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A Meditation on Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the modern equivalent of snake oil. Dazzled believers feel cured while skeptics are pushed to the back of the crowd. As social animals, we have to protect the group dynamic sometimes at the cost of the individual. In some cases, there is nothing left to do. All the shouting has been ignored and to save our sanity we are willing to try anything just to let the hurt go. We accept their apology in person or absentia and try to turn away. Their acts so damning that our forgiveness of them has shifted into resentment. Nothing has been solved and further additional negative feelings have been accumulated. Thus begins a cycle of resentment-forgiveness-resentment.

There is another less prescribed action that involves just letting feelings be and moving through them. It will be awkward at first. We have been socially trained that the person who does not accept the apology is almost as guilty as the transgressor. Most of this guilt has roots in religion. We seek the same salvation from a higher power that someone may be seeking from us. Humans continuously fail, yet redemption is always possible. Like second chances, mercy is the way salvation until one day it is not.

In my experience going down the rabbit hole of dark emotions gives one a magical protection. Not in the whatever doesn’t kill you make you stronger school of nonsense, but cohabitating with darkness adds a sense of stability to your emotional scheme when you can identify with more than five basic emotions. The endless merry go round chase for happiness has to stand still at some point and we have to be able to look around and really feel our lives with our available emotions.

I often wonder where all unexpressed emotions go. Purportedly they travel to parts of our bodies to manifest in chronic pains. Anything is possible, but these feelings are generally just under the surface looking for the right time to reappear and wreak havoc. We try to get rid of any emotional discomfort quickly because we are alarmed when we cannot smile. The real fear is allowing our negative emotions to have breathing room and become part of our lives. It would be a new direction for us Americans to admit anything other than hysterical happiness.

Our buried emotions could be placed next to our lighter ones and we could finally see simultaneous shades of happiness and anger. Think of how much happier our Thanksgiving dinners would be if no one were sick of denying his or her emotions. Requests for passing the gravy would not dissolve someone into tears or result in thrown turkey (true story). Coping is a far stronger action than denial through forgiveness. We need a chance to allow our emotions to evolve without a time limit and a toe tap from other people. There have not been any recorded instances of someone dying from being unforgiven or abstaining from forgiveness. Who know what may happen. Anger could turn into drive when taken down a notch. Sadness could induce empathy and anxiety could adjust into healthy caution. We owe it to ourselves to see forgiveness as an option, but not the only way.