The Bad Influence
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The Bad Influence

Forgive and Forget?

Worst adage. Terrible advice.

Photo by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash

What the actual fuck does “forgive and forget” even mean?

First of all, forgetting is something we do when we don’t store things in long-term memory. And things usually worth forgiving are not easily forgotten and can be stored in fucked up fragments all over the mind, making their way into your consciousness at random and often inopportune times. Luckily, there are treatment modalities like EMDR to process pain, but the journey can be long, arduous, and expensive.

And let’s talk about forgiveness. What even is that? Absolution? Permission? Or is it for me and me alone, so I’m not carrying your pain? That makes some sense. But forgiveness is far more than a definition found in Webster’s dictionary. It’s a feeling. It’s somatic. It’s a series of lived experiences where you go from *insert awful emotion* to less and less of that feeling until the memory of what is trying to be forgiven no longer haunts or hurts you. It’s elusive and hard to come by, and once you’ve achieved some rendition of it, forgetting is hardly the next step. Memories requiring forgiveness are usually sewn in pretty tight, and there’s a shit ton of anger that comes along with them. They’re accompanied by burning questions like, “Why am I doing all this work because *insert perpetrators name* made such poor/inexcusable/downright terrible choices. Are you losing sleep and constantly batting away intrusive thoughts, or are you continuing your tour of terror?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I guess it doesn’t matter since I’m the one who has to forgive and then forget it ever happened.

Wait…but if I forget, what happens to the lessons I learned from it? What happens to the heartbreaking then soul-evolving experiences that came after? I don’t want to forget those. I want to be better. Stronger. Safer.

Well, I suppose if I get to the angelic level of forgiveness so that I can take deeper breaths, love more fully, and fucking sleep, that’s for the best. So, while I may forgive, forgetting is not an option. I remember so I can help myself and to help others who haven’t gotten the misguided advice of “forgive and forget” yet because they are still in it.

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