Does Friendship Automatically Bring Forgiveness?


I have written before about friendship and how lucky I am to still have friends from a hundred years ago when we were pig-tailed girls in school but friendship can be a delicate construct. I started thinking about this after reading a recent post by a friend about how friendships are maintained and our expectations of them which is how I ended up writing about forgiveness – or not.  As I’m writing this on Good Friday, the topic is a timely one.  With all the hoo-ha surrounding it, non-believers probably think Christmas is the biggest event in the Christian calendar but it isn’t.  Easter is the big kahuna because without Christ’s Resurrection, there would be no reason to follow Jesus as he would have been just another dead rebel.  The whole point is that God sent his Son to forgive our sins and ensure our redemption so the whole concept of forgiveness is a ‘big thing’ and not only in Christianity. Buddhists believe that forgiveness is a critical step towards achieving a peaceful state of being and the Qur’an teaches that forgiveness is a superior moral trait.  “Turn the other cheek.” is the yellow brick road.  “Forgive and forget.”  But what if you can’t.  Forgive.  Or forget.

cs lewis quote

In 2010 I severed a friendship and even five years later I can still feel the disappointment and anger as though it were yesterday.  We don’t do things for our friends expecting to be repaid but I think it’s OK to consider any equal relationship a two-way street.  My friend’s life was always in turmoil.  When she discovered her husband cheating, I consoled her by phone from America, where I was living at the time.  Her next partner had a vengeful, bitter ex-wife so I was a sounding board for her frustrations and copywriter and editor for mountains of correspondence. Despite having a son together, that relationship ended and it was more commiserating and letter-writing as the miserable sod tried shirking his financial responsibilities in any way he could.  I suppose the rot started setting in when, as her son’s godmother, I was asked to be his sponsor at his Confirmation.  To reflect the importance of the occasion and because his mother had mentioned he was becoming interested in photography, I gave him a digital camera.  And this was years ago, before you could get them out of vending machines. I certainly wasn’t expecting a gilt-edged letter of gratitude but I thought I might at least get a phone call…. Nothing, nought, nada, zip, zilch, zero.  Am I belabouring the point?  Not even a bloody cup of tea after the ceremony.  Her choice in men was appalling and the next one was a certified narcissist.  More listening, more commiserating.  Then my father died.  And she sent me a text message.  Some of you will understand exactly why that was the straw that broke the camel’s back while others will wonder why it was such a big deal. It’s hard to put into words how totally let down I felt but there was now a trench in the sand that swallowed forgiveness whole and was never likely to throw it back up.


On the other hand, I have a girlfriend I have known since Kindergarten and I have forgiven her a myriad of transgressions, big and small.  When I became engaged, many moons ago, my American husband’s lawyer recommended that we get married as quickly as possible to start all the paperwork for my move to the U.S. and application for my Green Card so my first wedding was an intimate affair of only 10 people in a divine little stone church.  (We had the bigger, glitzier ceremony two months later so I have two wedding anniversaries – both of which I now manage to forget…..)  S. was supposed to be my bridesmaid and witness but not only was she late, thus missing the entire thing, she had the audacity to be upset because we didn’t wait.  My best gay friend ended up being my bridesman and I was as happy as a pig in mud.  But my husband was furious and where I laughed it off as a memorable part of the day, he did not forgive her for years after finally accepting that I really hadn’t cared and I wasn’t just saying that because we had been friends for so long.  And I think therein lies the difference.  By that time, S. and I had 29 years invested in our friendship.  That’s a lot of secrets and memories and laughter to lose.  It would be like excising great chunks of your past with nothing to fill the holes.

People suffer the most tremendous losses due to violence and yet extend forgiveness to the perpetrators.  They are obviously in some state of grace that I can’t begin to imagine.  The generally accepted position is that without forgiveness, you can’t truly “move on” but in my totally unprofessional yet totally eloquent opinion, I think that’s a load of horse manure.  I believe you can feel sadness, anger, disappointment and a kaleidoscope of other emotions and still lead a “whole” life. Sometimes not “letting it go” is fuel for a fire that changes everything.


It’s complicated.  I’m sure everyone has a story. Wait, is that the time?  Forgive me, I have to run.




About Daniela S.

I am, what is quaintly referred to, as "over the hill" - but just! Married to an American, I lived in Atlanta for 8 years then was very surprised by my son's creation and arrival one month before my 42nd birthday. We moved back to my beloved Sydney 12 years ago and it is now my absolute joy to be sharing both my deep and shallow thoughts with the known universe.

