“Forgive and forget“. Apparently a mantra for us human beings if we want to continue living a reasonable life I suppose. I have been thinking about forgiveness lately. Especially after, coincidentally, I read a brilliant book and watched a brilliant movie which had themes of forgiveness in them. I don’t want to give away much about who the protagonist tries to forgive in the book as it would give away a lot. But in the movie, The Descendants, the promos kind of give you an idea already so I’ll talk about that.
In ‘The Descendants’, George Clooney’s wife is in a coma and he then finds out from his daughter that she had been having an affair. And as you can imagine, his heart is pretty much ripped out of him. Personally, I cannot imagine forgiving someone who has cheated on me. When I hear about relationships where one partner has cheated on the other and yet, the one who has been cheated on takes the partner back, I don’t know how they do it.
I used to say that I could forgive people but never forget what they did. I guess I thought they were mutually exclusive. When I think about it now, I wonder — if you can’t forget what a person has done to you, you probably have not been able to actually forgive them. I remember for years holding on to grudges about how my parents had wronged me [read: punished me for certain things but not my sister for the same] and even though I kept saying I’d forgiven them, I hadn’t really forgotten any of those perceived unjust events. And I would regularly bring them back up in arguments and disagreements in chronological order. However, about 5 years ago or so, I think I really and truly forgave them. Because somewhere in my adult mind, I got some perspective of things. That I was not so hard done by. And now, I don’t necessarily remember each and every unfair event.
I don’t think there is any right way to forgive. Or even any rule that we should forgive. After all, if you think of some of the most atrocious crimes committed, you cannot possibly expect victims to forgive the perpetrators! Yet, there are some who do. And just like with the cheating partner, I don’t know how they get the strength to forgive.
Some questions I find that pop up for me are: When do people know to forgive? Is it when they find themselves so stuck with resentment and holding grudges that it affects their daily lives? Or is it just a time thing? And can you forgive someone without letting them know you have forgiven them? Like for instance, if someone you haven’t forgiven is dead, can you forgive them and successfully move on with your life? I’m not really looking for answers around this. I just find myself asking the questions.
But there are questions I’d like to ask you.
Do you find it easy to forgive someone? No matter what they may have done?
And do you think you can forgive but not forget? Or have you learnt that they are not mutually exclusive?
Until next time,