The Difference Between Forgiving and Forgetting

Saturday, December 06, 2014

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The Difference Between Forgiving and Forgetting
The trust is gone, but the fight to make it work is still going strong…or is it?

He told me he was sorry.

It meant nothing. It would never happen again. Please forgive him. He was weak, but he’ll be strong now. He promises.

I had just gotten home from the hospital. The residue of the sedatives I had been given had yet to wear off. I was exhausted, numb. I didn’t know what to think, so I said the only thing that came to mind: “Okay.”

Later, I would cry. I would scream, throw things, get angry. I would message the girl who made him weak, the girl I called my best friend, and I would say all kinds of hateful things. How could she? How could he? While I was in the hospital? How could they?

But in the moment, I said one word, and that one word was everything and nothing all at once. “Okay” meant that I forgave him, but it didn’t mean that I could forget. And I didn’t.

There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting.

Forgiving is saying “I can get past this.” It is the acknowledgement that a relationship is worth more than the transgression. It is a declaration of love.

Forgetting is saying “I am already past this.” It is putting the past in the past, and having faith in the future. It is a declaration of trust.

If you forgive without forgetting, you may have love, but you won’t have trust. Every call and text message will carry suspicion. Every girl who posts to his Facebook wall will be an enemy. Every time he forgets to say goodnight, every time he leaves to be with friends, there will be a worry in the back of your mind. Is he where he said he would be? Why hasn’t he called? I need to know what’s happening.

It will work for a while. You’ll be able to hide your distrust well. The first time you make your lack of trust known, he will understand. He will apologize. He’ll do anything you say. The second time, he’ll be mildly frustrated. Every time after that, there will be a fight because you forgave, but you can’t forget.

And why should you? Why should you forget what happened?

You think if you forget it might happen again. He’ll lose the will to be strong. He’ll find someone else. It will hurt too much. You forgave once, but how can you expect to forgive again? You know you can’t, you won’t.

But a relationship without trust is not a relationship at all. Every relationship relies on trust to survive. It’s a requirement.

I left him because I couldn’t trust him. I couldn’t forget what had happened, though I tried. I felt like I tried harder than he did to help me forget, and you have to both be trying for it to work. He still kept secrets. He still left the room to answer a call in the middle of the night from a girl I’d never met. He still broke all his promises, and was rarely where he said he’d be. It hurt every time. It hurt the most to say goodbye.

But now I know.

There’s a difference between forgiving and forgetting. You need to have both. If you can’t find a way to forgive and forget, together, then there’s no point in staying together.

Every relationship relies on trust. Without it, the relationship won’t survive.

Can you forgive and forget? Or is it time to say goodbye?

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