I’ve always had a great capacity for forgiving, mostly because I realized very early on that holding grudges really only created self inflicted pain, and the only thing I hate worse than other people hurting me is me hurting myself. I have always fancied myself to be the kind of person that could see a friend who she fell out with and at least be courteous, that could come across a no-longer-so-significant other and his newest acquisition of significance and genuinely wish them the best. For the most part, with a few notable exceptions, I have kept myself quite nicely from holding grudges against those who have fallen by the wayside of my expectations. I can forgive most transgressions.
Not so much.
That secondary function has always failed me. I’m not sure why. But as much as I can forgive, I can never quite seem to forget. Does that mean that I have not truly forgiven? Is it not so much forgiving as it is learning to live with the weight of the disappointment? What do you do when you just can’t forget?
I have been talking to The Great Houdini. Everyday pretty much for awhile now. Emails, texts, IMs, we’ve lived in the land of the written word. It had been building up, this onslaught of communication, birthed from a particularly nasty email I sent him months ago. More angry words sent through cyberspace, answered with his own self depreciating acceptance of all blame. He didn’t shy away from my wrath. Eventually, the anger tapered off into long late night missives sent saying those raw, honest things you say in the melancholy hours between midnight and daybreak when all of the anger is gone and you’re overwhelmed with sadness at the way things have turned out. And that was it. We said what we needed to say. And we were done.
Then one morning, at the start of an immensely horrible day at work, I get an email from him.
What’s your favorite cartoon character?
I smiled so big. Back when we were we, when we were happy, if one of us was going through something particularly trying, we’d play the favorites game. We’d trade questions back and forth throughout the day, sometimes serious (What’s your favorite day of your life?) and sometimes silly (What’s your favorite sour candy?). It never failed to make us both smile, and somewhere along the way, we’d unearth even more ways we were similar.
It struck me, that morning, sitting in my car with my head in my hands, that he is so skilled at cutting to the heart of me that he had the power to change the course of my day with just a sentence. All day, we emailed back and forth, his words being the buoy that kept me afloat in the sea of bullshit that was going on at work. It grew from there.
But at some point, it wasn’t cute anymore. With every sentence, every word, I found myself losing my eloquence. Suddenly, I had nothing to talk about, could not muster anything more than one word replies to any and everything he said. I couldn’t bring myself to speak in anything other than monosyllables.
I couldn’t pretend anymore than nothing had happened. I couldn’t forget that just a few short months ago we had all but imploded, a blow that, when compounded with the force of all the other debris swirling in the storm around me at that time, succeeded in shattering my entire life in the process.
I don’t think we should talk anymore.
If that’s what you need then I’ll stop bothering you.
I don’t know why, given the overwhelming evidence of the last couple months, I thought there would be more of a fight. Or at least, the question as to why, considering the context of our conversations over the last few weeks. In my own mind I resigned myself that this was It; that doing what I’d done was what I needed to do.
You’re not bothering me. But I can’t keep talking to you and pretending nothing happened.
I didn’t expect you to anyway. I’m surprised you talked to me this long.
I wanted to say, “Yeah, me too.” But it seemed cruel and unnecessarily mean. I decided that maybe, for once, I wouldn’t be cavalier or pretend to be okay.
I don’t really know how to talk to you anymore. And I don’t think you really have enough room for me in your life or are really interested in making any. And I won’t have my feelings hurt again.
I can tell you don’t know how to talk to me and it’s all my fault. Would you ever want to be in my life again?
Part of me still wants to be the person you grow old with, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. And I don’t think I can pretend to be your friend.
And that was that.
I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t something soothing about the rhythm of our conversations the last few weeks. And I’d also be lying if I said that it didn’t make me uncomfortable enough, unsettled enough, to want to do something different. I thought I could handle a lot more than I was probably ready for, but I thought that as long as I’d forgiven him, that anything else could be worked out, that eventually it could all fall into place and we could at least be cordial. One day.
But I can’t. I can’t forget.
I’ll never forget.