DEAR HARRIETTE: I have decided to turn a new leaf, as they say. I realize that I have been holding a few grudges against friends from many years ago, and I don't think it's worth it. I cut a few people off because of specific things that occurred in our friendships that really upset me. While I thought they were legitimate at the time, I don't care much anymore. As I am thinking about what I want to do, I am uncertain as to how to re-enter any of these friendships. I have forgiven, but it is impossible to forget. How do you let a friend back in if you feel that he or she has betrayed your trust? Can you really be friends again? -- At the Friendship Door, Dallas
DEAR AT THE FRIENDSHIP DOOR: Forgiveness is one of the most powerful spiritual practices, in that it releases you from the bondage of your intense negative emotion as it also releases the person in question. Forgiveness does not require that you allow a person back into your inner sanctum, though. I believe that people must earn entry to your heart. They must prove that they can be sensitive in the ways that you need and appreciate. They must have the capacity and desire to be thoughtful and caring about you when needed. They must be honest and tender when sharing their input. If these people can prove to you that they are capable of and interested in stepping back into the sacred space of your heart, only then should you allow them in.
For now, you can release all negative feelings and even reach out to your former friends to share your loving thoughts. You can even get together with them, but don't become so chummy that you forget that they no longer reside in your inner sanctum. Only open that door to those who are deserving of entrance.