Forgive and Forget or Fighting Back?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about depression and what drives people to it. I’m not talking about clinical depression and this is no reflection on what  some people consider a serious disease. It’s more about garden variety depression, that feeling that you cannot change a circumstance no matter what you do. That things haunt you and are hard to get over. That kind of depression. Or maybe you would call it something else—no matter what you call it, it can sure be confounding.

We go through life, for the most part minding our own business and doing our best to pursue our goals and dreams. Large and small. Those things that we believe will make us happy. Of course without setbacks and obstacles, life would be rather boring, so we encounter stops and slows along the way. Sometimes, we encounter those stops in a deeply emotional way.

Someone we care for betrays us. Hurts us. Messes with our heads. It’s deep. It’s emotional. It makes you want to crawl into a hole and stay there indefinitely. After a while, it starts to affect other things, other parts of our lives—things go downhill. And suddenly it seems everything is just a big pile of shit and each day brings more shit to add to the pile.

We have searched our souls. Sought counsel. Prayed. Tried to forgive and forget. Because…well, because that’s what society expects of us. Whether through some religious philosophy or a military attitude, life tells us to suck it up and move on. Much as we’d like to, we can’t seem to. No matter what remedies are employed, logical or illogical, we simply can’t move on. We can’t forgive and forget. Why?

Certainly most of us try to be a bigger person. A better person. The lessons of Christ teach us to turn the other cheek. To bless those who trespass against us. To open our hearts with love and see that the perpetrator of our pain is also in pain. Perhaps lost. Doesn’t mean to do what they do. Is just acting out of fear or pain or something… Even the non-religious philosophy seems the same, though perhaps more crude. “Suck it up.” “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” “You’re too good for them.” “They are just jealous of you.” “Don’t waste your time and energy.” “Stop worrying about things you cannot change.” A whole litany of catch phrases designed to make us feel better and empower us. Restore our self esteem. Enable us to move into tomorrow.

Does it work? Sometimes. Maybe half the time.  And sometimes just through sheer perserverance we get through it. Past it. The impact and power of the thing fades and we become immersed in other things. Though I don’t think it ever goes away. It lurks back there, in some ways affecting your future actions. Affecting how you deal with people and situations in the future. Perhaps curtailing your trust or belief in people or things. Changing you maybe in small ways, maybe in large ways but changing you.

What’s the alternative? Seriously, what choice do we have? Society prohibits us from causing bodily harm to another, no matter how much they may have hurt us. We aren’t allowed to have duels when we are insulted or hurt. We can’t punch out somebody’s lights. In short we can’t fight back. Too bad, because I believe therein lies the problem.

I believe that one of the reasons we can’t let go. Can’t move on. Can’t get past certain things is because our hands are tied. Because we can’t fight back, or at least we feel we can’t fight back. Hence the reason for lawyers? (Okay, just kidding).

Seriously though, imagine a world where when someone hurts you, you could challenge them to a duel. You could punch their lights out without being punished further. You could loudly and freely object. Doesn’t that feel better?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t advocate violence. I honestly don’t think it solves anything. But I guess I also don’t advocate forgive and forget. I think you can fight back, retrieve your self respect and self esteem without issuing blows or black eyes. I think you can fight back with the truth.

Telling someone who had done you wrong that you forgive them, when they have done nothing to deserve forgiveness, in my opinion only acts to enable the person to continue doing wrong to others. You included. On the other hand, telling that person the truth, the unvarnished truth, without worrying about how they will respond or sugar coating anything is good for the soul. Again, no need to be violent, but honesty I think is the best weapon of all. Forget societal rules, forget about how you might sound or what others may think. Tell the truth. Tell that person or group, or whatever exactly what you think of them. Exactly what they did that was damaging. Let them carry the burden of their actions. Don’t let them get away with it. If they have any integrity, after the shock they may truly make amends for any hurt they may have caused. And if so, then you probably could quite easily forgive and forget.

You may have helped them change their ways. But even if they don’t, at least you don’t have to own what they did. You can move on. The bible even says that the truth sets you free. It’s my opinion that it does.

What do you think?

copyright 2010

WC

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2 thoughts on “Forgive and Forget or Fighting Back?

