It’s a concept that we’re taught from a young age. An action that belongs to the strong and the good and an action that I’m not sure I am capable of. Maybe I am capable, maybe I choose not to act on that capability, I don’t know. But I do know that it’s something I’ve always felt pressured into doing and something I’ve lied many times about. Like everyone, there are so many people who have hurt me in life. Sometimes small mistakes that are easier to let go of, sometimes huge, intentional movements which have stuck with me for years. Some of these wrong doings I have had a part in, some of them were done to me with no input from myself at all. I have accepted apologies, acknowledged that the perpetrator feels guilt and moved on. I have also held people accountable when they have refused to understand their heavy-handedness and I have made it clear how they have impacted my life in an ongoing and negative way. In every case I have never forgiven.
Now don’t misunderstand me here, I can accept indiscretions and continue relationships with those who have hurt me. I’m not made of stone. I can step forward with my life and leave it in the past. But in my understanding, that is very different to forgiveness. Forgiveness is a religious ideal. It is one that holds the victim responsible. We are told that it is good to forgive and that it’s toxic to carry around anger for the people who have harmed us (personally, I think anger is a powerful and necessary emotion, but that’s for another day). It’s our job as the “bigger person” to forgive and forget. The guilty party can be absolved and it’s as if all their sins and immorality is wiped clean. Back to square one. They can go on to sin another day. Perhaps they learn from their mistakes, if they indeed believe that what they did was wrong. Perhaps they don’t. Many people treat others badly for a reason. Surely it would be more beneficial to acknowledge what you have done and choose to look at the reasons behind that to ensure you understand yourself better at the end of the ordeal, rather than receive a pardon from the victim and pretend it didn’t happen?
Someone once told me that until I forgive these wrong doings, I am suffering. Life is painful, bad things happen and, in those moment, you feel pain. It’s inevitable. Suffering is a choice to hold onto that pain. It’s an interesting way of thinking and I am very aware of my penchant for suffering, which is something that I am trying to work on. There are some things that people have done to me that I have not got closure for yet and I am not ready to let go of. So, I suppose in that sense, I agree that I am choosing suffering. I do know though, that one day I will be ready to move on and on that day, the people that hurt me will receive no pardon, they will not be excused, and they will not be forgiven. There are many other things that I have accepted and moved on from, that although they once shaped me, they don’t continue to contort my emotions and thoughts. One thing I am very clear on in those circumstances is that I was not responsible for their actions then, and I am certainly not responsible for their future actions. Forgiveness is just another way to blame the underdog, the trodden down and beaten. A way to hold them accountable for what happened to them and what happens in the future to others. I encourage acceptance and understanding. I refuse to be a part of another aspect of a victim blaming society so just to be very clear, if I have ever told you I forgive you, I lied.