Do we ever really forgive and forget?

We often ask the question of people, “Are you a glass half full or half empty sort of person?”, but wondering if a person is quick to forgive is not so common. However today the daily prompt is asking just that.

And I ask myself what sort of an individual am I?photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rafa_tenorio/9411739393/">rafa tenório</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

My initial thought is that I am generally very forgiving. Most people who upset or annoy me do not usually set out to do so. They make my blood pressure rise for a short while, I may even go on a major rant, but usually within  hours I move on.

So that would mean I am forgiving in nature wouldn’t it?

But if I am honest I am not so sure. There are many things in my life which have angered me. As I sit here tonight I wonder, am I an expert in denial and suppression, or am I a person with a forgiving nature? Have I forgiven because I have truly forgotten, or is it just that I have buried past wrongs?

I don’t normally spend any time dwelling on past wrongs. Yet as I think of them tonight, I realise that even though some of them are of a serious nature and some very minor, they all elicit the same response. My anger is no greater for one over another. Remembering them just makes me “angry”.

Many years ago, as a junior nurse I was working on a general surgical ward. I had been looking forward to this six week post, as the ward sister was liked by most who worked with her, which usually meant the ward would be a pleasant place to work. It was getting close to my finishing time and I was admitting a middle aged man. I stayed on a bit late to complete all the paper work. One of the nurses who had come on duty passed me by. I called to her and explained that I had finished the admission, and asked her would she mind putting the gentleman’s clothes away in a locker on the corridor. I showed her the finished clothes list and said I’d signed it already but to be sure to write on it what number locker she put his clothes into.

Now if I am to be honest this nurse and I were not best pals. She was a year younger than I was, and well connected to one of the top management in the hospital. However she was, in my opinion, not nursing material. I had already had an issue with her for taking the bell off an elderly lady because she rang it too often. This was only one of many run ins we had had.

I explained to the gentleman that I was heading home and the other nurse would look after him. Job done, or so I thought. Three weeks later I was called into the office and a furious ward sister went off her trolley at me. Seemingly she had spent ages going through every locker on the ward, as the number had never been written on his clothes list, but to add to her embarrassment was the fact that when she did find his clothes they were not hung up but had been thrown in the locker. His suit, shirt etc were so crushed she had taken them away to the laundry to be ironed.

I stood red as a beetroot as she continued to rant and rave at me. Eventually I got a moment to speak. I informed her that yes I had done the small__673915993clothes list and signed it, but that Nurse X had taken over and had put the clothes away for me. Not one word did this ward sister listen to. She insisted it was my responsibility and went off again on another rant, spitting and shouting at me. Eventually she ran out of steam, finishing off by insisting I write a letter of apology. She then roared at me to “Get out of her sight”, and I gladly obliged.

I well recall arriving home that evening. My father, who was very sick with motor neurone disease and unable to move or speak, was unfortunately my captive audience. I was beyond mad. I recalled the whole incident word for word to my Dad, who had no choice but to listen. Eventually we hugged and as I lay my head on his chest I felt the tears of injustice, embarrassment, hate and anger fall. When I did sit up again my Dad did his best to speak with me. He told me to remember “Never put myself in the wrong”, and to try once more to speak with the ward sister when she was calm.

The following day I tried to talk to her, but she wouldn’t entertain me, not even for a moment. She treated me as if I was dirt on her shoe, and just repeated the words “Get out of my sight and stay there”. I walked away angry. Very very angry.

To cut a long story short I refused to write the letter, and I was reported to the office. I was reprimanded by the Matron and she insisted I write the letter. So in the end that is what I did. I wrote a letter of apology to a lovely gentleman for something I did not do. And as I write this today I am still furious about it, and no I did not forgive that ward sister and I never will, nor do I forgive that toe rag of a nurse!

Yet there is a man, now living in the United States, who I am also angry at. His crimes are far greater, yet the anger I feel for him is just as intense as the anger I feel towards those two nurses. He stole my childhood and the childhood of many many others. I’m sure it is wrong to feel equal anger towards them but for me anger is anger, and that is what I feel

So it would appear in answer to the daily prompt that despite my initial thought, which told me that I am a most forgiving person, I discover in fact that I am not a person who can forgive and forget. To be honest it is not something which I find too upsetting to know, but what fascinates me most having written this, is that the anger I feel as an emotion, is exactly the same towards both people. I can completely understand the wrongs were very different, but looking back they both still make my blood boil!

I have moved on. I do not dwell on the past nor am I full of hate.

But no I will not forgive them and I cannot forget.

photo credit: rafa tenório via photopin cc
photo credit: Furryscaly via photopin cc

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31 thoughts on “Do we ever really forgive and forget?

