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Monday, September 5, 2011

Forgiving and Forgetting.

I often think about the 'what if's' of my life.

What if I had taken graduate work in psychology and become a psychologist? What if I stayed in the Physician Assistant program at Hahnemann and become a P.A.? What if I had never gotten to do the dinner theater which led me to the apartment in NYC? And had I not left the PA program or instead gone to graduate school would I ever have auditioned for anything? And would my life be different had I done other than what I ended up doing? What if, what if, what if?

No matter what, physically it always ends up in the same place. The trigeminal neuralgia was part of my birth defect. It was ready to be triggered no matter what I was doing. A psychologist, A P.A., a successful actress, no matter what the road it all leads to the same dead end.

But what about the people who knowingly hurt me, changed my life in ways that effect me each and everyday, from the minute I rise until I curl up under the covers at night?

My anger towards them waxes and wanes. Sometimes, when my eye is behaving itself and the pain is not too bad, or the bills have not come due they are not in the forefront of my mind.

I think some of the anger that rises unbidden at a situation having nothing to do with any of it, the old 'kick the dog syndrome', is related to it even though it may not seem that way at the moment of my anger.

I think of people I see on the news who have been put in a wheelchair by a drunken driver or left severely damaged by a shooter just driving by, or mugged and worst and left physically and emotionally scarred and damaged. I listen to them as they say "I have forgiven them."

I wonder aloud, for the umpteenth time, why can they do it but I cannot?

I think some of it is because of my aloneness. You need the support of others to help you. Not only get through it but understand it, accept and get past it - to figure out the way to go forward. If another is there to help you do whatever it is you can no longer do, to accept the unacceptable, maybe the anger at the person who caused it is not quite as necessary or consuming.

Part of the anger for me is also because they got away with what they did to me. But what about the hit and run driver or the criminal who was never found? How does their victim get past it? And yet it seems they often do.

I remember a few years back, I was telling some people about the things my siblings and parents said and did that have hurt me so deeply. "I think I forgive them but I have to make very sure I never forget."

"That's an awful thing to say. You won't forget? Then there is no forgiveness. That makes no sense you will do the one but not the other." I was told.

I think it makes a lot of sense.

The forgiving is so very important. They may never 1) know or care what they did and 2) not know or care that you forgive them but it is for your own personal well-being that you forgive. It is the only way to get past it.

Forgetting is a bad idea. Forget what someone did and you often let them do it again. You must never forget, it is to your own detriment if you do.
I find when I forget I am only too willing not only to trust them but to put my trust in others whose bahavior is very similar to the ones who have hurt me. In forgetting and giving trust where it does not belong, Bingo, here comes the same hurt. And this time my forgetting gave them the permission to do it.

When I have to go to the eye hospital, when I have to take another, or 2 or 3 pain pills, when I struggle to pay my bills, when I want to work but cannot, I think of the people that caused much of this. I do not forget them. I gave them my trust and they abused it. Do I forgive them? It is at these times that even when I thought I had I realize I have not.

Those who are injured by an intoxicated driver or evil person who commits a crime against them, maybe it is the lack of a personal relationship that allows the forgiveness. Those who hurt me lied directly to my face, knowing they were lying, knowing the devastation they were about to cause. But, as I write that last sentence, I am reminded of newsstories about someone whose life has been forever changed for the worst by a family member or friend and they have still forgiven them.

What if, what if?

Maybe my question needs to be what if I could forgive them, and better yet, how do I forgive them. And within that question is there a part of me that thinks - it is my fault, I let them get away with doing this to me.

Maybe, just maybe, a big part of the question is: how do I forgive myself?

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