As part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge this month, I’m going to post about things I love or that are important to me.Forgiveness is important to me. When I was younger, I had a hard time forgiving myself for anything. I blew up the tiniest mistake in my head and made it into a really big deal. I thought I had to be perfect, and I’m not sure why. When I couldn’t be (and since perfection is impossible, that was often), I felt bad about myself. I always just figured everyone felt this way.
I held other people to unrealistic standards too. I remember that one person said something that set me off, and I figured that meant they didn’t care about me. If people didn’t say the right thing at the right time, then I thought they didn’t care. It took me years to realize that not caring and not being able to read my mind are two different things.
I don’t really believe in forgive and forget, not about what I do or about what others do to me. I think that forgetting is unrealistic and dangerous. Willfully forgetting says that I should give up part of me, and I think that all experiences, both good and bad, are important parts of me.
People say that you should “forget,” but what they really mean is that once you forgive, you should let go of what hurt you. I can let go, and still remember. Remembering doesn’t mean that I’m sitting around listening to The Cure, endlessly rehashing what happened. It just means that I’ve learned something from the experience. Or that I’m trying to learn.
I really believe that forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. To forgive means to let go of the hurt and pain. It means we’re flawed and imperfect, and that’s okay. It means realizing that other people are just as flawed and imperfect as we are. I’ve done and said things in my life that I wish I could take back, and I’ve been forgiven for them. Doing bad things doesn’t make me a bad person, and most of the time when I’ve done bad things, it was because I was hurting in some way myself. Holding onto grudges wouldn’t do me any good, and it wouldn’t do anyone else any good either.
It’s taken a long time for me to learn to forgive myself or others. Some days I have to re-learn it all over again. But it’s always worth the effort.