    1. Many things in life I accept but just a few I can’t. However I rarely dwell on it. I think there are some wrongs which should not be forgiven, but I can move on.
      I’m not sure the Irish hold a grudge any more than others, but maybe we do.

  1. Interesting thought to contemplate. What you wrote about speaks to how I feel. I love your description – that toe rag of a nurse. Made me chuckle. I believe I’ve encountered people like that.

    1. Yes I think most of us have. She was eventually asked to leave thank goodness. Who knows what she’s doing now.
      I love the way sometimes we write and discover something we never knew about ourselves.

  2. For me forgiveness is a bit of a cop out, a get out of jail card, it lets the person who did something wrong think ‘well everything is okay now’. There is no sense of responsibility or facing the consequences of your actions.

    It is a bit like religious people who do nice things because they fear they will be punished for it, but surely this means that someone with no religious belief who does good things is far better because they do it without needing the threat of hell if they don’t. Forgiveness is like that too, you can spend your life doing what you like to who you like and it’s all good because you will be forgiven.

    1. I agree. If anyone thinks I should forgive that ba*tard in the US I strongly disagree.
      When I was writing this it took forever to get a photo as all the photos told me to “forgive and be free”. I suspect all were put online by people with feck all to forgive.
      Yet they post a lot of photos of ww2 saying “lest we forget” and of 9/11.
      I actually hadn’t realised how much I’d held onto until I wrote this, but I can honestly say my life is good and I have very little time to look back or have regrets.

  3. I used to work
    at a jewish elementary school
    ~
    various perspectives
    on forgiveness was
    a major theme
    ~
    sometimes involves “why” …
    accepting others’ ignorance
    and severe limitations
    ~
    you’re not condoning
    their actions
    more like understanding
    their shortcomings
    and finding ways
    of letting go
    ~
    (easier said than done)

    1. This I would find easier to do than to forgive and is perhaps a better exercise than to ask someone to forgive.
      Very interesting. Thanks so much for giving it thought.

  4. i understand this tric. i know you to be a fair and kind and forgiving person, though there are some things that are unforgivable. and they just are and you go on with your life and live it fully. and their karma will come.

    1. Thanks Beth. I appreciate your kind comment. I know that fella in the US is having a very difficult life which is his Karma I’m sure.
      Thankfully I have managed to put this anger away but forgiveness… no chance.

  5. Better out than in ok Tric, the last two lines sum it up for me, I have a real problem when someone speaks the words Christian brothers – there was nothing Christian about them and they were brothers to no one in my opinion.

      1. And it’s a very long list Tric bad enough being a day pupil it still bothers me what boarders had to put up with. but enough of that the blood is beginning to boil.

  6. The clincher for me in this post are your father’s wise words and his obvious empathy.
    I’ve met a few ‘bad yolks’, as my own late father would have described them, and really I think you should be given a sainthood if you could forgive and forget every single one of the wrongs. I reckon there’s bound to be a couple in most people’s lives that just stick in their ‘craws’ and I suspect that most are about perceived ‘injustice,’ like your one with the nurse. The thing is, though, that to be human is to be imperfect and I’m sure I’ve inflicted the unforgivable along the way too but sin sceal eile.

    1. You are right it is unrealistic to believe we could live a life where we forgive all. Thanks, and equally I too am sure I’m on at least one persons unforgiven list.

  7. im with ksbeth on this whatever about the nurse id get over her she had a chip on her shoulder you were probably a better nurse 😉 but i dont think you should forgive someone who has done a gross wrong he dosnt deserve any forgiveness from anybody and deserves to pay for his acts ,forgiveness is a big thing and depends on the sin !

  8. I have a motto – you may sh1t on my once but you will never do it again’ I don’t hold a grudge but I guess I don’t forget as I never entertain their company again.
    I wouldn’t forgive these two either xxx

    1. Thanks Lorna. I am not someone who takes offence too easily but I smile today remembering how cranky I got writing this yesterday.
      Definitely more unforgiving than I thought.

    2. Thanks Lorna. I am not someone who takes offence too easily but I smile today remembering how cranky I got writing this yesterday.
      Definitely more unforgiving than I thought.

  9. I would say forgive people but don’t forget what they did!Take it as a warning or a caution sign, in a way that nobody else would be able to repeat that thing to you again! Situations like these teaches you alot. Thanks for Sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks so much. I think in order to forgive we have to want to forgive, and I just don’t think I should. However equally I’ll never forget so it can’t happen to my children. However it doesn’t preoccupy my thoughts too much.

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