Dick Tibbits, commenting on Matthew 18:21-22, says, “Forgiveness is a process of healing, not a single event. This is especially true when the hurt is deep either physically or emotionally. By that I mean we don’t simply say “I forgive” and everything is better. Deep wounds take time to heal, and memories linger and need to be dealt with on multiple occasions as they continually come up in our thoughts. Each recalling of the event needs forgiveness applied again. With this in mind, Jesus told Peter that you may need to forgive this event not once, not seven times, but seventy times seven.
I do not believe He is saying that if a person hits you once, and then again and again with the same offence, you need to just forgive that person over and over again unendingly rather than remove yourself from that abusive situation. Rather, He may be saying that when you have been hit by someone, forgiving that person for the one offense may take multiple times of repeated forgiveness as the pain and memories continue to reoccur. The goal of forgiveness is to reduce the intensity and frequency of the memories, not to erase them.
Forgiveness is not forgetting; rather, forgiveness is remembering in a different way and from a different perspective. And that can take time. However, with repeated forgiveness, memories and perspectives do begin to change. And over time, the painful event will no longer dominate and control your life, but you will start to take back your life as you move through forgiveness, from victim to victor.”