though, is over. It is no more. It is a wisp of an idea, with no basis in our current reality whatsoever. So, when we choose to blame, we make a choice rooted in fantasy. This doesn't mean that the feelings inspired aren't real. It means that we are confused about their cause. If we can accept that our pain has been laying in wait all along, that it exists in order to remind us of the truth, and allow it to fulfill its physical expression within us, without judgement, we can change the world around us. With silence and breath, our pain will dissolve into our energy field and will fill the gaps that exist there due to our historic rejection of half of who we are. Allowing our pain will make us whole. If we have faith that pain is here to help us, we can refocus our thinking and learn to instantly forgive others. We can free them and ourselves from bondage to the past.
Genuine forgiveness is not a sacrifice of feeling. It is a sacrifice of blame. Forgiving another does not mean that we ignore our responses and pretend they don't exist for the sake of "making the peace". True forgiveness means re-directing our conditioning. It means understanding that the other is NOT to blame, that s/he is limited by denial as much as we are and needs as much help and love as we do, and that every circumstance is a new opportunity to look at the misguided beliefs that cause us to accept the stories that we tell ourselves in response to our pain.
We are not the Judge. We are the Exonerator. We must accept this role, and become willing to forgive, even, and especially, when it is difficult to do so. We must learn to go within, and heal.