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.

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?

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.

 

as accents die

I have always hated the Boston accent.

I think because a lot of people I don’t like have it.

including me.

 

I know the problem with hating local accents.

It’s classist.

I get it.

But I think I’m allowed to hate the sound of my own voice

when I’m angry or drunk

and I drop my r’s.

 

my mother says

the boston accent

isn’t an accent, really,

but an attitude.

“come ahn, ked”

“pahk ya cah” and all that.

it’s angry, it’s drunk

just like me

when it comes out of my mouth.

 

i already feel gangly and too big

too noticable

(though I’m only 5’2).

I already don’t like to be noticed in person.

I only like my words to be noticed

when they are printed

and handed over silently.

 

i want people to read my words

and hear their own voice

not mine.

i want to be invisible.

 

i hate my accent.

“you don’t even have an accent.”

everybody has an accent.

even when i’m not drunk or angry

people at college knew where i was born.

i’ll never be free of this place.

my tongue remains a prisoner.

 

at least my fingers are free.

out of bed

i know that i should get out of bed

but who’s keeping score, anyway?

who but I will know

if i spend today

unmoving?

 

“spend” today

like a day is a handful of coins

given in exchange for something else.

 

it’s sunday.

i shouldn’t have to do anything

but i should do something.

according to who?

well i guess, me.

i guess i’m the one who will be disappointed if i don’t

get up

i will think to myself.

you’re wasting the day

the voice inside my head tells me.

is it wasted if i’m enjoying it?

is money used to buy candy wasted

or spent?

taking a step back

a big tip in writing is to “take a step back” and wait a few days, weeks, even months before going over your first draft.

maybe the same is true for trauma

to forget it for awhile

to tuck it away in the folds of your grey matter

to bury it in the bottom of your sheets with chilly toes

and sit on it for a few days, weeks, even months

before going over it.

maybe you need to let it stew

let it sit

let it tumble around in your brain without your consciousness getting in the way

maybe you need to see it with different eyes

older eyes

eyes more wise and steeled with time.

strengthened by distance.

maybe you need to forget a little

to be strong enough to step back into your pain again.

maybe that’s why i know my grandparents’ stories

but not my own.