Forgiveness is weighty. In my memoir, I write about many painful challenges I endured as I grew up, and some of those experiences still live with me, haunting me, exerting negative power over my life. It wasn’t always that way. In fact, I thought I had forgiven the people in my life that contributed to my pain, but recent events have called that into question. I wrestle with it in my memoir, and in my mind.
It seems one of the things that sells memoirs is forgiveness. I’ve read many articles and opinions about memoirs, and why we are drawn to them. We all want happy existences for ourselves, but we love to read about the pain and challenges of others. Maybe that’s because they are more true to our own experiences, or maybe it’s because it helps us feel grateful for the lives we live – we are reminded that things aren’t as bad as they could be. But, we also love happy endings. A memoir that is open and brutally honest is more likely to draw in readers, and my story is certainly those things. With the honesty, though, I inherently put other people’s mistakes and shortcomings on display, and that is difficult for me, because my goal in writing is simply to express myself and my perspective – not to hurt others in the process.
That’s one reason I’m blogging anonymously for the moment. I have to determine how to face certain people and share my honesty and my perspective with them. It will hurt them, and while that isn’t my goal, I don’t know how to avoid it and still be honest. In some ways, I still lean towards taking the coward’s way out. Until I move further along in the process, and determine whether my memoir is publishable or not, I hesitate to address the issues. If I never publish it, I never have to face these things head on. Sometimes I convince myself that if I were able to achieve real forgiveness, it’d be easier to put my writing in front of the people it will hurt – if I’ve forgiven them, maybe it’ll hurt just a little bit less. The plain truth is that I’m just not there yet, though, and it poses a huge dilemma for me.
I don’t believe forgiveness is a simple choice. I think it needs to come from wisdom, from generosity, from acceptance, from coming to terms with pain, from graciousness, and those are not things that simply come when I call them. When I look at the people I have forgiven and try to understand what makes it possible for me to forgive one person and not another, it just gets more complicated. I can’t pinpoint when forgiveness came – I just know that it did. I can’t identify what steps I may have taken to help bring it about – I just know that I no longer harbor hard feelings in some cases, while I still do in others. For now, I bide my time, thoughts about pain and forgiveness ruminating in my mind, mostly just staying in place – heavy, unwieldy, immovable.