To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
~ Lewis B. Smedes
A business con man I knew about seven years’ ago may have died. I haven’t enquired into the truth of it because I’m finding it hard to care. And no amount of mindfulness and deep breathing is helping me care.
But I did care once.
Once when our relationship seemed open, honest and equal, but ended in a betrayal which, even now, takes my breath away.
Over the years, I have prodded at my still depth of feeling about what happened, the way one picks at a scab until it bleeds. But I got weak from bleeding and so had to let the thing go, because at times I felt my head would explode with the not understanding why.
My version of letting go was electing not to think about the betrayal. Forget everything, even when I had occasion to pass David’s* offices on my way to anywhere. I shut that part of me down and closed its factory doors.
On occasion, I would look up the nature of forgiveness. One early takeaway was that hating anyone is like drinking poison and expecting them to drop dead. I got that and told myself because I had moved on I had forgiven.
My reaction to David’s probable death this week has shone a light on that lie.
Even knowing forgiveness is an act of love and grace, and not necessarily because someone deserves to be forgiven, I still falter at this altar of forgiveness.
This is my muse this week as, ironically, I’m finding it hard to forgive myself for not forgiving David when I have been able to forgive others in the past.
Maybe forgetting was never going to be enough until I acknowledged the part I played in the situation. The need for someone charismatic, older and seemingly wiser to be impressed with me. The way Bronnie was impressed with me and my independence of thought.
The relationship with David was not romantic. We were not those people to each other, but we did have a rapport. Of course, the nature of con men is their ability to spot the need upon which to hook and exploit.
But thinking the thing through, as I tend to do naturally when I write without editing myself, maybe it’s Bronnie I have to forgive for abandoning me and leaving this need behind?
Maybe this has been the real struggle all along.
That by choosing to forget I wouldn’t have to think about the person I truly had to forgive.
And I do forgive Bronson.
That known, forgiveness should now include David, but this remains a work in progress – and for which I’ve decided to forgive myself, for now.