A wise person once told me that there was an invisible line in every relationship. I'm not talking about just romantic relationships. The invisible line theory applies to all types of relationships. You can forgive, forget, or fake forgiveness or forgetting, but once you've gone "there" and crossed that invisible line, there is no coming back.
I've given up many relationships - romantic and otherwise - because I'm not capable of forgiving and forgetting. I have cast off many people that were once very important to me because I just can't get past that invisible line.
There are certain things that can be forgiven, and certain things that can't. The invisible line dictates what's forgivable and what's not, and it's different for every one and at every time. You lend your friend your favorite earrings and she loses them. Forgivable. Your husband forgets your birthday. Also forgivable. Lying, cheating, or hurting someone's children? Absolutely unforgivable. Unless I gave birth to someone, they are not entitled to my unconditional forgiveness. I forgive myself for not forgiving someone else. (See "Faking It" below.)
Forgetting comes after forgiving. So far in my life, I have not accomplished this even once. Short of amnesia, I can't think of how anyone could, or why someone would want to. How can you forget? If you forgot that someone lost your earrings, wouldn't you lend them another pair and (possibly) lose another pair? I guess you could forget the birthday scenario, but let's say you do, and the love of your life misses your birthday again the next year. Isn't that worse? A two time offender? Forgetting, in my opinion, is the same as excusing bad behavior. It's not an option.
This is for people who, even though they really try, just can't see past something, so they fake it. There are some cases where you have to fake it just to keep the peace, or for the sake of others involved that you don't want to get hurt in the crossfire. Lots of people do that. Think about your ex for a minute. You don't want your kids to know that you think the other parent is the biggest idiot on Earth, so you fake it. Or you pretend to like your in-laws for the sake of your spouse. Or you just have a lot of history with someone, and you think that if you just let this one thing go, you'll eventually stop being angry with them. (See "Forgiving" above.)
The problem with faking it is that it works. You don't hurt anyone's feelings...but your own.
Take the ex for instance. Your kids are now grown, and you're really sick and tired of them talking about how great he is. However, you've put up this little act for so long, that when you finally stop pretending, your adult children can't accept the fact that you really do think the other parent is a waste of oxygen. Now you've hurt the people that you tried so hard to protect for so many years.
Or, you pretend you weren't bothered by the loss of your favorite earrings. And everything your friend does just keeps irking you, because you still haven't gotten over the fact that she didn't care enough to take care of your things. And every time she does something that you don't agree with, you just get more and more pissed off. You're miserable. You start to think of all the things in that long history you're trying to protect that have bothered you over the years. You start to realize that some of it is, indeed, unforgivable. You just never noticed how bad it all was until now. You see that you've been faking it for longer than you think you have.
And the in-laws? Chances are, you're never really going to like them. And they're never really going to like you. There are exceptions, and some women are very lucky to have phenomenal in-laws. For those that aren't, though, you pretend for the sake of your spouse. You sit through all those stupid dinners and family functions, boiling inside because you know that as soon as you leave, those people that are nice to your face are going to talk about what you said, how you looked, or simply the fact that they wish he would have stayed with so-and-so, because at least she was a good cook. And holiday after holiday, family barbecue after family barbecue, your spouse asks you to go to these things, because it would make the holiday better for him. So you go again, and you wonder why doesn't he care about making the day better for you by letting you skip it. And then you begin to resent him for not caring about your feelings.
So what's better? Forgiving, Forgetting, or Faking It? I choose an entirely different option all together.
At one point, I was at a pretty low point in my life, and I sought therapy. My therapist noted that all of my "problems" were with the way other people were treating me. She informed me that people don't change. They adapt to new situations and surroundings, and situations can change, but the core of a person never changes. And neither will my feelings about the way they treat me. If I wanted these people to stop hurting me, I had to let them go. At first I thought she was the crazy one. Yet week after week, we would have the same conversation. I would complain about the way people were treating me, and she would tell me that I can't change other people. Finally, I took her advice, and after years and years of faking it with everyone, I gave up. I was so tired of being depressed and miserable. I decided that I was going to live for me, and that if people couldn't treat me the way I felt they should, I didn't need them. As a result, I broke away from many friends and family members. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done. It sounds totally insane, and it's not the answer for everyone, but honestly, I can't say I regret it. Not only is faking it a lot of work, it's useless. I spent all those years miserable and hurt because I was allowing people in my life that only brought me down. These days, I can count the number of true friends I have one one hand. And I'm fine with that. I don't hurt anymore. In some way, letting those people go has allowed me to forgive them. I no longer harbor resentment toward any of them, but I don't want any of them back in my life either..
What do you do? Forgive, Forget, or Fake It?
More from living