Forgiveness vs forgetting: I forgive you, but I won’t forget what you did

We all have heard the saying: it’s better to forgive and forget than to revenge and remember. Honestly, I would like to tell whomever decided to publish that saying a little piece of my mind. I don’t believe that it is better to seek revenge on someone who has hurt you, I believe that killing your frenemies with kindness is the best fighting option you have. It is the remembering part that I have issues with. Unlike Dumbledore, us muggles here on earth do not have the magical ability to swiftly remove the memories or thoughts we wish to abandon, to be rid of them forever and always. Unlike Dory, most of us don’t have short term memory loss and will forget the fact that you’ve been cheated on, dumped, and taken back three times during your last relationship. You don’t forget that because of his actions, you have severe trust issues and insecurities that are now impaling your thoughts of another relationship with doubts and worries the size of the burning sun. We can’t just wipe the slate clean and forgive the guy that broke your heart so many times. Now that you have come to that realization that you were fighting a losing battle, forgiveness might come easier: but forgetting what was done to you will not. (And yes, when I say you, I secretly mean me.)

After I came to the conclusion that the longer I stayed in the relationship the more paranoid and untrusting I became, I can honestly say I became more willing to forgive and walk away from the situation than forget and stay. But what do I mean by forgiving? I don’t mean that I pardoned his actions nor embraced the fact that it was ok what had happened. I don’t mean that I finally see from his point of view, or that I am willing to place all the memories of what happened in a box and ship it up to Timbuctoo. I mean, yeah, I sort of get why those things happened, that a part of it was me, that my doubts and concerns over the first time caused a severe strain. I don’t think less of him, I don’t blame him, I don’t feel the need to tell the next girl he’s with of his mistakes because I honestly think he’s on the path to change. I simply am no longer motivated to check his Facebook, to creep on his email, to constantly question who he is with and constantly, constantly, overthink everything. I no longer care if he decides to talk to his exes or if he doesn’t. Part of it may have come with moving on, but I believe the majority of it was that I finally understood that I needed to forgive him and move on. We are better friends than we are as a couple, and despite everything between us, I still respect and care for him just as I would any other best friend of mine. That’s forgiveness.

I am sure that many of you can relate to a similar situation, a relationship turning sour, a friendship ending in an unexpected way, betrayal by someone you truly care for. There is one fact that I would like to mention: after his screws up where “done,” he moved on. He was the one moving on past the mistakes, living for the future and trying to fix things between us. I was the one holding on to the past, I was the one who was still broken and unforgiving, unwilling to forget what he had done or when he had left. I became a cage of insecurities and fears, doubting my self-worth, beauty and ability to be anything more than plan b. No matter how many times or how many people told me otherwise, I felt and feel that because of what I have gone through, I am anything but what they say I am. Actions speak louder than words right?

This is where I want to take that phrase of forgiving and forgetting and shove it down the throat of who wrote it. Forgiving him after it all was said and done came almost readily, forgetting on the other hand is a more complex story plot.

Like a scar, the fear and pain that I felt during those instances lingers, making trusting and not doubting or questioning the guy in my next relationship a scene of the crime. Sure, I will listen and feel honored by his remarks and comments, maybe even forget for a little while of what I have been through, but as soon as the margaritas at girls night kick in or the doubts awaken from their slumber, panic sets in. It’s almost like on instinct the want to retreat or run away kicks in, the little voice in my head screams to be careful. I truly feel sorry for the guy who has to deal with this, having to pick up the pieces and not only earn trust for his own sake, but to have to rebuild my broken trust and undermine the hundreds of doubts that I already have.

Is it a sign of weakness to not be able to forget? I don’t know, you tell me. Here’s some personal words of wisdom though: if it is easier to forgive if you walk away from the situation, do so. Grant yourself the peace at least from the anger and resentment for that person. If you can’t truly give them a second chance and forgive them for their sins, don’t string them along having them think you can. Sometimes starting over is better for the heart, soul and mind. I don’t know what it is going to take in order for me to forget what happened, to not never be on edge or have worries. Maybe a relationship founded on honesty and respect, maybe the actions of another proving through time that being cheated on is not ok, that I shouldn’t have to check messages or question what he is doing, that being able to truly honor another’s word is the right thing to do.

I forgave another for the mistakes he made, maybe the next step in order to forget the doubts and worries is to forgive myself.


(Kayla Handy is a Clarion University student contributor to & Email Kayla at