The phrase "forgive, but never forget" is spoken so loosely by people that don't understand the weight such words hold. Self-proclaimed motivators declare that forgiving is the key to healing. Semi-convinced people proclaim they'll forgive, but they certainly won't forget. But I disagree with both. I will never forgive the person my bully, nor do they deserve my forgiveness.
Some may call me bitter, weak, or immature and to those of you, I say experience the years of abuse and self-destruction I endured because of a single human. And once it's over, decide whether you would forgive or chuck forgiveness under a moving bus. How can you forgive someone that deliberately hurt you?
Most kids in school want to be popular or be friends with the popular kids. Unfortunately for a few years, I made friends with the most popular kid in school. It felt like a privilege to be his "friend" so I did everything in my power to please and be validated by him. I became apart of his clique and performed in all the games and the task they requested me to do, regardless of how brash or offensive the task might be to me.
Before long the true intentions of the "friendship" was laid out on the table. I was being humiliated, turned into a punching bag, disowned, and all of this I accepted because I wanted to believe in the good-heartedness of my bully. I forgave him countless times until one day I decided that he didn't deserve my forgiveness. I felt relieved about my decisions, but then he befriended a whole slew of people.
And then he gave his new friends consent to bully and attack me. He relished at the sight of me having to go up against all his new friends. Five against one and sometimes he'd cluster an entire class to bully and criticize me. His life continued, but mine was destroyed. There was never a point in my life when I had been so low. It haunted me every day. It made it worse that the entire school loved him. There could never be justice for me.
I hated everyone for loving him when I knew he was only a wolf in sheep's clothing. I denied myself happiness not because I refused to forgive him, but because I wanted to forgive him. There was nothing more in me, but the desire to hear him say "let's be friends again" even after all the bullying and abuse I suffered at his hand. My mind was poisoned by the idea that only forgiving my bully would fix me or help me forget what happened. It was like torture trying to make a reason why I should forgive him when there weren't any.
Genuine happiness only arrived in my life when I stopped attempting to forgive someone who didn't deserve it. I told him everything about what happened, how it affected me, and how he should change to stop doing it to other people who were in my shoes. Of course, it went in one ear and out the other.
The moment I accepted my bully for the person he was, a new era began in my life. I learned how to accept what happened to me, the unfairness of it, and accept that maybe he didn't deserve to be forgiven. And not forgiving him didn't matter at the end of the day because it's not about forgiving him and excusing what he did. It's about showing yourself that what happened will never be ok, but you are more than that to let it happen again.
Just because you choose not to forgive, it doesn't mean you can't acknowledge the circumstances, learn from it, and avoid repeating it. Forgiveness should be earned.
The doors to forgiveness open when the bully or wrongdoer genuinely acknowledging the atrociously of their actions and the serious disruptions it caused in your life. But that's not enough. The bully must feel an immense amount of guilt because that's when they're willing to prove how regretful and apologetic they are for their behavior. I deeply wanted him to substantiate that he had changed. For me, but also for himself. Through this process, I have learned you can't control another person's behavior and you can't force someone to do something they don't want to do, including making a compromise.
Forgiveness comes at a price. A reward that is earned not owned. So it will always be anyone's personal decision of forgiving a person who has wronged them. There's nothing worse than sugar-coating the truth and acting as if it never happened. That's when you're living a false image of being happy and deep inside that makes moving on even harder. I will never forgive my bully and the acceptance of the fact is what gave me the closure to move on. I've never been happier in my life and I know who I am and what I've endured. Never feel obligated to forget or forgive those parts of your life because they make you who you are and who you'll become.