What Is Forgiveness?

When this song first became popular, all it could make me think of my was my aunt. Yes, the song describes a nasty breakup, but it completely described how she treated me. She ignored my presence for two years, because I was dating someone that she did not approve. When I say “ignore”, I mean that she would not respond when I greeted her. She would not look at me, and even leave the room if I entered it. During this time, she treated my mother and my sister with sickening warmth. She really made me feel like an outsider, and I dreaded family parties.

She has since recognized my presence, because I broke up with my boyfriend. She has gone to pains to try and restore our relationship, and while that itself is admirable, I can’t bring myself to become close to her again.

I don’t know if she has or will ever realize how deeply she has scarred me, but this is not something that going shopping together can fix.

During the time she ignored me and even now, I have wondered, “What is forgiveness?”. Does it mean that I forget what she did and become BFF’s with her again? That definition is something that she and my other family members would probably like for me to embrace.

Lashing out at her and treating her rudely has passed my mind once or twice, and has even sounded pleasant.

But I know that deep down I wouldn’t be happy with this. My emotions are naturally volatile, and staying angry at someone for so long would make me feel exhausted. After initial feelings of triumph, I would eventually come down from the emotional high.

I also know that these actions would be the result of my hurt feelings. I don’t really want to hurt her, it’s more that I want her to understand how she made me feel. I’m angry that she ignored me because of my choices. I’m angry that she treated me so unfairly compared to my family members. I’m angry that she missed birthdays, my high school graduation, and my first year of college at her alma mater, nonetheless. I’m angry that she threw away our close relationship, because I was dating someone that she just didn’t like.

She made me feel worthless.

So yes, I’ve gone through a whole roller coaster of feelings. And I’m still not sure what “forgiveness” is. God knows, I’ve spent hours on my knees praying for an answer. I’ve spent hours debating with my uncle on the phone. I’ve spent hours in therapy releasing my feelings of anger, resentment, and loneliness.

She explained her motivation for her behavior once, over a text message. After that, while I do not agree with her motives, I understand her way of thinking. In her mind, her action was correct. My ex just wasn’t “good enough” for me, and somehow by ignoring me, she was teaching me a lesson. Whatever.

I don’t think forgiveness is forgetting things that happened. I think forgiveness is somehow related to acceptance and understanding. Although I don’t agree with her, I understand her. I accept that she thinks differently than I do, and feels the need to control everything around her. Because I didn’t fit into her little box of plans, she ignored me. It wasn’t fair, but ultimately, I’m okay. Because no matter who it is, I don’t need their approval.

In the future, if she chooses to ignore me again because of something else, I know that I’ll be okay. It’s her loss and her own problem that she has to deal with. For so long, I felt unnecessary guilt about dating someone that I loved.

I think a large component of forgiveness is forgiving yourself. Moving on to better days, without being tethered to the ruins of yesterday.

You can’t control how other people act, but you can control how you respond to them.

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