Lately, I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness, not in a religious context mind you, in more of an abstract, philosophical sense. This started because I’m working on forgiving myself for not being the kind of person that I aspired to be, that I thought I was.
The introspection and examination of past mistakes led me to think about observations I have made regarding relationships, both my own and those in my environs. What I have observed is that mistakes are made, harsh words are said as a result of the mistake, and the one committing the transgression is told to move on and/or “get over it”. The transgressor attempts to move on, they might even make decent progress toward forgiving themself for the act. The act is then rehashed occasionally by others affected, dredging up the old feelings, reopening old wounds and undoing all of the “moving on”.
How is the transgressor to heal? Is the objective of the rehashers to make sure the transgressor doesn’t heal? Are the rehashers thinking that the transgressor moving on and/or healing will also lead to forgetting and possibly a recurrence of the act?
I want to believe the best of people. I have to believe the rehashers must have some kind of positive motivation. I have to believe they aren’t simply being cruel. I have to believe their objective is something other than causing the transgressor needless pain.
I know when I make a mistake I feel bad about myself and what I’ve done. The level of how bad I feel is altered by how many people my mistake affected and how much it affected them. If I do something incredibly stupid, no matter how pure my intent, and it affects people I care deeply about, there isn’t a shot in hell I’m going to forget about it. There is even less chance that I will repeat it. I will replay it over and over in my head, working out how I can avoid doing it in the future, thinking about what I should have done instead, what a more appropriate action would have been. How long I take to recover, if I ever do, will depend on how others around me behaved in response to what I did, how grievous I viewed the error to be, and whether there is anything I can do to repair the damage done.
I’m sure there are people that run around willy-nilly acting on a whim, without thought, not caring that their actions affect others, uncaring that their errors are leaving destruction in their wake. I’m also pretty sure that most people don’t feel this way. I’m pretty sure that most people feel the way I do, perhaps not as severely, but at least to some degree.
This then begs the question, why, if the rehashers care for the transgressor, why all the rehashing? Remember the time you did that act? Remember how angry we all were with you? Remember how stupid your action made you appear? and in some cases Remember how bad it made all of us look?
Rehashing and reminding are no more productive than me lying awake at night, thoughts of some error running on a cyclical track of woulda coulda shoulda. It changes nothing. It does not heal. It is not beneficial. It is not productive. It is beating a dead horse. It serves only to resurrect pain.
What is the point? Is there a fear on the part of those affected that forgiving will imply the act was somehow acceptable? How does the transgressor’s self esteem recover when they are repeatedly reminded of mistakes made years ago? How does someone forgive themself when apparently no one else does?
I don’t have answers – only questions.