Forgiveness is More Than Saying Sorry

 
Aside from being an obviously sublime piece of music, forgiveness really is more than saying sorry. You have to show it. You have to mean it. You have to want it. But lately, I’ve realized the most important thing about forgiveness is that you have to be able to forgive yourself for NOT forgiving everyone and everything.

I know, I know. We’re taught to rise above. We’re encouraged to follow all those pretty little quotes floating around the Internet, reminding us that holding onto anger or whatever the hell it is we’re hugging close, hurts the collective us more than the collective them. And mostly, that is true. It wouldn’t be a cliche if it weren’t. But there are some people, some things, you just don’t have to forgive. It’s not law. And you know what? It’s also not wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re holding on to hate or violently cursing the accused’s name every night. It just means you have decided to let go without giving said offender the gift of absolution. You’re not required to, and you never were.

I’ve been thinking about the people who have wronged me over the years. Some of them definitely deserve my pardon, while others deserve to suffer some kind of moral penance. On the flip side, I know there are people who will probably never grant me clemency for some of my crimes on them, while others deserve and would most likely accept an apology.

So no, I don’t forgive you for alienating me before moving out on me and leaving me thousands in debt. I don’t forgive your behavior, and I don’t think you should be allowed to forget how many people you hurt in the wake of your departure. You are not forgiven.

And yes, I am sorry for what he did to both of us and how it made me treat you. If I had known, I wouldn’t have been a participant. I hope you get out one day. One day…

So no, I do not accept your half-ass warning/apology about bringing me into your psychotic public breakdown, invading my rights to privacy. I don’t think you deserve to be forgiven by anyone for what you did. You are not a good person; I do not give you a reprieve.

And yes, I am sorry for whatever drove us apart. Some of it was me, and some of it was you, as it always is in those kind of fizzle-out-friendships. I hope you’re as happy as I am now, and maybe we can sit together over junk food and talk about it all again one day. One day…

So no, I do not forgive any of you for making me believe I deserved less than I did. I do not forgive any of you for taking advantage of every part of me. I do not forgive you for trying to hold me down, hold me back, hold me away from the light. I will never release you from your deeds.

And yes, I do forgive myself for all the times I thought I had to forgive these people, all the people, for the things they’d done to me. I forgive myself for holding on too long and for letting go too fast. I forgive myself for not standing up when I should have and not sitting down when I could have. I forgive myself for not knowing how to forgive, when to forgive, if I should forgive. Of greatest importance, I forgive myself for not always trusting myself, for not believing I knew what was best for me, even when the world told me to hold on or let go.

I forgive myself most of all because without the forgiveness (or lack thereof) I gave, I would not be who I am or where I am today. And today, well… I don’t have a reason to apologize or forgive. Today, I’ve learned to live unapologetically and unforgivingly as… me.

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3 comments

  1. Forgiveness can be a tricky, confusing thing. Philosophically, morally, practically… Like you, there are some actions I cannot and will not forgive. The vast majority I do, with the exception of myself. I am utterly abysmal at forgiving myself anything. I envy you your ability to do that.

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