Thursday, June 05, 2008

Why Would You Want to Forget?

In response to David's Weekend Wandering, which asks the question, "Do you believe in forgive and forget?" I ask, "Why would you want to forget?" or even, "Should you forget?"

Reading other people's responses I found that many feel forgiveness is good, and I totally agree. It is good for you, good for your relationship, and good for the world in general. Forgiving fosters peace in everyone concerned. And peace is good.

Forgetting is a different matter. Lots of folk admitted they had a hard time forgetting. Well that's understandable. When we experience something we are supposed to learn from it, right? Remember this one? "Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!!"? You need to remember in order to process and that puts the event in permanent memory. It also helps you set the lesson learned into place thus modifying your behavior should the experience happen again. To me it seems practical to hold on to memories, even unpleasant ones. They just shouldn't take center stage after you've forgiven.

Suppose that I wanted someone to do something. I ask nicely and get a, "Ok, I'll get to it later." I patiently wait a week and ask politely again. I get the same response. I wait another week and ask a third time. This time I'm accused of nagging. Eek! Nagging can be done long term? Okay! Now I know this person's limits. Do I want to forget that? No way! Especially if I'm interested in maintaining a harmonious relationship. Knowing that also gives me a way to measure other relationships, which can come in handy.

Now, I suspect that the part about forgetting in this adage is meant to say that one should not hold grudges. Well I'm sorry but I think that not holding grudges comes from learning your lesson well and then, because you are now stronger, truly forgiving the other person. If you are holding grudges then you haven't forgiven, you aren't happy, and the relationship isn't truly back on track. My ex used to hold grudges. He held in his anger too until the situation took on a tone of doom to our marriage. And Lord help me if I had anything other than apologies to tender in response to his accusations. Do I want to forget that kind of behavior? No! I want to remember so that I can make sure the next person I choose to attach myself to emotionally doesn't do the same thing. Lesson learned.

Have I forgiven my ex? Well, pretty much. I know that it was his way and suspect it ran in his family. It's part of what caused him to leave and I'm better for that. It's partly because of that treatment that I became so determined to not be the passive, meek person I was in that marriage. I'm stronger now. Anything that makes you stronger can't be all bad. So yes, I want to forgive him. But, like the others who responded to this question, remembering does indeed make forgiveness hard. Maybe part of the forgiving comes when you experience the strength you've gained from it being effective. Then you know you're strong enough for it to no longer matter. And at that point you can probably set the experience aside and focus your life on other things.

Peace!

12 comments:

Maggie May said...

Yes..... we all seem to have problems with the forgetting. My post is similar! I was pleased to read yours and also to discover that I'm not alone in my difficulty with forgetting!

Sandi McBride said...

I think that the question was especially hard because as you say, forgiving is one thing, forgetting another. I've heard it said the he who forgets his history is doomed to repeat it, so maybe it lies along those lines, do you think? Yes, I think that you are right in what you say with the examples that you put forth. Is anyone offended? I don't know why they would be, there are not that many small minded people out in blogland, are there? If they are offended by anything you might have to say, well I say that's their problem and none of yours. Excellent post, Lee. And so glad to see you posting more often!
Hugs
Sandi

Lee said...

Hi Maggie May,

Thanks for popping in. I went over and read your post. Yes, I can see the similarities in our posts. The example of making amends you mentioned and the reaction you got would make it very hard to forget. But as you rightly pointed out, it's best not to dwell on it.

Peace!

Lee said...

Thanks Sandi. I like your saying. It falls in line with mine. I'd like to read your take on that question. Maybe someday you'll post on it too.

Hugs!

San said...

Lee, I'm a believer in letting go of hurt through rituals: sweating it out in a sweat lodge, or writing it out and burning the paper I wrote on. And of course there's always praying until the tears flow.

Lee said...

Those sound like very good ways to deal with the pain of experience, San. I've done the last 3 and someday hope to do a sweat lodge. Letting go is a really good thing to do and I think it is one of the most crucial parts of the forgiving & forgetting process.

I'm doing house keeping today. Eventually, I'll get to the tossing out step and then I'll feel freer. :)

I think I'll Google sweat lodges in TX and see if there are any available. Don't know if the Native Americans who inhabited Texas did that kind of thing or now. But we can find out. :)

Hugs!

david mcmahon said...

You're so right, Lee - forgiveness brings a peace of its own.

Lee said...

Thanks, David! Peace is at the center of most of what I do. I value it more than a lot of things in life.

Cheers!

Sandi McBride said...

COngratulations on the mention from David, deserving of mention, too, my friend!
Sandi

Lee said...

Thanks, Sandi! I was delighted when I found out.

How went your evening?

Hugs!

CrazyCath said...

Yet another response to this I have read - it seems to have struck a chord with many of us. Your answer is like many others I have read, so honest, so true. We all have such different answers, different but the same.

Thanks for sharing.

Lee said...

Hi Cath,

Yes, this topic does seem to have struck a chord. I suspect that finding a balance in our lives is one thing this business of forgiving and forgetting plays a part in. :)

Glad to see you back again.

Peace!