You know the saying, “forgive and forget?” That timeless, classic phrase that’s always preached to us – atheist or not? Yeah, I don’t buy into it.
I understand the basic principle of whoever said it – to move on, forgive people because harboring grudges is an ugly thing, all of that. And sometimes, for some small situations I will agree that the saying is relevant. But for especially significant things? Well, not so much.
I’m a big believer in moving on and letting go because that’s really the only way to live. You can’t just come to a full halt in life because there is no pause. BUT, I think it’s to your discretion to forgive or to not forgive people who hurt or wrong you in some way. People will tell you “forgive and forget,” but how can you forgive or forget someone who has deeply hurt you? You are allowed to hang on to some anger or sadness, because that’s YOUR life. No one else gets to dictate it and tell you that this person deserves forgiving.
I don’t want to go into specifics, but a long time ago, someone did something to hurt me – and not just some minor thing. Let’s just say that what this person did, I still remember and feel the repercussions of every day. This person is not exactly in my life – not by any will of my own – but I see them often. I’ve moved past absolutely despising them and wishing death on them, but but whenever I look at them, I remember what they did to me. This person did something horrible to me and it left scars, and I am not about to listen to anyone who tells me to absolve this person of their guilt when they willfully did something like this to me.
Life is pain. Pain is life. I’m not trying to say anything like ‘my sob story is sadder than yours’ because let’s face it, there’s always someone with a life ten times more tragic than ours. But when someone willfully makes you hurt – (in mock trial, we call it ‘malice forethought’) – it’s okay to feel like you aren’t ready to forgive them, or even that you won’t forgive them, ever. Life is not some frilly rainbow paradise where nothing bad ever happens and people are all angelic beings. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, and more than likely anyone reading this has been hurt by someone in a major way. There is nothing worse than feeling obligated to forgive someone who hurt you or, even worse, feeling guilty for not being ready to forgive. You are a rational, intelligent human being who dictates your own choices and your own life, and especially who is a part of it.
In my opinion, forgiveness is a process – a long, rigorous process much like, say, college. I think that true forgiveness is hard to achieve, for me personally, but for others it might not be so. Like college, sometimes some are more suited to it than others. Some people only do well or go through with the process in a certain branch or field. And that’s okay. Just like how not going to college doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dumb (hello, Bill Gates himself was a college drop out!), choosing not to forgive someone doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. I think being forgiven is an incredible privilege – you’ve hurt someone, but they are telling you that they still care for you and are turning a new leaf. That’s a beautiful thing, and anyone who takes forgiveness for granted needs to seriously take a long, hard look in the mirror and examine what kind of a person they are.
To anyone who has been hurt, and especially any abuse victims – please know that you don’t owe anyone forgiveness, let alone the people who have hurt you. You own your life and you get to choose the people that occupy it. Life is short and, even though much of it can be filled with sadness and pain, it’s also filled with so many wonderful, amazing things – places, foods, sights, even people. For every abuser, there must be ten wonderful, kind-hearted people. There are so many people you will love and appreciate you without strings, and will not hurt you like the people who had hurt you before.
Again – life is short. Fill it with the good people rather than hanging on to the bad ones.