I think we can all agree that forgiving and forgetting are not easy things to do. Once someone has hurt you, the last thing you want to do is look like the weaker person for simply letting them get away with it. Our anger and hurt make us want revenge. We want them to hurt the way that they hurt you. But after a while, all that anger fades away and leaves us with emptiness. We feel lonely, lost and worthless. Yet our pride means that we still won’t give in. Even if they apologise and beg for forgiveness. We try to prove that we are stronger by not needing them. Even though all you really want is for everything to go back to how it was before.
Forgiving is the easier part. Eventually there comes a time when you have moved on further enough to not feel any bad feelings towards what they have done. You finally reach that emotional place where you feel able to forgive them. Sometimes it’s easy for things to go back to ‘normal’. Sometimes everything seems perfect after you have forgiven them. But other times, it can take a little bit longer as there can be quite a lot of awkwardness between the two of you.
Then there is the forgetting part. I don’t think people ever really do forget. How can you just forget something that clearly meant a lot to you at the time? If it meant enough to hurt you, then you are likely to remember it for a long time. So even if everything seems fine, there are times when the memory of what they did will be triggered. It could just be one little word or action and yet you’ll instantly think of all the anger and hurt from that time. And maybe then you feel regret for the way that you handled the situation. But no matter what you do, that memory will always be there every time that you are around that person.
Everybody falls out with someone at some point. And everybody forgives people. We forgive people who lie, cheat and steal. We forgive the people who hurt us either physically or emotionally. We are taught to forgive people as part of our primary socialisation and over time, we learn that forgiving people is sometimes the easy option. Sometimes we don’t want to let go of that person as we don’t want to know what life without them is like, so we simply choose to remain as we are. Then on the other hand, there are the times when we choose not to forgive. Maybe the person has done something multiple times now or something that you think is so bad that you can’t forgive them. I’ve recently just gone through this. They kept hurting me over and over again, but I’d always forgive them because I believed that I wouldn’t be happy without them. Until one day, they just pushed me too far. I told them I’d had enough and from then on, I’ve been trying to erase that person from my life. I feel happy that I was strong enough not to let them walk over me once again, yet every now and then I just feel like it would have been easier to forgive them. Because then I’d still be able to talk to them and they would be there for me again. But I know that if I had forgiven them, the cycle of them hurting me and then me forgiving them would never have ended. So in some cases, it may be for the best not to forgive them. And in those cases, I find it easier to forget. Because you don’t have to interact with that person or have anything to do with them, so there is less chance for the memory to be triggered.
Either way, the choice is ours alone to make. Do we forgive and forget? Do we let go of what they did and push it to the back of our minds? But we all know that’s a lot harder than it sounds. Even after we have decided, we still don’t know whether is was the right thing to do. I suppose at the end of the day, it all comes to down to the wonders of being human. These are all choices that we have to make at some point in our lives. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong. But you have to try to find out. Because if you always live with the fear of getting it wrong, then you’re not really living life to the best you can…