“How do we forgive the people who have wronged us?”
“How or why?”
“How. I already know why… I think.”
“You think? You forgive because if you don’t — you are the only one you harm. Right?”
I put the book of Mexican recipes face down onto my chest. Think about. I can’t be flippant when speaking of forgiveness:
“Something like that.”
That still sounded flippant. I amend:
“I forgive because otherwise it’s too heavy. It becomes spite, or even hatred.”
I actually think I am allergic to both. This last time around, I wore a rash on my chin until it stopped mattering, I guess.
“And I forgive because I am still looking for new stories. When there is no forgiveness, I just keep replaying the old one too much. Until I get sick of it. Until it stops mattering, I guess.”
Until I get sick of it. Is that what happens with me, eventually: I dig for reasons, I cross-examine for long enough to get sick of the whole story? Because most of the time, the reasons don’t become apparent. Not completely. There are glimpses, of course; and most of them are rooted in some sort of pleasure — or satisfaction at least — on the part of the other.
The people who wrong us seek something that they think they deserve. They deserve us: our goodness, our sex, our beauty.
And some would call that love.
“What would you call it?” he asks me. He is lying on his side, facing the wall, away from me. The wall is baby blue.
“I dunno,” I say, pick up the book with the Mexican recipes and start flipping through it again: I am done figuring it out! “I dunno! But I definitely don’t call it ‘love’!”
The pictures in the book are delicious. Delectable. I secretly daydream of my future bakery: It would be so good for my soul!
“Love ought to be selfless,” I resume. I guess I am not done figuring it out. “I love for the sake — for the benefit — of the other person, as much as I do for my own.”
“That’s not true!” he says and finally rolls over onto his back to look at me. “I’ve seen you love, love. You often love — despite yourself.”
I want to laugh but feel slightly defensive: “Well. That’s just what I do!”
I get a mighty hold of the book jacket and start skipping the section on meats: I don’t want to know!
He is waiting for the rustle of the flipping pages to stop. “That’s what you do alright. But that’s not good either. You can’t keep sacrificing yourself like that.”
I still want to laugh.
“At least, at the end, I needn’t be forgiven,” I say.
I’ve found some great comfort in that, before. Even pride. Because when I leave, I don’t take much with me. I don’t take away a former love’s dignity. I don’t destroy the self-esteem. And I only carry away the things that have always belonged to me.
So, no: I don’t take much with me. And I don’t take away much either. But the weight of trying to forgive — is quite heavy, and I choose to lug it with me for a while. Until it stops mattering, I guess.
I dig. I cross-examine. I recycle. I search for the reasons until I realize that the reasons may never become fully apparent. There are glimpses, of course. But the consolation they offer aren’t strong enough of a painkiller. So, I continue to dig, thinking that if only I find all the reasons — it will stop hurting completely.
“But how much of yourself do you leave behind?” He is now staring at the ceiling. It’s white.
I stop flipping the pages, put down the book face down onto my chest and start staring at his spot as well. (Are those fingerprints on the ceiling?)
I may leave. I may take the things that have always belonged to me. But when I keep the connection — just so that I can continue cross-examining, digging — I linger. And in lingering, I leave parts of me behind.
How do we forgive the people who have wronged us?
I am afraid that my previous “how” — is just a theory, and with time I’ve learned that it doesn’t really work. I never find the complete reasons: I only find reaffirmations of the others’ previous choice to wrong me. The original choice to deserve: my goodness, my sex, my beauty. My generosity. My love.
And then, there is this forgiveness:
“Time,” he says. “You give it time.” He is still staring at the ceiling.
“Kinda like putting it to rest? long before it’s ready?” I am studying his spot: Fingerprints.
If I put it to rest, the story won’t stop mattering. Instead, it will remain as a tale of Just Because. And I have to have enough patience — enough self-love — to leave it at that.
Because there are glimpses of reasons, of course; but not even the most powerful empathy can make me understand these reasons completely. So, I should just let them be theoretical. Otherwise, it’s too heavy. And I only harm myself.
And after enough time, the reasons stop mattering completely.
I let it be — I let them be — in time and silence.
And I let myself be light and kind, as someone who needn’t be forgiven.