Updated: Apr 13, 2020
Growing up I was always taught to forgive people. No matter how badly they hurt you, no matter the intention of the person that did the hurting, no matter how badly I did not want to forgive them it was mandatory. It was something that had to be done essentially within seconds of that person presenting an apology regardless of whether or not the apology was coerced or willing. The onus was on me to first forgive and second move on from the issue. I used to hate the fact that someone could basically do whatever they wanted, and as long as they came with at least a quarter-assed apology I was just supposed to act like it never happened once I accepted even though I didn't have a choice in the matter. Just sitting here writing this, I'm having flashbacks of the many days I was on both ends of that spectrum. Now that I'm older and 3 gray hairs wiser, I understand the overarching reason behind teaching children to forgive even for those that aren't religious. However, in teaching that it is essential to make it very clear that forgiveness is a process. Acceptance of apologies do not flash the Men In Black memory eraser into your eyes removing any recollection of the events.
Even after forgiving someone you still remember and sometimes it still hurts. The amnesia may never set in, and you will probably remember the way you felt even if you can't recount specifics.These are just facts. Facts that we choose to ignore over and over again as if that will make them any less factual. Newsflash: It don't.
Here's how I've been handling forgiveness lately:
1. Yes, I forgive you. No, I’m not obligated to fuck with you.
Not the long way, not the short way, not even the medium way. We may have been cool before but we don’t have to be any longer. Many times we believe because we've uttered the words sorry, and maybe added an extremely in there for some extra flair, that means those we've harmed are required to keep us in their lives. Not only no, but also no, en Español. There are times when cutting ties is not only better but required. Far too often we hang onto things that do us little to no good for the sake of nostalgia, time spent, or a myriad of other excuses we've told ourselves. I'm not doing it anymore. NOE. I don't have to be continue a relationship with someone as a result of my forgiveness and no one has to remain bound to me as a result of theirs.
2. Apologies are just words without change.
I believe the best and most sincere apology comes in the form of changed behavior. Without change, no matter how beautifully worded an apology may be, it's meaningless. You hear me? Mean. Ing. LESS. SANS MEANING. Oftentimes we forget just how loudly and how often our actions speak on our behalf. We think all it takes is audible or written words because that's what we were taught coming up. Maybe as children that was all that was required but as we grow, so should our behavior. I know it's a ton of elderly children walking around here but can we at least try and change that narrative? Lesbidifferent.
Last and finally not least,
3. It still takes time to get over it.
Let me start by saying this, there is a distinct difference between holding something over someone's head and protecting yourself. When we hold things over people's head it is usually to remind them of the wrong they did to us while we remained blameless. It's a whole lot of finger pointing typically out of hurt but it is played and immature. In protecting yourself, barriers and obstacles are put in place to avoid the hurt that was previously felt at the hands of a person or group of persons. It's a perfectly natural reaction to an unfavorable situation and a right if you ask me. Rather than faking as if everything is okay, it is better to take the necessary time to heal and make sure that if/when you venture into that situation again, you are good. Take your time. The same way a broken bone needs time to fully heal, so do we. Forgiveness isn't instant.
Distancing yourself from someone does not mean you're holding a grudge, apologies are merely syllables if nothing changes, and people need time before relationships go back to what they were.