Forgiveness (of both self and others) is the most powerful spiritual tool we have, and it is accessible to all of us. Forgiveness is synonymous with freedom, one of the most important conditions for happiness.
Although forgiving someone (or ourselves) can happen in an instant, my experience is that it is usually a much more lengthy process requiring great patience, trust, persistence and prayer -- more like peeling an onion or a lotus blossoming than a lightning bolt.
Sitting there at the kitchen table covered with coffee cups and an ashtray full of cigarette butts, I began to slowly comprehend that working on my problems wasn't the same as healing them. "You didn't forgive him." Those four words changed my life.
When we forgive others, we let go of our anger, resentment and bitterness, and we free ourselves of a great emotional burden that keeps us stuck in the past, in a perpetual state of perceived victimhood long after having been victimized.
Forgiveness is for YOU. It's your liberation from the relentless re-experiencing of a hurt. It releases you from the gnawing feeling of ick you feel inside each time you hear the person's name or see their face.