You’ve all heard the old adage, “forgive and forget.” How quaint. How passive-aggressive! I’m all for forgiveness. I’ve forgiven many people who didn’t really deserve it. But forget? How stupid would that be? Even impossible.
When it comes to simplicity, not much can be more simple than the concept of forgiveness. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to do, but when you let go of the anger and hate you have toward someone, you free yourself. That’s good stuff. But can you really forget? I don’t think so.
To Forgive Is a Peace Offering
Maybe you’ve heard that I was the child victim of a ruthless cult leader. He was a real slave-driving, young-girl raping asshole. I escaped his grasp when I was 16. But I really didn’t escape his grasp until I was 25. That’s when I forgave him, whether he knew it or not. You can learn more about my forgiveness story in my book, A Train Called Forgiveness.
So I forgave the cult leader. I also forgave my parents. But did I forget? I did basically¬†forget in regard to my parents. They screwed up. They were just trying to do what they thought was right at the time. But I’d be a fool to forget what that cult leader did to me, and many others.
Here’s another example: My daughter and I recently had some trouble with a school principal and then the school district. Can I forgive? Sure. Will I forget? Hell no! To forgive and forget might be the stupidest saying I’ve ever heard.
Do you think the cult leader of my youth ever changed? Of course not. He lived out the rest of his life being a narcissistic manipulator because that’s who he was. Do you think the principal that treated my kid like shit will never treat another kid that way? Unlikely.
What Would Happen If I Forget?
So when people have proven themselves to be arrogant pricks, forgiveness is one thing, but forgetting should be out of the equation. If I were to just forget the harm done by the cult leader of my youth, I set myself up to be hurt in that way again. I become gullible and vulnerable. By remembering, I ready myself for being a warrior when I need to be.
See? To forgive and forget is just plain stupid in some cases. Furthermore, unless your a fucking saint, to forgive and forget sets you up to be passive-aggressive. Why? Because will you really forget? Really? Of course not. Sometime, somewhere down the road, there’s a good chance that you’ll use that old crap against someone. You’re nice for so long. You say, “It’s okay. It’s water under the bridge.” Until they screw you over again. Then all hell breaks loose. Passive. Aggressive.
When I forgive those who do the most heinous things against me, I just let them go. My intention is to never see them again. But if I do, I’m not going to just stand there and be their punching bag.
Don’t Forget, Remember that Shit
I know people who would claim that unless you forgive and forget, you haven’t truly forgiven. I don’t buy it. You can let go of the hurt and the harm done. Hell, I’d go sit down and have a beer with an enemy on friendly terms. I’ll even give them the benefit of the doubt and love them for who they are. But you’d better bet I’d be ready for any tricks up their sleeve.
Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s humanly possible to forgive and forget. I think those who say they do are full of crap. You might be able to push bad memories way back into the recesses of your mind, but they are still there, and they always will be. True forgiveness doesn’t include forgetting. It does include letting go and moving on.