“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past” – Lily Tomlin
My therapist shared this quote with me, and it stuck with me ever since. There are some things that I can just simply not forgive. If you have read my prior posts, then you would know that there is a specific thing that I am talking about. Assault is an unforgivable action, in my book. Especially since I was such a great friend to the person who committed the act.
I told my therapist that I would never be able to forgive the person, and my therapist normalized my feelings. I mean, how do you forgive someone who took your virginity by force, after telling you that they cared about you, and then attacked you, like a savage? I just feel like that is not possible for me, and I don’t think people would blame me.
We then talked about the quote a bit. According to this, if I forgive, then in a way I accept that the past is not able to be changed. But if you realize that the past cannot be changed, then you won’t spent much time ruminating on things in the past, and then can spend some more time on trying to hope/plan for a better future. Because the future is something that you can change/influence.
Let me clarify- by forgiving, it does not mean that I just forget everything that happened and just say that it is okay. But, if/when I choose I forgive, I would forgive for myself, not for him. I would forgive his actions, so that I could have peace myself, so that I could stop trying to change the past, because that is just not possible. From this viewpoint, forgiveness would mean that I realize that the event is now in the past and there is not really a point in thinking about all of the ways that I could have prevented it.
In the act of forgiveness, the action is never forgotten, but perhaps we look at it in a different way, we can distance ourselves from the action that harmed us and we can view it from a different viewpoint. Now, that doesn’t mean we wear rose-colored glasses while thinking about the people who harmed us, but maybe if we are able to get more distance from the event, the meaning changes for us.
I’m honestly not too sure that I would be able to forgive him for what he did to me, but it is something interesting to think about. I mean, I don’t want to hold a grudge, because that is not healthy, but I don’t think I can actually forgive fully someone, for something so heavy. Like, I thought he was my friend. We would talk for hours about everything under the sun, and I felt like we could relate to each other. I felt like he was one of my good male friends on campus, and then he betrayed me in the worst way. So I don’t think I could forgive him… at least not yet. It’s tough to think about. I think forgiveness can make people feel vulnerable, because it sometimes feels like we are saying that we are okay with being treated unfairly.
But then my therapist asked if I could forgive myself. You know, forgive myself for blaming myself in the immediate aftermath and then for a couple years afterwards. Forgive myself for being angry with myself. I definitely do forgive myself. I know now that nothing was my fault and I have been so patient with myself. I have transformed into this person who has such compassion for myself and I now know that it was not my fault ever. I never asked for that kind of treatment; nobody asks for that. I did not show any signs that I wanted that and I did nothing to deserve that. I forgive myself totally and writing that makes me feel so free. It frees me from feeling responsible for what happened. I have come a really long way, in that I believe that the only person who should be held accountable is the person who committed the act himself, the dude who will not be named.