For me, managing forgiveness is a tricky dance. There are moving parts coupled with raging emotions and let's not forget you still have a life to lead on top of it all. It is no small task to sort through the muck and make clear decisions on how you want to move forward to a healthy life. You have been hurt, your psyche and emotional health sometimes severely damaged and all of this is further complicated when you do not receive an apology you truly believe you deserve.
I speak with great experience (not authority) in this area as in my life I have, in my opinion, been wronged by others. The pain, anger and disappointment were insurmountable as I was deeply hurt. Not only was I hurt by words and actions, but I was cast aside, a group decision was made and I was ousted. The situation continues, and while I am much better off without them in my life, yeah, it still stings. I don't hold onto the pain, but when it surfaces I work to release it. I do not want the negative feelings and emotions to ever guide me. I have learned that you can not stay angry at anyone, that is like "drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." The process of releasing the anger was hard and took significant time and is revisited all too often...like at the holidays or when something amazing happens I want to share with people whom I thought would be close to me forever. However, even though it takes time to process the feelings when they swell, time invested in letting it go is well worth it. I live with peace guided by love. And here is how I do it.
First, I have fully accepted what happened and whatever you are dealing with you can accept that as well. Yes, I was shocked, and even though a few years have passed it all still seems completely impossible. Sure, it does seem like a nightmare that individuals can act so recklessly allowing their ego to guide their lives with little regard for the emotional well-being of others. It is especially hard when their weapon of choice is passing judgement on your life, telling you what is wrong, or shutting you out because of choices you made that they may not agree are correct. When they can not see through their own context and blame you for their disapproval. But yes, it did happen, it is my reality. And whatever haunts you is your reality as well.
And the next step, is to feel the pain, in fact you really need to dance in it. My dear friend Susan would tell you to sit with it. Many of us have a tendency to run and hide from that which hurts or makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes we ignore the pain because facing the realization that it has been done to you and by whom is sometimes overwhelming. I've been there, and can tell you that you must simply face it. I promise, you will survive the reality check. Don't shelve the pain.
One of the hardest parts of this process is accepting the fact that while you may feel you are due an apology, you will probably never receive it. Typically we receive an apology and then say "I forgive you." But, in an extreme example, like the one I am facing, the apology never comes and yet I have forgiven. Most of us want an apology, feel some how we deserve it, but you may die a slow death waiting. Sometimes we feel that we can not start to heal until the other person states that they are sorry. However, you are turning tremendous power over to them by waiting for them to act first. You and you alone control your thoughts and actions. Accept the apology you will never receive.
Taking responsibility for you part. There are two sides to every story and more than likely you pushed back, and like me, you weren't on your best behavior. If you can, apologize, like I did. You might not be forgiven, and that is ok. When I apologized I was told I was not forgiven. Ok, people have free will, they can choose not to forgive you. When people make a conscious choice to not forgive you, they are showing their true character. You probably do not want these people in your life anyway. Ok, so maybe you really do, as I do, just not the version that includes them not being able to forgive...and that they are holding onto anger.
Surround yourself with support and love. Letting go of those who will not forgive you, and are unwilling to come to an "agree to disagree" arrangement should not be in your life. Their unresolved issues are toxic and you do not want that kind of energy circulating around you. But, you can walk a lonely path if you do not have a good support system. It can be hard, and lonely, and possibly never replace those who walked away. Concentrate on putting individuals in your life who will provide you with unconditional love and support. This close group should know of the pain, and wrap their arms around you when you need it.
Most importantly, let go of the anger and live with peace in your heart. Cycle back through the process when you need to and make sure your support system is there to catch you when you fall.