Friday, May 15, 2009

Forgive thats fine but forget??

A colleague asked me yesterday “Suppose you meet a friend from 20 years ago, and they had hurt you by their behavior then. Would you bring it up or let it go?”

My first thought was to tell her to let it go, its been 20 years after all. But then I really got to thinking, It had been "20 years", and she was still hurting, shouldn’t she get it out of her system. We can easily accept an apology but the pain heals very slowly and sometimes never at all. I finally told my friend to bring it up and get it off her heart. If she voiced it loud, she would feel better I hoped. My sister said to me once “If I keep quiet it’s my headache, but if I talk it becomes the other persons headache”. Selfish maybe, but self preservation is the key here.

But even though I preached this to my colleague, I never practice it. I still have some unforgotten business with a couple of people. Notice I said forgotten and not forgiven. I know people use these words interchangeably. But think about it, its easy to accept an apology, logically work out why the person hurt you and forgive. But to forget is something all together different. For me memories are tinged with emotional content. And any relationship is a sum total of your memories of that person interspersed with your own feelings towards them. So if these memories take on a bitter taste it’s hard to move past that into a pleasant relationship. Its only when these bitter memories are replaced by sweeter and more pleasant ones does the relationship actually move forward. To actually get past that memory is crux of an issue. And to that end both parties have to be willing to trust each other with their emotions again.

There are few friends who I have had hard times with. But I prefer the ones who tell me what they think I am doing wrong immediately. That way the emotion that shadows that conversation is quickly put to rest. But if a person festers a feeling for a decade and then comes out it with all of a sudden, then my own perception of that person changes. This may seem contrary to the advice I gave my colleague, but the idea is this – the bitterness has to be totally replaced, and that can be done by working through the emotions of negativity.

Ironically though I am grappling with the same situation as my colleague is with a pal of mine – Should I come out and tell her that I cant get over our last disagreement or do I just learn that nothing she says is going to change what I think about her. I usually avoid people whom I feel negative about. “Out of sight is out of mind” and I stick to that principle with a vengeance. But what if out of sight cannot happen. I am falling into the same trap my colleague has. Grappling with emotions that aren’t good for her. The logical part of my brain seems to think I have not forgiven my friend. But I know I have, it’s just the memories of our unfortunate fight, keep tinting even the smallest meeting or interaction we have and I cringe everytime we speak.
My mom always told me to choose my battles and my friends wisely. She never told me what to do when the battle was with a friend. As I induce a smile in my voice every time I talk to her, I wonder am I being false or just a good friend? . I think in the end it can be worked out only if I trust that person not to hurt me again. I love this quote of Elizabeth Edwards regarding her cheating husband,which I think applies to every hurtful relationship

"Forgiveness is a gift that I have given him, but trust -thats something he has to earn himself"

Wow, after that I really need a smile :D

It got crowded in heaven, so, for one day it was decided only to accept people who had really had a bad day on the day they died. St. Peter was standing at the pearly gates and said to the first man, "Tell me about the day you died."
The man said, "Oh, it was awful. I was sure my wife was having an affair, so I came home early to catch her with him. I searched all over the apartment but couldn't find him anywhere. So I went out onto the balcony, we live on the 25th floor, and found this man hanging over the edge by his fingertips. I went inside, got a hammer, and started hitting his hands. He fell, but landed in some bushes. So, I got the refrigerator and pushed it over the balcony and it crushed him. The strain of the act gave me a heart attack, and I died."

St. Peter couldn't deny that this was a pretty bad day, and since it was a crime of passion, he let the man in.

He then asked the next man in line about the day he died. "Well, sir, it was awful," said the second man. "I was doing aerobics on the balcony of my 26th floor apartment when I twisted my ankle and slipped over the edge. I managed to grab the balcony of the apartment below, but some maniac came out and started pounding on my fingers with a hammer. Luckily I landed in some bushes. But, then the guy dropped a refrigerator on me!"

St. Peter chuckled, let him into heaven and decided he could really start to enjoy this job.

"Tell me about the day you died?", he said to the third man in line.

"OK, picture this, I'm naked, hiding inside a refrigerator ..."

Keep Smilin ppl

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Blogger Vignesh said...

How complex the mind actually is... As you said does the mind really forgive and accept people? I have a colleague whose intentions im clear off, I don't prefer speaking with him but still when i do i speak like there is nothing between us but only i know the complex ripples that keep floating in me during the times!!

Forgiveness is a gift that I have given him, but trust -thats something he has to earn himself

So true!

1:26 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

I find it easy to forgive but I find it very hard to forget...blame my MIND! :)


5:02 PM  
Blogger The Seeker said...

Liked your post very much, made me quite introspective, there had been many times when I’d this conflict inside me. Have you ever noticed how we4 readily forgive, but actually take a life=time to forget, The very act of forgiving is just a self massage of our own ego. And of cos the very act of forgiving shows how bloated are we with egos…

and my regards to k and v

1:16 AM  
Blogger Shankari said...


liked the story!

First time here. Hope to read more.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

Nice post , Its quite difficult to forget and eventhough sometimes I pretend to take the high road and forgive , deep within I am not quite sure if I really forgive :). . . .awesome joke as always :)

9:29 AM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Anu... you touched upon one of those topics which nvr attains conclusion :)

My take on this... I guess its more to do with the individual to Forget or Not. To me Forgive is "Yes" & Forget is "Subjective". I can nvr forget things which deeply hurt me. irony is I can forget most emotional outbursts but nt the subtle cunning ones or dishonesty. In that way I have lot of unfisnished business... I dnt liner abt them everyday but given an opprtunity I will settle it in my own way :)

BTW.. hope the lil one is doign good

8:48 AM  
Blogger Shri said...


when you truly forgive you forget and when you forget you have truly forgiven......

watch every thought that comes to your mind when you think of the events/person you cant escape....just watch it dont judge or justify it

1:02 AM  
Blogger Anu said...

@Vignesh:I hope you sort it out with ur colleague, but colleagues keep passing through,so it wont last i hope
@Keshi:Me too!
@Barath:Ego.. ur right abt that ,never every thought abt that angle
@shankari :WElcome and thks
@Priya:Yes,it always irks
@Muthu:Ur right, I dont want to think about it, but sometimes it just crops us right in my face
@Shri:Maybe ur right, but this is my take, forgetting is not easy, replacing is better. Im not judging just commenting on the human mind

11:27 AM  
Blogger Sriram said...

my take: forgive, but never forget.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Compassionate Capitalist said...

My take is that forgiving helps you forget and it is the beginning of that path/process. If you have not forgiven, then you cannot forget. So, if you have not forgotten, that means you never forgave to begin with. :) first time here. Enjoyed reading your posts. Cheers!

10:48 PM  
Blogger MAN IN PAINTING said...

nice post.
the greatest gift human mind has is the power to forget.
liked the theme and the way you presented it.

4:01 AM  
Blogger Trevor Mark said...

"Forgiveness is a gift that I have given him, but trust -thats something he has to earn himself"

...nice line that, Anu! :) And with this post, you've made inroads that could delve into a Robbin's OB text! Welcome to my space... ;)

1:09 AM  

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