I’ve been ruminating on the concept of forgiveness recently. Forgiveness has been tossed around in the media a lot lately, especially with the amended definition arguing that forgiveness is not permitting others to hurt you without consequence, but rather permitting yourself to let go of your anger at the perpetrator and use that energy in a more constructive way.
I went to a charity fundraiser performance by a medium the other night. Among many fascinating concepts that were introduced to me that evening was the idea that, from the “other side”, there is complete forgiveness in all relationships, because of the spiritual understanding that our souls are gifted with after passing; there’s a sense of “none of that matters now”.
I normally consider myself a person who forgives easily. Minor transgressions by someone who normally brings positive things to my life are usually forgiven within a few days. I am, however, atrocious at forgetting. For reasons I have yet to understand and often wish I could change, my brain holds on to every moment of hurt, humiliation, and pain that I have ever experienced. Upsetting grade school memories can return to me in a nanosecond. Harsh words spoken out of passionate fury echo across my mind forever. Sometimes my inability to forget impedes my ability to forgive.
I’m having trouble accepting that as a character flaw.
It’s very rarely the hurtful action itself that lingers within me when I have trouble forgiving someone. It’s the unspoken meaning behind the act – “I am more important than you. My feelings, my wants, my needs, my comfort, my safety, my convenience, my reputation, my body, my mind, my heart… it all matters more than you do.”
I mean, jeez, how could that not damage a person? How can people not carry that burden with them, or have it creep up on them unexpectedly when they thought it had been left behind?
For the most part, those in my life whom I haven’t forgiven have also not apologized or really taken ownership of their misdeed. At the end of the day, though, I don’t really care if their actions were misguided accidents or if they were just being straight up assholes. The reason (excuse?) doesn’t undo the damage.
So as it stands today, there are a few hurts I can’t forget, and, therefore, a few people I can’t forgive. I wish it were possible – it would certainly be easier. But do I spend hours obsessively grumbling about them? Not usually. I don’t feel as though I waste much emotion or time on them. It’s sort of like a stubborn old wound or a trick knee – most of the time, it doesn’t bother you, but here and there something sets it off and it pains you for a while until it gets regulated again.
I don’t think that makes me petty or unenlightened. In fact, it serves me well sometimes, because it reminds me that my choices have consequences, and it sometimes helps me to step back and address problems calmly and reasonably. I hope it makes me a good role model for my kids. Hurting people, especially intentionally and callously, is wrong.
I hope they never forget that.