G*dd*mn M*th*rf*ck*ng Forg*ven*ss

The sleep of reason produces monsters, Francisco Goya, 1799.

Forgiveness. Fucking sigh. It’s probably the hardest thing in the world to do. Sure, it’s easy to forgive someone for stepping on your toe, but I’m talking about the kind of offenses that will change your entire life, or at least, your outlook. Although, some people would probably consider toe-stepping to be a serious infraction, especially if one is wearing fancy footwear.

I heard a story about an older lady named Sadie. She was sexually abused by both her uncle and her brother. She promised herself when she was only ten years old that she would never allow herself to get so angry that she’d want to kill someone. Sadie said, “I can’t hold a grudge in my heart. I would like to, but I can’t. What good would it do me to hold a grudge? He’s dead and gone. Both of them are. I can’t live my life that way. I can’t let him still define my life after he’s dead and gone.”

My first thought was that it was easy for her to forgive since both her brother and her uncle are dead. I quickly realized just how insane that thought was. As if it’s ever easy to forgive something like that. The next slightly more appropriate thoughts I had were, “You’re lucky you have that kind of strength.” and “I wish I could do that.”

There are two monsters in this world that I can’t forgive. Honestly, even if both of them were dead, I’m not sure I could forgive them, although, like I said, it might be a little easier. If they were gone, I wouldn’t be tormented constantly by the thought that they’re still out there possibly doing the same things to someone else and I am powerless to stop it again. Those monsters have the kind of freedom that I will never have. It seems like it would be easier to forgive and forget if they weren’t still a threat. If they weren’t still out there, occasionally trying to seek my forgiveness, I think it might be easier.

That story was not the first I’ve heard of abused people who have forgiven their abusers, but there was something about Sadie that struck home. Her words came right up and smacked me across the face. “Well, why can’t you forgive?” I thought to myself. “Carrying around a box of hate isn’t good for anyone.” And then I thought about just who it was that I would be bestowing forgiveness upon and for what, and I wanted to murder. Just thinking about giving forgiveness makes me angry.

I probably need to forgive. I need to stop being so angry. I need the bile to stop coming up and the fingers to stop shaking, but I honestly don’t have the first clue how to do that. I have forgiven myself for the most part. I know it’s not my fault. At least, rationally I know. Yet, there’s still some small part of me, the abused little girl part of me buried deep inside, that thinks it’s her fault. No matter how much I try to convince her it’s not, she doesn’t understand.Β  She says, “I must have done something to deserve it, otherwise it just doesn’t make any sense. How could a world exist where monsters prey for no reason?” I tell her that nothing makes sense in this world. Monsters exist and they prey on whomever they want, but somehow that just makes her sadder. She doesn’t want to live in a world where nothing makes sense. She wants to have a reason and there is none.

The text says, “The sleep of reason produces monsters.” Francisco Goya, 1799.

Strangely, she’s the one who would be able to forgive, not me. I am full of rage and bile. She is full of doubt and guilt. She is the one who has to forgive and I have to allow her to, but the urge to protect her is so strong. In order to forgive, she has to face it and I don’t want her to, so I don’t let her. I want to spare her from going through that again. Instead, I walk around angry at the world, which is only furthering the damage the monsters did. I am the person the monsters turned me into and that just makes me angrier.

I am only one possible future of that little girl. There are others in there, too. Within me, live all the different versions of myself and I protect them all with a blade instead of a mother’s love. Unlike Sadie, my ten year old self made no such promises regarding not getting angry and not perpetrating violence. I think if I were put in a room with those monsters and a gun with at least two rounds, there would be two fewer monsters in the world. But the little girl stops me. She says it wouldn’t change anything. We still can’t come to an agreement on things.

I am strong on the outside, but that little girl is much stronger than I am. We both know it. She knows more than I do. She sees more because she’s not blinded by rage. She sees fear, but she also sees potential. She has the potential for forgiveness. I do not.

So, how do we forgive? How do we look monsters in the eye and forgive them? I honestly have no idea. I’d still like to see those monsters dead, not by my hand, but dead just the same. I think I would sleep easier. If they were dead, preferably in a horrible torturous way, I might start to be able to forgive.