Forgiveness. It's a loaded word with which I've been grappling lately. What does is actually mean? Is it achievable? I claim to have forgiven and forgotten things and people in my past, but can it really be done? Lately I'm inclined to answer no because despite claiming to have cleared people for their past sins, we never actually forget, do we? We can't because those encounters and those people define us in some way. They may define our mistakes or represent answers to longtime questions that we've had, but they can't be forgotten either way.
I suppose I should give some background as to my slew of inquiries this morning. I've recently come face to face with a person who used to be part of my life. Now I don't mean face to face literally, but he has popped up in conversations and is more real now than he has been in the past two years that I've spent trying to bury the memory of him. In an ironic twist of fate, we moved to the town in which my ex-boyfriend resides. I knew this from the start when I was at home looking for jobs in this state. I laughed when I found that the closest store to which I could transfer was in my ex's hometown. Snorting and rolling my eyes, I put that idea out of my head and tried to focus on a new job to follow. As you well know, I ended up here anyways, working at that same place I thought I wouldn't end up, in the same town as him. When my current boyfriend and I were looking at apartments, I was determined not to let the knowledge that he lived here deter us from looking or moving. Obviously it didn't because we're here, but I'm always worried that I will run into him in town or bump into his mother at the grocery store. It is because of this fear that I've realized I haven't truly forgiven him. I'm afraid of my reaction if I ever see him again- that doesn't exactly exude closure now does it?
The thing is, he hurt me pretty badly. Being naive and trusting, I accepted him into my life again and again, believing his apologies, believing he had changed. We started out as friends in college and slowly crossed the line to being more than that. I hopped that line back and forth between being just friends and more several times in college. It was as if I was playing a constant game of hopscotch but I never could get to the end. The blurred boundaries cost me a lot of sanity back then and gave me more trouble than I really needed at the time. The problem is that I like to see the good in people. It's not a bad trait to have, but if you can't recognize the difference between someone actually being sorry or just saying what you want to hear, then it becomes dangerous. I listened to his apologies more times than I should have because I felt guilty for the grief he was suffering (or I believed he was suffering). While I do believe in karma, I also believe that at some point a person has been punished enough. So time and time again, I let the guilt I felt lead me back to him and forgave him so we could be friends again. This cycle wore on me and after graduation I severed all ties.
You can choose to delete people from your life- block their calls, "defriend" them, but you can never erase the memory of them or the hurt they have caused. I spent so long not thinking about it, that the mention of him smacks me in the face like he is back from the dead. In fact, we often pretend those people are dead, don't we? They're gone, we don't see them, hence not living. My best friend and I pretend that they are eaten by velociraptors so that every time we hear about our unmentionable people, we damn those dinosaurs for not doing their jobs by keeping those people extinct. But the truth is you can't ever block someone from your life, not really. They will always still be there, possibly around the corner or maybe across the country. They have the annoying ability to pop up in dreams or come up in conversation. Everyone believes you've moved on, but the hurt sometimes lingers despite the years.
I think of what I would say if I saw him again. I couldn't tell you. The rash part of my brain thinks I would punch him in the face, enacting my own version of karma. However, I know that I am not capable of doing such a thing. I would probably fain interest in his life and find myself caring only the slightest bit. He told a mutual friend that he wishes he hadn't been such a dick so that we could hang out. Again, true colors are shown. The remorse does not come from hurting me but because he could have a friend in town, if only. So maybe I haven't forgiven. I have moved on, but not forgotten. I thought I had absolved him from his sins against me once upon a time, but I think that forgiveness comes with age and maturity. It will take me a while to completely forgive him after four years of hurt. I've finally gained my trust in people back, and I would not have that shattered by an encounter with the one person who stole that from me. I am a stronger person now because of him, but I hate that I let myself get strung along for so long.
I hope that he's learned his lesson, made his peace, understood exactly how much he took from me. But sometimes people don't learn. I saw the good in him, I saw a good person, but he chose to take advantage of my insight instead of being thankful for it. We all have good in us, but it's whether we act on it that separates us from those who recognize goodness yet refuse to honor it. I will continue to see the good in people and try to forgive, but it's not a black and white process. Forgiveness is entirely composed of shades of gray. I hope that if I continue to try forgiving, I will be able to discern some color along the way.