This idea has come up quite a lot for me in recent weeks.
What’s the difference between making peace with someone (or a situation), and forgiving someone?
One answer that I got is that there is no difference. When you forgive someone you find peace, and true peace (with a person or situation) can only come from forgiving them. And forgiveness is essential, these people say, because it is necessary in order to move forward with your life. After all, wouldn’t you want someone to forgive you for things you might have done as well?
Someone else has said that it’s possible to make peace with someone without asking for forgiveness, or giving it. Granting someone absolution for a terrible deed they have committed is in effect conveying the idea that what they did was acceptable, and they are now absolved of all responsibility for what they have done. Instead, make peace by “letting go” of that person or situation in the best way possible for you, and move on. Forgiveness is not mandatory.
So what are some things that are unforgivable?
Hey man, penguins can be some scary motherfuckers.
My “list” is by no means comprehensive, but I would say that there are many people who feel that these things, these acts, are utterly reprehensible and therefore unforgivable. The wounds our parents, caregivers, and other loved ones inflict upon us are the most difficult to heal. As a result, victims/survivors of these kinds of acts often suffer from PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, carrying around the memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and general inability to cope with everyday stressors for months if not years. Therapy can help, but nothing is guaranteed. “Make peace,” says one camp; “forgive them for what they’ve done to you,” says another.
In my mind, there are some things that are absolutely unforgivable. But making peace… now, that’s a different story, and one that I’m willing to explore the writing of. It doesn’t mean that I have to repair a relationship with someone that has hurt me, or grant them absolution or amnesty; it simply means that I choose to let go of the pain that person caused me in whatever way works best for me. That could be writing them a letter – and sending it, or not (but not keeping it as a reminder – burning such negative thoughts and feelings can be very therapeutic). It could be writing my feelings down on a helium balloon and releasing it to the heavens. It could be making the conscious decision to not just live my life, but to live it well – a sort of slap in the face if you will.
No matter the means, it ultimately entails reclaiming the power that person or that situation took from me (or you). It means standing on my own feet and recognizing my own self-worth, knowing that my concept of self simply cannot be derived from those who have proven themselves to be less than me. Their power came from hurting; mine comes from healing. It comes from moving on. It comes from living.
So shall I live.