  1. Sometimes the truth hurts the perpetrator worse than the crime hurts the victim of the crime. Facing the truth is pretty hard. So what. It needs to be done. Con artists will continue to be con artists until they face up to the totality of what they are doing. That “facing up” might be a bit uncomfortable. The “Con-ee” gets to benefit from the education they now have. Possibly an expensive education but education none the less. Yes the truth will set you free. Free to move on and up. For both sides.

    Hey you!
    Maybe you’re right, although I wonder…about it hurting the perpetrator worse than the victim. Yes, an expensive education indeed – but that is the bright side of a bad situation, isn’t it? The lessons we learn, or at least try to. Sometimes, I really have to ponder what the lesson is supposed to be pretty hard. Live and learn, yes?

    Love
    Annie

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  2. You raise a very important and valid question. First I must ask, can someone hurt us without our permission? Physically, I would say yes. Someone could physically hurt us without our permission. Emotionally and mentally we must allow a person to hurt us. We are in control over weather or not we can be hurt by someones words or actions. What if someone hurts us? Do we turn the other cheek and allow ourselves to be hurt again? Do we then forgive? Do we lash out with words that are honest and at the same time hurtful? We all know that the wounds words leave are often much more severe and longer lasting than what we could unleash physically.
    Physical or verbal retaliation is still violent no matter how you look at it. As you said you don’t advocate violence, however in a way you do because you do advocate being brutally honest and to not censor the pain your words could inflict upon another.
    I see no good coming from a violent response. You may feel better for a moment, however that euphoric feeling will quickly dissipate and often times you will find yourself choking on your own vile, even if it is honest vile.
    Love is forgiveness, we are love and therefore the best of what we are must forgive and do so without reservation for it is as you said the reservation that we harbor which causes the depression that we feel.
    Great post, got me thinking.

    Rather than trying to answer you in one para I will take your points and answer them individually. Your comments in itals.

    First I must ask, can someone hurt us without our permission? Physically, I would say yes. Someone could physically hurt us without our permission. Emotionally and mentally we must allow a person to hurt us. We are in control over weather or not we can be hurt by someones words or actions.

    I would answer this with my own questions: Does a wife give her husband permission to cheat on her? Does a child give a parent permission to mentally or emotionally abuse them? Does a celebrity give a crazy fan permission to stalk and terrorize them? I think not. While the concept of one ‘allowing’ another to hurt them is fine in theory it’s not very applicable in real life. People are connected emotionally and violations of trusts and agreements between that are broken by one of the parties are just that.

    What if someone hurts us? Do we turn the other cheek and allow ourselves to be hurt again? Do we then forgive? Do we lash out with words that are honest and at the same time hurtful? We all know that the wounds words leave are often much more severe and longer lasting than what we could unleash physically.

    So being honest is hurtful? Why would that be the case? I’m not advocating name calling or personal attacks. How does the truth end up being in that category? And why would the truth wound anyone? Honestly – words are words, they aren’t weapons, at least I’m not advocating them as weapons. And telling someone the truth should work in the direction of resolution rather than increased troubles. And this whole para confuses me because you seem to be saying that the perpretrator is more entitled to consideration than the person perpetrated upon?

    Physical or verbal retaliation is still violent no matter how you look at it. As you said you don’t advocate violence, however in a way you do because you do advocate being brutally honest and to not censor the pain your words could inflict upon another.

    I never once used the word retaliation in this post and I’m not suggesting it either. And no telling the truth is not an act of violence – it’s just telling the truth. And honestly if someone can dish it out and hurt someone why are they then exempt from being hurt? It sounds to me as though you are advocating for people who hurt others? And again, I said nothing about violent responses, this is something you are putting there that isn’t there.

    Love is forgiveness, we are love and therefore the best of what we are must forgive and do so without reservation for it is as you said the reservation that we harbor which causes the depression that we feel.
    Great post, got me thinking.

    I guess I just don’t subscribe to this belief. While I do believe that most people are basically good, I also believe that there is evil in the world and evil people. And even with good people, they sometimes do bad things – calling them out for it in my mind is only the action of having them take responsibility for their actions. I see no useful reason to validate people for bad behavior and think it’s more than appropriate to call them on it. And by doing, enables the person to move on.

    Thanks for your comments.

    WC

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