Monday, February 6, 2012

Forgive and Forget

Or is it forgive and never forget?  Or is it never forgive but eventually forget?  Or my go-to, never forgive and never, ever forget!  As my husband always tells me, I love to stew about things and hold on to too many grudges.  What brings on this post?  I'm glad you asked.

I had the pleasure of reading a short story of mine to a group of wonderful writers this past Friday.  High Hill Press held an open mic night at Sage Books in the Frenchtown district of Saint Charles, MO so I figured I'd better start getting my name and works out there for all to hear.  My fictional short story incorporated some aspects of my life and starred my alter-ego, Jane.  In the story Jane has to come to grips with the fact that people she thought were her best friends pretty much dumped her when they didn't approve of her moving away and getting married.  This really did happen to me and it haunts me to this very day. 

Five years ago I made the decision to move to St. Louis and start my life anew with the man I knew I would marry and spend the rest of my life with.  You would think that would elicit happiness from people you've known for more than ten years and have been with you through pretty much everything.  Well, the opposite happened.  I can understand that people get upset at the prospect of having a dear friend or family member move far away but you usually accept it and move on with life.  Not these people.  From the moment I made my announcement they shunned me from our circle of friends and never made an effort to contact me once I had made the move.

Aside from the actual deed, which angers me to no end, what makes me even more angry is that I will never know why they did it.  I was too angry and hurt to compose myself long enough to ask why.  And they were apparently too angry at me to even bother talking to me at all.  The eternal questions of "Why?" and "What if?" are enough to make you crazy.

So what does one do?  I can't bring myself to forgive much less forget.  But the act of doing neither makes me sick to my stomach which in turn affects my health.  As I sit here and type this post Ivan is doing somersaults and apparently trying to stand on his head.  It's a vicious circle that I find myself in and I really cannot see the exit sign.  I've actually contemplated getting in touch with said friends to get to the bottom of this but I can't bring myself to do it.  I even have dreams about it which for me is quite telling.  But I feel that that line of communication needs to start with them since they made the initial cutting-off.

This is where I am today and am hoping I don't end up in a funk right alongside Ivan.  Man, he is a pesky little monster!  What do you all do with situations where you don't know whether to forgive and/or forget?

In the immortal words of the genius that is Leonard Cohen here are some lyrics from his song "So Long Marianne":

I'm standing on a ledge and your fine spider web
Is fastening my ankle to a stone.
Now so long, Marianne, it's time that we began
to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.

Happy Monday to you all!  I shall spend mine thinking about the way the world works and how certain people play certain roles in your life.  Everyone we know comes in and out for a reason and it is our job to figure out why and what.


  1. First, How brave and determined are you to confront an open mic! That is a terror many of cannot face. Yes, I dare say that most writers incorporate bits of ourselves and experiences into our work. "Write what you know" right?

    Second, How wonderful that you have married the man of your heart's desire! I wonder how many of your old "friends" have this blessing?

    Third, Who knows why people act the way they do? Jealousy, selfishness, fear of change, peer pressure, whatever. Finally getting an answer may help, or make it worse. You may want to contact the one of them who had the most sense, for some kind of resolution, just know the answer may not help you.

    And Last, One thing you can know for sure is that forgiveness is not for the other party - it is for yourself. As you say, grudges affect "us" more than "them". Forgiveness is an act which brings peace of mind, without changing the circumstances. It is an inside kind of thing. Trust me, I've spent years learning the art of it. I couldn't do it alone either, so relied on the epitome of example. It is so worth it!


    1. Hi MG,
      I have to say that I enjoy public speaking but always suffer a bit of nervousness when walking up to the microphone. Thankfully I was within a wonderful group of supporting writers and my nerves quickly settled down. You have to start somewhere, right?

      Your words about forgiveness and looking for answers ring true. I may not like the answers I get which will lead to more anxiety I don't need. That is the main reason I have not initiated contact with anyone from my past. I can very much understand how forgiveness can bring about peace of mind and yet, my mind resists! It's something I will have to work on and hopefully an aspect of myself I can improve on.

      Thank you for stopping by and your kind words. rebeca.

