Forgiveness

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I don’t know what forgiveness feels like.

I’ve forgotten. Forgiveness is an emotion I barely use. It’s that cranberry pie you save for Thanksgiving -- only Thanksgiving. By Christmas each year, I forget what it tastes like. I’m aware that I tasted it before, but the flavor’s always beyond my memory. I like imaging what the pie’s like in the months in-between, and that’s almost as fun as actually eating it. But the real thing is always so much better, even when I half-expect it not to be.

I like pretending, too; pretending that everything’s fine between us, that there’s nothing for me to forgive. That’s what I say, at least, when you ask me, “Why can’t you just forgive me already?”

“There’s nothing for me to forgive.”

It sounds better than I don’t know how to forgive people anymore. Shit, you must think I’m a horrible person.

I hope you don’t. I have plenty of memories, most of them half-faded, some of them moldy. I remember I wanted to be exactly like you once. I looked up to you, and that little girl is somewhere in me. She’d be crushed if you thought badly of her.

A more recent memory involves you crying into my shirt. I was somewhat shocked and the awareness left in me was screaming that our positions should be reversed. You were telling me that you’re sorry, you’re so damn sorry. I had my teeth clenched and knuckles were bleeding into carpet and I was trying so hard not to care because I was still so mad, so hurt.

I don’t even think you’re sorry. How can you be sorry? You don’t even know what you’ve done. You don’t.

I don’t know how you’re so unobservant. I was supposed to rely on you; spill all my secrets to you; go to you with questions; ask for your advice. We’re supposed to laugh and you’re supposed to teach me about make-up and I’m supposed to cry when I get my heart broken for the first time and you’re supposed to tell me it’ll be alright, that I don’t need boys anyway. You’ve destroyed all of those supposed-to’s without even realizing it. If anyone needs lessons in ignorance, they should come to you.

You should teach lessons in lying and deceiving, too. Why can’t you admit it? You lied to me; you lied without caring; you lied thinking it was for the best and didn’t once realize how much it hurt. You lied. If I say it enough times, maybe you’ll finally realize how hurt I am. But you can’t see that I’m hurt; you’re preoccupied with the holes in the wall and the papers you need to file and those emails you really should read. Not me. Never me.

Everything comes before me. I’ve lost count of the times you’re too busy to talk to me because you’ve got work. Why does everything come before me? Non-breathing work before a human, before a human you’re supposed to love. I’m jealous of that work, really.

I’m hurt. Do you realize it yet?

Maybe you don’t realize it because I hurt you. I see the pain in the way you look at me when I tell him “I love you” back and not you. But how can I tell you I love you? Saying it makes me open, makes me vulnerable. I don’t trust you enough to be open with you. I just don’t trust you.

Or maybe I’m making excuses for you. Maybe I want to believe there’s good in you, still, past all the lies and the ignorance and the arguments. Maybe you do realize it; maybe you just don’t care. Maybe you don’t notice it because you’re not around enough. I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things.

You’ve stopped saying you love me, anyway, so it’s not like it matters.

I didn’t even notice. I don’t think I could argue if you called me a horrible person and stomped out that girl like she was a fire that would destroy you. I can’t argue with you anymore.

I remember all of our arguments. The half-shouted words got soaked into the walls, but I don’t care to remember them. Looking back: your words bite and claw and sting at my eyes. Mine just make me embarrassed. I’m not sure whose words I prefer.

The silent arguments are the most memorable.

There was one where we were in the car and I was staring out the window at cracks in the pavement, counting them like the spiders in the room and I was trying so hard not to scream. I was biting my tongue, and I could taste blood. I was aware that I should stop, but I didn’t. It set in then; that I had forgiven you somewhere along the way. I don’t know when.

I think it might have been when you dug your nails in my face and drew blood on your fingernails. Maybe it was when you told me to be a doctor because I’d be better at it but I shouldn’t go with writing or maybe it was when you slammed the door in my face and told me to shut up, just shut up already, or maybe it was when you were crying and you told me you were sorry and I realized that you were, you really were. But it doesn’t matter when because I forgave you all the same.

I forgive you.





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