Forgive and Forget?

Yellow-white-brick-wall Photo : Rachel Mandel

Forgive and forget.

It’s what we’re taught to do when someone does something that hurts us.

But what if you can’t?

I read a quote by the artist Rachel Wolchin, the other day,

“Forgiving someone isn’t approving how they wronged you, rather it’s no longer allowing their wrongs to define you.”

Instead of filling me with ‘feel good’ feelings, it actually upset me. Because there is someone I can’t forgive for what they did and it made me feel like a bad person for not being able to do so.

As recently as this year, two people hurt me. Each was a pretty big hurt, too. One of those people I have been able to forgive. They’ve apologized for what happened, and we’ve worked through the pain together. It hasn’t been easy. There are days when it’s still hard (though those days are few and far between now), but with each passing day it gets better. It hurts less. I forgave them long ago and while I don’t think I’ll ever entirely forget what happened, one day I know that I won’t think about it, or the part they played in all of this, at all.

The other person has not apologized, has not reached out to me. In all fairness, we weren’t terribly close. In fact, we only spoke once. I’m not even sure what they would do if they contacted me too. I dislike this person immensely, and do not want them in my life in any capacity. I’m pretty sure seeing their name would result in me lighting my computer on fire (or maybe something a little less dramatic). I can’t forgive them for what they did, I can’t forget it, and I’m not even sure that I want to.

There are a number of articles online about the benefits of forgiving and forgetting. There are a number of health benefits too, as I discovered on WebMD (which then told me I had some manner of incurable disease because that’s how WebMD likes to roll). But there are very few articles that deal with not forgiving and forgetting. The ones I have read boil down to this – can you forgive them and mean it? If you can’t, don’t.

It’s a hard pill to swallow because I am, by nature, pretty easygoing and caring toward other humans. To have feelings of intense dislike toward someone makes me feel pretty down. It begins this whole sadness spiral in which I don’t really know what to do with myself. So what I’m trying to do is forget. Not necessarily forget what happened, but forget this person and the impact that they have on my life, the way that they make me feel whenever I think about them.

At the end of the day, they’re not worth my time. They’re not a person who had a great impact in my life before they hurt me, so why should they be allowed/able to take up residence in my thoughts? Why give them any more space in my mind if they’re not worth thinking about, when I could be thinking of puppies eating peanut butter, or the wonderful life that I have (which includes watching videos of puppies eating peanut butter)?

I’ve always known that I don’t have to like everybody. I’m going to encounter a lot of people in my life and chances are that I’m not going to like some of them. But there have been few people that I have actively disliked, and that dislike can usually be chalked up to simply having different views, not because they did something to actively hurt me.

As much as I may dislike this person, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m vengeful or want bad things to happen to them. Quite the contrary, I hope that they are happy, and find whatever it is that they are looking for. I know that they like to travel, so I hope that they see a lot of places in the world that make them smile, that may help ease whatever pain it is that they’re going through too, because I’m sure this hasn’t been easy on them. I honestly do want the best life for this person. And wanting good things for people doesn’t mean that you have to like them. It’s about being a good person, which I still believe that I am, even if I don’t think of this person fondly.

Thinking back on Rachel Wolchin’s quote, I understand that this person’s actions don’t define me, not even a bit. But I’m still not going to forgive them any time soon. Forever looking on the bright side of life, what they did helped me find a strength within myself that I didn’t know that I possessed. They also helped me forge stronger relationships. Without them and the pain that they caused, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today. I’m stronger, I take less crap (if that is even possible because I didn’t take much crap before), and I cherish the things in my life much more than I used to. In a roundabout way, I’m almost glad that this person hurt me … though I certainly don’t want to go through that again.

Forgive? Maybe not. Quite frankly, I don’t think that they deserve my forgiveness as they have done nothing to warrant me giving it to them. Forget? I actually think I would be doing myself a disservice if I did, but I don’t need to let their actions, or the pain that they caused me, to define me.

Right now, all I can do is wish this person well – and I think that is enough.

Megan Cox : East Coast woman living in a West Coast city. Sometimes writer, and habitual ruckus causer. Enjoys travelling, history, music, cinema, literature, hockey, and beverages that are warm.
Megan Cox : East Coast woman living in a West Coast city. Sometimes writer, and habitual ruckus causer. Enjoys travelling, history, music, cinema, literature, hockey, and beverages that are warm.