On Forgiving and Forgetting

I recently participated in an interactive class on forgiveness, and a question came up that many people struggled to answer: Can you truly forgive without forgetting? According to dictionary.com, to forgive is to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake. I guess it is possible to forgive without forgetting, depending on the severity of the act. When I was younger, I had a friend who said some pretty nasty things about me behind my back. It took some time, but I got to a point where I didn’t feel animosity towards her anymore. Of course we would never be friends again because I couldn’t trust her, but I wouldn’t slap her if I passed her on the street today.

In my twenties, I had a friend that I considered to be a sister to me. I would have given her the shirt off my back if she asked for it, and I believed she would have done the same. I never would have imagined my life without her in my circle of friends yet ten years later, I can’t recall what made us friends in the first place. It’s easy to feel that way when you have been wronged, though. I’m sure she has many great attributes, but I can’t look past her faults to see them. You see, she had an affair with my ex husband while I was still married to him. I wasn’t surprised by the action on his part. We were nearing the end of our marriage because I began to see that he was severely lacking the qualities I needed in a husband. I was most shocked by her participation, though. As a woman, I held her to a higher standard. No offense to men who may be reading my blog, I just like to think women have more self-control when it comes to things like that. So what could have possessed my dearest friend to betray me in such a major way?

I am not big on sharing details about my current husband. I don’t talk about the things he buys me, or the conversations we have, or the sweet things he does for me. I have learned the hard way that sharing too much information rouses the curiosities of unscrupulous women. Tell her one too many stories about the flowers your husband brought home for no reason at all, or the foot massage he gave you just because he loves you and jealousy may begin to rear its head, along with all the ugly things that accompany it. I am convinced that sharing too many details is the very thing that peaked my friend’s curiosity.

I won’t go into the details of who confessed to what, but the laundry was aired. I initially thought I could maintain the friendship. My ex and I weren’t married anymore, so we could put this all behind us, right? No, we couldn’t. A true friend is someone with whom your family, property and wealth are safe. You should feel safe from their tongue, and from harmful deeds. This person doesn’t fit into my definition of a friend, so she will be forever outside of my circle.

I don’t feel anger towards my ex husband about the ordeal. I had fallen out of love with him long before our marriage ended, so I couldn’t summon hurt feelings even when I tried. But my friend was another story. I loved her as though she was of my own blood, and hurt doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I felt. Thankfully, time truly does heal. I went from feeling hurt, to feeling anger, to feeling hatred, to feeling nothing at all. I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I forgave her at first. She didn’t deserve it. She hadn’t asked for it as I think she should have. She didn’t care whether or not I forgave her. I wanted to be able to hold on to the feelings of hostility because in my mind, she deserved nothing less. Otherwise, she had won. But I was entitled to the peace that comes from forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t forget. But I love myself enough to let go.

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