Forgiveness

I think there might be two definitions of forgiveness.

The first is the one I held most of my life: to tell someone that what they did is “okay.”

As in, someone breaks your pencil, and you say, “It’s okay,” therefore absolving them of blame and guilt.

It’s hard to do that kind of forgiveness.

How am I supposed to tell an abuser, either in real life or in my head, that what they did to me is “okay”?

It wasn’t okay.

In the words of Herb from Bojack Horseman, “You ruined my life, and I will never forgive you for that.”

I think Herb was kind of right. Why should the person who hurt you get to live without blame? Get to feel like what they did was okay? Later on, another character tells Bojack that it’s not enough to just apologize–he has to BE better.

Yeah. Absolutely. Bojack has to BE better. He doesn’t just get to be forgiven every time he hurts someone.

But then…why is it a good thing to forgive people?

I’m not religious, but Jesus’s whole thing is forgiving, right? He forgave our sins, and all that? Forgiveness is next to Godliness. It must be a good thing.

I realized recently when fuming at someone for doing something small that they couldn’t take back that I could either be mad at them and fight with them for an hour, then get over it and make up, or I could just skip the “being mad and fighting” part and just get over it and make up.

Or I could do something in the middle: tell them that what they did hurt me so they can try to avoid doing it again in the future, then get over it and make up.

So that’s where I realized that “getting over it and making up” might be the second (or, alternately, the true) meaning of forgiveness. It’s not telling someone that what they did to me was “okay,” but instead telling them that it was not okay, but then getting over it and making up.

I think that that is why the word “sorry” is so disappointing. Hearing “sorry” is so rarely placating. It doesn’t help the situation. It doesn’t make anything better. It doesn’t make you unlate. It doesn’t unbreak the pencil. But it’s all you can say when you know you are in the wrong.

And if someone knows they are in the wrong, 90% of the time they will try to be better next time. To BE better, like Bojack needs to be. Isn’t that the point of telling them that they hurt you in the first place?

(P.S., those 10% who won’t try to change aren’t worth your time)

So now I’m working on a second definition of forgiveness: telling someone, either in person or in your head, that what they did was wrong, and that it was not okay, then getting over it, moving on, and making up.

“Getting over it and moving on” might take years of therapy.

The “making up” part is optional, depending on what they did.

This definition makes more sense and is much less angering than the one that involves telling someone that what they did was “okay.” Especially when it wasn’t.

Maybe this was just me finally understanding what “forgive and forget” means.

“I wish we had known, when we left, that we were leaving.”

When I left the high school for the last time

on Friday, March 13

I thought we’d be closed for a week.

Maybe Two.

I told my students to enjoy the week off.

I didn’t bother saying goodbye to the students

I didn’t have that day.

I left a water bottle in my room.

I left a stack of papers, ungraded.

I left a sweater.

I left homework written on the board.

I miss my students.

I miss even the annoying ones.

I miss the busy halls and filled-up lunchroom.

I miss the hectic joy of graduating seniors.

I wish we knew, when we left, that we were leaving

Because now we’re gone

And the school is a ghost town

But the ghosts have all left.

 

How we doing?

Sometimes I feel like I should put more effort into uplifting the world. Sometimes I feel awful. Sometimes I feel bad about the fact that I’ve apparently spent 17 hours staring at a screen today. Sometimes I don’t, since that includes my yoga class and all my time with friends, now. Sometimes I just feel alright. Sometimes I feel pretty damn good.

I just want to go to a restaurant.

I should feel lucky. I’m not dead anyway. I’m not sick. No one I know has died. People I know have gotten COVID-19 but no one has died. No one has even gone to the hospital, yet. 5,000 people in my state have died. 50,000 have gotten sick.

Is it lying dormant in my body?

“Well, in normal times, we’d…”

“But because of ‘all this’…”

I think I’ll find my mask in the bottom of a desk in a few years. What will I think about it? How will I feel about it? Will I smirk? Will I fold it over in my hands? Will I tell young children what it was like, like the Great Depression? Will we all be traumatized by “nights in”?

What will the next sickness be like?

What will the next school year be like?

What will the next farmer’s market look like?

