Another site I write for said this was too personal for them to keep published. I think a Christian staff probably just didn't like it. So now it is here for you all to read.
Forgiveness by definition means concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense. So in the most basic way it means that we should not be angry over something that was done to us. There are many times in life when forgiveness is the wrong option. Many use it as a way of feeling like they did their part or that they were the better person. I feel that is simply an excuse to let someone off the hook.
In my life I have been through a lot. Sadly in my 28 years on Earth I have gone through things that many luckily never will. Starting as a child being raped by my father daily, my mother doing nothing, caseworkers showing up just to leave me there for another five years, police officers not connecting why a child would run away from home over 50 times in a year and my first husband who thought it was OK to toss around his pregnant wife. Not one of these people has been forgiven by me for their actions.
As an atheist I do not believe in some just after life where someone will ultimately punish those who have done wrong. Plain and simple is that what we do here on earth and the consequences we receive are all there is. For many that is a scary thought. Having to face that my father will not burn in some place like Hell for all of eternity sucks at times and I wish that just for the sake of it I could believe he would. However I don't. So my feelings of anger and resentment for the things he does are all I can do to punish him.
Now I am not saying that someone should allow their anger to interfere with their growth and development. I have spent that last 13 years of my life growing to become a better person. I don't walk around with a chip on my shoulder or feel ashamed for what happened. However anytime I think of my father, what he did to me, and what he continues to do to my mother I feel anger. I feel resentment because he took something from me that I can never get back.
For some reason many people seem to think anger is a bad thing. I am proof it is not. That built up anger is what makes me who I am today. It's why I tell my kids how much I love them, why I support local foster children, why I help my local shelters, why I turned out to be a good person. That anger will always be there. As long as that anger is not taking over your life then what's wrong with it? When my father finally dies it may lessen but I will never forgive. He took many years from me. Is that something you could forgive? Could you not be angry about something like that? Could you justify forgiving someone who did that to your child?