The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.
How wonderful it is to finally forgive – to joyfully rid ourselves of the painstaking emotions, keeping us locked in a downward spiral of the past? So what happens when the memories of how we were hurt in the first place are not easily forgotten?
In the last weeks of my beloved Mom’s battle with lung cancer she decided to open up about the person who hurt her the most—my Dad. Her animosity wasn’t from the lack of serious painkillers, however. Experiences I never thought she’d take to heart or enrage her, did in fact, and without a barrage of hostility waiting patiently to emerge. She admitted that she forgave, but didn’t forget. I shuddered at the thought. It was almost as if she never wanted to forget and felt the need to re-live the nothingness of a past that didn’t serve her. I vividly remember her making that exact statement after a bitter argument she had with a family member. I wondered…was there anything I did that she forgave me for, but didn’t forget?
When we forgive, there is a personal freedom that lifts the weight of guilt; not only for those who have inflicted pain, but for the inflicted. None of us have the ability to control the thoughts that ultimately lead to the actions of others, but we can surely be aware of how we choose to accept those actions as our truth.
Forgetting doesn’t necessarily equate to ignoring or pacifying the situation. To forget means to release the identification with the past and the memory that so often becomes imprisoned in it.
During one of the last conversations with my Mom I knew she didn’t have much time. She was having trouble breathing, and even the oxygen tank she was hooked up to wasn’t helping very much. Knowing all of this, one morning I felt compelled to wake her from a deep sleep.
“Mom, I’m so sorry for everything I did. I’m a bad daughter!” This was an obvious attempt at hiding behind the ego. I was determined to feel guilty – about anything, to redeem myself from the pain of losing her. With tears streaming down her cheeks she replied, “You weren’t a bad daughter. You were a good daughter. Now, let’s forget about that.” Yes, Mom. With your help I am learning, slowly but surely, how to forget as well.
About Michelle Cruz Rosado
Michelle Cruz Rosado is a professional speaker and bestselling co-author of "Pursuing Your Destiny: How to Overcome Adversity and Achieve Your Dreams." Follow Michelle for inspiring messages and quotes.