As a kid, I remember when someone would apologize, my response would be something like "It's OK. no big deal. It didn't even bother me." I used to think I couldn't forgive unless I could say that. Today I see there is a difference in saying "It's OK." and "I forgive you." I found it helpful to define what exactly forgiveness means to me. Looking at my beliefs around forgiveness and then asking "How true is that?" helped me come up with a new way to see forgiveness.
I used to think: They have to apologize in order to get forgiveness. I have to accept that behavior in order to forgive. Forgiving someone is giving them a free pass. If I forgive, it means I can't be mad anymore and they need to see how mad I am so they know how hurt I am so they never do it again. If I forgive someone, I have to carry on like nothing happened.
Today I see forgiveness as a process. Things I try to keep in mind during this process is that forgiveness does not mean what happened was OK. I only have to accept that what happened, happened. It's in the past and nothing can be done to undo the past. Holding a grudge does not change someone else's behavior. Forgiveness is for me. It's releasing myself from the pain of having to carry this around any longer. I can forgive. It doesn't mean I forget and it doesn't mean the relationship stays how it was or that I even have to continue the relationship.