We all have heard the saying, “forgive and forget.” Well, whoever created this saying must have either really not cared about much in life, or had never been significantly hurt by someone they cared deeply for. In theory, we all would love to be able to forgive and forget just as easily as we were hurt, but in most cases, it’s not that simple. Forgiveness takes time, and most often, forgetting doesn’t happen.
Not too long ago, I was significantly hurt by someone who I considered a really good friend. I’m not going to get into details, because quite frankly, the details are no one’s business besides mine and the person who hurt me. I will say this however, the person who hurt me turned out to be everything they said they would never become, and despite every effort I made to mend the friendship, the favor was not returned.
The thing that hurt the worst about this betrayal was the fact that I had opened up to this friend. She knew about my self-confidence issues, and how I had always felt second best to someone. She knew about how her actions were affecting me, yet continued to go along with them anyway. In the end, she was the one who made me feel second best.
After going through this experience – an experience I would never wish on anyone – I thought the best way to go about it would be living with a feeling of hate toward the person who hurt me the most. For a while this worked, but eventually I could feel the hatred eating away at my insides. I found I was no longer who I used to be.
I used to be a funny, excited, outgoing person who loved life and wanted to see everything that it had in store. In hating someone so much, I lost that. I lost me. When I woke up to that realization, my heart broke. My heart broke for the girl it lost, and for the days I spent wasting thinking about people who wouldn’t waste a moment of their day thinking about to me.
It was this day that I knew I needed to forgive people for what they had done to me. But how? How was I, someone who was still reeling from pain, supposed to turn a blind eye to someone who had decided to treat me the way they did, even after expressing my feelings about the initial hurt. Do people who hurt other people without any consideration for the other’s feelings deserve any kind of forgiveness. No. At least that’s what I thought at first.
The more I thought about it, I realized that not forgiving someone for their wrongdoings does not hurt the other person, but only hurts the person holding in the anger. As soon as I realized this, I could move on. Without forgiveness, I knew that I would never be able to fully move on from the hurt and the anger brought on by this betrayal. Thus, I started my long journey.
At first it wasn’t easy, almost everyday I had thoughts and feelings of anger and hurt that were brought back through memories. I also had contradicting thoughts and feelings of longing for a friendship that I could never have again. While I felt so much anger toward the person who hurt me, I also longed for the days when we would effortlessly laugh together, and talk about everything that came to mind. I would want to pick up my phone and text my friend and tell her how much I missed those days. But one thing always kept me from doing that – the thought that if she wanted to mend ties as much as I did, she would text me. But she never did.
Throughout the majority of the friendship, we both put in equal amounts of effort, but as things were falling apart, I felt as though I was the only one really trying to mend things. And eventually, I decided I didn’t want to be only one who put in effort into relationships anymore.
Call me crazy, but I felt as though I deserved a relationship that wasn’t exhausting emotionally. I deserved relationships that the other person wanted to be a part of just as much as I did.
I began to appreciate my true friends more, spent more time with family, and participated in activities that took up much of my time and effort. I learned that forgiveness does not have to mean forgetting, or even allowing that person back into your life. And most remarkably of all, I learned to love myself again – not an easy task when someone so important in your life made you feel as though you aren’t worth loving.
I both consciously and unconsciously decided that I didn’t want that type of negativity in my life. However, I also knew I didn’t want to be the type of person who could never let go of past experiences and mistakes. I decided that I would not go out of my way to be friends with her again, but I also would not go out of my way to avoid her or be any sort of mean. I would “kill her with kindness,” so to speak.
When I had made this decision, I was worried that my once-friend would confuse my forgiving for forgetting. However, this kind of betrayal – a betrayal from someone I once considered my best friend – is not something that anyone could or should forget.
I won’t forget this, not because I will forever hold it over her head, but because I hope that it will be a learning experience for me in knowing who my true friends are, and realizing when people don’t have good intentions for me.
I also won’t forget this experience because, although throughout the process I was feeling more hurt than any other time in my life, I also was shown who my true friends are – the ones who stuck beside me throughout the entire process.
As much as I was hurt by the experience altogether, I am thankful for everything it taught me. It taught me that there will forever be people in my life who do not have good intentions for me, and there will be people in my life who will do what is best for them without consideration for how it affects another. But above that, there will also be people in my life who would never let me down the way others have, and for that I will be forever thankful.
Despite me being thankful, do not confuse my forgiving for forgetting.