  2. I have a lot of experience in the forgive and forget department; with friends, an abusive ex-husband, etc. My thought is this: You cannot run from it forever. You will always wonder why it all went down the way it did and it will always affect you which in turn affects your health. Contact the person you felt closest to in that group of friends and just be direct. Ask for answers. They may not be the answers you want and you may never be friends with these people again but you will be free of the emotional hold that this situation has on you and THEN you can learn from it and move on. I know I make it sound easy and it is not.

    You have to forgive for yourself like MG said. You are worth it. Good luck!

    1. Hi Christine,
      I guess what I need to work on now is, do I really want the answers? I do and I don't. And since I can't decide I have done nothing about it for 5 years now. I know of a good way to start I just need to take that first step.

      Thanks for stopping by! rebeca.

  3. I've had a couple of friends who were "best" friends, those kindred souls (at least, I thought we were). But I realized after YEARS of friendship....I didn't mean as much to them, as they did to me, etc. It's really hard to accept, but in both cases, when I DID attempt to ask questions and find out some of the "Whys" of it all...I never got "good" answers...nothing that really explained it, etc. And when I tried to dig deeper, they closed up more. And these were entirely different friends, in different eras of my life. As I write this, I realize it sounds like maybe I was the problem.....which is something I surely don't believe! What I'm trying to say, in a round about way is, sometimes no matter what, you just don't get the answers you're looking for, and it could make it worse, as MG said. If you can work on "letting go", that's what I'd suggest.... As Joan Rivers says, "Can we talk?" see you soon!

    1. Do you know that I have been in that boat more times than I can count? When I moved out here 5 years ago I became good friends with a neighbor and then one day the communication between us started to diminish. We used to talk everyday but soon it became 3 or 4 times a week and now it's down to nothing. I haven't heard from her in nearly a year and she lives around the corner from me! It's things like that that I don't understand. My only thought is these people in our lives drifted on to other friendships without any thought to the existing ones. What can you do besides move on?

      So here's to moving on and maybe getting a good story out of in the process! Cheers!

  4. Just be happy I came into your life. ;o)

  5. Hi Rebeca,
    The story you read Friday night was wonderful. You had us all leaning forward on our chairs, and I'm glad you joined our critique group. You are a ray of sunshine, and you offer great advice on how to make our stories shine.

    1. Hi Donna,
      Thank you so much for your sweet words! As I was reading my story I couldn't help but think, "Is anyone else finding this interesting or am I the only one?". I'm glad to hear that yes, it was enjoyed. Being part of the critique group has not only made me a better writer (with room for improvement!) but also a better listener to people's stories and finding helpful ways to make those stories better and stronger. Tuesday is by far the best day of the week!

  6. Hi Rebeca
    I am starting to realize there are a lot of us out there going through the same thing, or having gone through the same thing. I once had an entire group of friends completely abandon me one day, they wouldn't look at me or talk to me (and this was in high school, which when you are in high school it is even worse I feel). It was seriously like I just woke up one day and every one hated me. I lost my entire group or close friends. I couldn't understand why at the time. 2 apologized later that year and one even apologized a couple of years ago. All that I knew back then was that they didn't like my "jokes".. I spoke the language of sarcasm. Reflecting now on sarcasm and what it really is, and "jokes" that aren't actually funny but hurtful- (even though they "don't really mean it") its ugly. Bottom line. Though I feel this group of friends went about it in the wrong way and it only made me more bitter and angry, I can understand who I was and why they didn't like it. Sometimes you don't need answers from other people but a true reflection of yourself.
    I am not saying that you are the problem by any means but what do you put out into the world? Is it negative? Sarcastic? Hurtful? Draining?
    Clearly, which I have come to terms with, is that I wouldn't want to be friends with people that could one day just wake up and cast me off as though I didn't exist. I don't want to be friends with people who don't like me. Why waste effort on terrible people when you can focus on the good relationships you do have. It's hard. Usually there is nothing people can do or say who have treated you awful to make up for the amount of hurt you have gone through.

    I don't know if this was helpful at all and hopefully it wasn't off putting... I am still trying to figure some things out myself and it helps talking about it .. so Thanks :)