Posted on April 3, 2015, in Friendship and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. So agree. I wish I could be that awesome person who can forgive everyone… but I’m not. I think you just need to make peace with what’s happened and arrive at some level of acceptance. Then you close that chapter and move on. Easier said than done. Obviously.

    Love your posts. Look forward to reading them. Sorry I don’t always find the time to comment!

    • Thanks Nadia. I wanted to include a link to your post but I don’t know how. If it’s easy to explain I’m happy to do it. As to not always commenting – well you do have a few other commitments. We do what we can and our ‘friends’ understand.

  2. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid

    I totally get it. In recent years, I’ve found it easier to let it go (as in the bad feelings) and cut them loose. In my opinion, life is too short to have unhealthy relationships and rather than stewing on their wrongs, I prefer to focus on the friends I have and the happiness they bring. It’s not so much that I forgive what people may have done, but I just choose to move on and forget it, and them! You’re totally right about one thing, thoug, life is always so complicated!

  3. I also think as I’ve gotten older, I have fewer expectations of people and accept that not everyone thinks as I do so I’m more likely to shrug things off and say “it is what it is”. Thanks for the read again Sammie – Happy Easter! 🌺🐰🐣

  4. Oh we so remember that first wedding…S. Still talks about Geoff and THAT speech and she has had a thing about Angels ever since. Even to the point of never travelling without a small jade figure of an Angel in her bag. Truly, we don’t remember the wedding because of someone who didn’t make it, we remember it because it was the beautiful celebration that it was and you chose to share with us. Seems a shame (though understandable) to taint such memories with one goose who didn’t get the point!

    • Hard to believe it will be 22 years, come June! I still remember those faxes from Jeff on my desk every morning…. I assure you Robin, the memory isn’t tainted. I was so happy that day, nothing could have spoiled it. And I got Raff as my ‘bridesman’ so it worked out perfectly. I was a bit peeved afterwards but figured she was the one who missed out and I think it bothered her WAY more than it ever did me. All water under the bridge now. I hadn’t even thought about it until I was writing the post. Do you remember Paula? She’s the first one I talked about.

  5. I ended two decade long friendships last year because I felt that I was never given any respect. And in ending them, I was shown even less respect. It was sad and I didn’t want to do it, but frankly I’m happier now without them. I wish it wasn’t the case but I would be lying to myself if I said I wanted to still be friends with them.

    • I think it’s a hard decision to make but once it’s done, it’s a relief. It seems to me if they didn’t respect you, they couldn’t really have been friends. I hope you have found better people to take their place – and thanks for taking the time to read my post.

  6. It is very disappointing Daniela when as a friend you give, give and give again out of love and are treated with such carelessness and disrespect. I thought I had a wonderful friend but ultimately realised it was a very one-sided relationship. She kept taking everything I offered and when I was in difficult circumstances did not provide the support I needed, particularly after losing my father, having a nervous breakdown and being badly treated by her husband to whom I had also given so much. A very tough life lesson at the time for me but it seems you now understand having lost both your parents and the friendship to which you refer. Reflection on past treatment of others and by others helps us to understand life and ourselves so much better. La vita continua . . . Meg S

    • I cannot agree more with your first statement Meg.I had a friend and when she was involved in a relationship that was both delicate and which was never going to work, I kept her secret and listened whenever the hurt and frustration got too much. When she wanted to change careers I cheered her on all the way and commiserated when things weren’t going well. When she settled into a relationship, I couldn’t have been more happy for her and supported her through the ups and downs that happen in every relationship. I didn’t think of it as giving and giving and giving – it was just what friends do. I asked her to be the godmother of my child. In an unfortunate clash of events, whilst she was suffering through some terrible times, I was going through my own crisis and had no emotional reserves for anyone else. Perhaps my mistake had been in not telling her so. My friend then committed a serious mistake in judgement and made a decision that was not hers to make and that had major ramifications for my husband’s business. He was angry but not abusive but she refused to acknowledge that perhaps she had acted in error. The molehill became a mountain. She cannot have expected me to have sided with her, surely, against my husband who had always treated her fairly and with respect but I also believed, even though it was done with good intentions, she had overstepped the mark. To my dismay, she became distant and cold and made it quite obvious I was being cut away. I don’t know where she is now but sometimes when I pass the area where I last saw her, I wonder how she is but mostly I am sad that she never got to know her godson who shares her passion for music and singing, who loves theatre and has grown into a funny, smart, delightful young man. Indeed, life goes on …. “It is what it is.”

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