I once had a boyfriend who told me all about his secret pain. The entire recitation lasted one whole rainy afternoon and it was very touching. At the end of it, he thanked me for hearing him out and told me he was there for me if ever I wished to tell him my problems.“That’s sweet,” I said, patting his hand.
He waited a beat. “So…?”
“You going to tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“Your problems!” he said. “You can tell me.”
“I don’t have any problems,” I said.
“Not now maybe, but you must have had some problems some time.”
“Uh…” I thought hard. I’d once gotten into trouble for setting fire to a bale of hay but I didn’t think that was the kind of “problem” he was looking for. Something… soul-shattering. That was what was needed. “Um, I was very ill when I was eight,” I offered when the silence became awkward.
“No, no, not illness. Stuff like what I just told you. Those kinds of problems.”
“Oh. No, I don’t have any problems of that kind.”
“Well, if you don’t want to tell me,” he huffed.
“Arre, I’d tell you if I had any. Which I don’t. Sorry.”
He wouldn’t believe me and threatened to go into a prolonged sulk. I cudgeled my brain some more but I seriously could not think of one, honest-to-God tale of deep woe. Finally, I resorted to making stuff up. I don’t exactly remember the particulars of it (a pack of lies spun years ago? Get real!) but I do recall that I got quite involved in it. I ended up sobbing pathetically and he got to play comforting angel to my poor self.
I tell you, the acting profession doesn’t know what it missed when I decided not to take it up.
It’s years later and obviously, life hasn’t been all roses, whatever it might have been like at eighteen. But even with all the unexpected challenges its thrown up from time to time, I’ve had it pretty good.
Nine times out of ten, when things have gone wrong, I was directly at fault. The tenth was completely out of my control so that’s spilt milk. I’ve tried hard to learn from the other nine, so I can’t say I’ve got any complaints.
The only thing I still find hard to do is forget any injuries done to me. Forgiveness is not a problem – it generally takes me a while to forgive but eventually I can see the other person’s point of view and understand it even if I can’t go so far as to sympathize. That’s all very well. But forgetting the incident… I haven’t yet managed to forget a single thing that’s hurt me.
I don’t know if that qualifies as a real problem or not but there it is.
How does one forget? I was watching Lamhe again the other day and there’s a line in that movie: “Memories are memories, you can’t just toss them out of a window.”
Or something like that. I’m paraphrasing. But the point is, that’s so true. Even if you rid a particular memory of the emotion attached to it, whether negative or poignant (as in Viren’s case in that movie), how do you deliberately erase a memory?
At the most I can promise myself that I won’t sit down and brood over something. But one doesn’t only dredge up bits of one’s past on command – sometimes they show up unbidden, all on their own.
They can be as intrusive as unwanted guests, especially when images of things you’re absolutely ashamed of insist on playing out in technicolor in your head. Did you ever rob your brother/sister of a toy s/he really wanted? Did you ever say something mean to your mother or father? Is there a friend you wish you’d kept in touch with? A test you cheated on but now wish you hadn’t? Ganged up on a kid in the schoolyard?
So what’s to keep memories of wrongs done you from playing in your head? Is it enough that you’ve told yourself let bygones by bygones? Are those memories bound to color your future interactions with the person or persons involved in those incidents?
It’s the last question that troubles me. If I find myself in the same situation with one of the people who’ve hurt me in the past, would I expect them to act just as they have before? How fair is that if I say that I’ve forgiven them and no longer feel any rancor towards them?
I don’t think it’s fair at all. If one forgives then one has to start with a clean slate. So then the question becomes, how genuine is my forgiveness?
It’s genuine in so far as I don’t wish them any harm. I don’t hope bad things happen to them or mutter about karma (I may have already done those things though What? I’m not a saint! Forgiveness is something to be worked upon as anybody with any sort of family at all can tell you). I may not feel angry when I think of their past actions.
But I don’t know if I can start over with a clean slate. So then the question becomes, can we ever wipe the slate clean? Which to me sounds perilously close to the question, can we ever forgive?
If only I could answer all my own questions, I’d be one real smart kitty cat. One real smart headache-free kitty cat.