When will I be able to dance again?

My stride

Hitting my quarantine stride has meant creating normalcy as much as possible, while living through a very un-normal situation.

I am tired of hearing the words “unprecedented,” “challenging,” and “trying” when they precede the word “times.”

I am tired of advertisements showing families on Zoom calls.

I am tired.

I am tired of my dumbass president, I am tired of everything.

And so are you.

I don’t know what to tell you, you know? We’re all in the same boat. There’s no news. There’s only a growing sinkhole in everyone’s stomach.

These trying goddamn times, my dude.

So, hitting my stride. Yoga, writing, reading, work-at-home. Animal Crossing. Walks with the dog in cemeteries. Making tea after tea after tea. Wearing the same pants for days.

Can you imagine going to a concert right now?

So what are YOU doing during quarantine?

It’s kind of weird how it’s being treated like a…I don’t know. Summer vacation?

I shouldn’t complain, I suppose.

I really shouldn’t. Unlike a lot of the world, I still have a job.

I am an editor. I edit books, and because I do so via the internet, I’m still working. Luckily, people are using this time to write, so I am still getting clients.

I am also a creative writing tutor, and my students are still having me teach them (virtually), which is great for both of us. One of my students’ parents told me that after we resumed lessons after the first two uncertain weeks, her son was in a much calmer mood. I must admit, getting back to normalcy in that one small regard helped calm my anxieties a bit, too.

I am also, less fortunately, supposed to be dong my student teaching through grad school. They have accepted my first “observation” as a filmed, flipped classroom-type video. Dunno how the rest is going to go.

Besides work and grad school, I, too, am writing. I’ve started a new project for the first time in about a year. It feels great to be writing again. I love writing on paper, especially this fancy old-timey parchment. I bought this leather notebook at a Renaissance Faire last year and I love writing on it. It has two dragons embossed on the cover. It’s awesome. It feels awesome to write in, and I love my new story. It’s going so well.

I’m also getting into yoga and meditation. I like that I get to sit out on my porch in the just-warm-enough April sun. I like that I get to take my dogs on walks, even if it is in the cemetery (because the woods are full of people, now) and even if I do have to wear a mask. I like playing Animal Crossing with my boyfriend and I like doing virtual calls with friends who live far away. I am reading a ton. I have plans to make floral tea mixes and candles. I am submitting my writing to magazines and submitting my finished novel to publishers and agents. I am working on my posture. I am working on my baking. I am sewing dolls.

I am trying to fill my time with all these things and yet the day is so long.

I am realizing how much of my time I used to fill with things I didn’t enjoy.

I am realizing that, despite how much I ask for it, I don’t need a lot of alone time.

I am realizing that I miss my friends, my family. I miss my boyfriend’s family. I miss restaurants and coffee shops, and libraries, and my students. I miss going to the movies. I miss food shopping. I miss life.

On top of it, I’ve also realized that I’m not as healthy, mentally, as I would like.

I’ve taken freedom and busyness for granted.

When all this is over, I am going to go back to therapy. I am going to spend more time outside with friends, and I am going to hug them and compliment them more. I am going to live, and appreciate life.

I am going to smile more.

Smile at strangers, more.

what a time to be an introvert.

i never thought i’d be tired of being at home.

my god. is this what being an extrovert feels like?

i’m dying for touch. i just want to see someone smile

i just want to laugh

i want to go to a bar

a party

i want to go clubbing

and if you know me

you know

how crazy that sounds.

i want to run

i want to run to a place where we can be outside without a mask

i want to go back in time just 30 days

to when this all seemed impossible.

to when i doubted schools would close

to when i was still able to go out to eat

to when i still *wanted* to be alone.

read me aloud

read me aloud

read me a poem

make me a poem

and read me to sleep

take all my words

turn them to art and

music and dancing

will follow them soon

my diary is on your lips

top of your shopping list

pens and ink, paper

the necessary end

read me aloud

read me to children

read out my histories

and let them be loud

for you have a voice

mine is a quiet one

you have a mic

while i’m lost in a crowd

so take all my words

the good and the bad ones

say them with your smile

and they will be heard.