When Forgetting isn’t an Option
When someone commits an offense against you the typical thing to do is to forgive the person and forget about what was done. Sounds simple, right? So how come some of us just can’t seem to do that? What factors come into play in this phenomenon? The intensity/impact of the situation? The reputation/s of the person/s involved? Our own personal biases?
Take a look at me. There are some issues in my life that I just can’t seem to forget despite forgiving those who have sinned against me. Let me tell you about two incidents which I think has been long forgotten by most of the parties involved.
Family Reunion, 2003
The first incident I’m gonna talk about happened during our family reunion back in 2003. It was the time when I was in conflict with four of my cousins. Initially the issue was just between me and two of my cousins. However, in a cruel twist of fate, the other two were also involved. The sad thing about this was that I considered one of them as one of my best friends in the whole family.
What exactly led to this conflict is something I have already forgotten. However, all the other bad memories are still in my mind. The rejected apology and the inconsistent treatment from them are those I can still vividly recall.
Me and two of my cousins were alone in a kiddie pool. We were swimming in absolute silence and neither of us was willing to break the ice. Eventually it was me who decided to do it. I approached them from a far corner and tried to get them to talk to me. I started to apologize for whatever the issue was but they only rejected my apology. They said they had no plans on accepting my apology because they felt it was too late for an apology. I tried a few more times but it became apparent that I was talking to air.
Later I found out that two of our other cousins already knew about the issue. At first I honestly thought everything was okay between me and them. Unfortunately I was wrong. The two, like I said, treated me inconsistently. One would talk to me when it was the other who was acting cold towards me. When the other decided to talk to me, it was the person who initially treated me well who became cold. I have a feeling that the cousins i was originally in conflict with brainwashed them into treating me that way but I never really got to confirm that.
I was so relieved when our family reunion finally ended. Finally I was able to have that peace of mind.
Was this issue resolved? I’d like to think so. We never really talked about that issue after the reunion. I guess you could say time healed our wounds. I don’t know exactly how long but I just found myself talking to them. The memory I can remember after that is the next family reunion which was in 2006. Me and one of the cousins involved were talking to each other like best friends. Hell, we were even seatmates at the bus headed to San Francisco (we took a bus from Los Angeles). She would eventually confide in me about her personal issues from 2010-2011.
As for her sister, well, we never really talked that much for a long time. We treated each other in a civil manner but the relationship was not the type I had with her. It was only at around the year 2011 that we would start to open up to each other. Until now, I can say that our friendship is steadier than ever.
The cousins I originally had conflict with were cousins I vowed to stay away from. I never talked to them at all and this never really posed as a problem to me since they usually didn’t come to our gatherings. Then 2013 came and I found myself talking to one of them. It turned out that we can actually relate to a lot of things. Sadly this was short-lived. It’s not that we were back to being in conflict, okay? Our shy sides just seemed to take over which prevented us from interacting. Aside from this my cousin was already diagnosed with clinical depression which posed as a difficulty not just to me, but to all of the family, in terms of dealing with her. It was all just a matter of determining whether she wasn’t having episodes. If she wasn’t then that would be the only time that I could communicate with her without constraints. But as I said before, she rarely attended our gatherings so we never really had a chance to develop a potential friendship.
Now on to the second incident.
Post-baptism lunch, 2003.
One of my youngest cousins was baptized and our families went to some restaurant to have lunch. At first everything was fine. The adults were talking about issues which we could not relate to while us kids were playing with each other in an attempt to kill boredom. Again I forgot the exact cause of the conflict. Again it’s the bad memory that I can remember. I remember being in a corner while my cousins, who were around my age, bullied me. They were rubbing it in my face that I was all alone because all of them had each others’ backs while I was the odd man out. Back then I could do nothing but absorb all the painful words they let go of.
Fast forward to the present time…
When I think about those two incidents it makes me wonder how these issues never got the attention of the adults or my older cousins. Is it because the issue was so petty, if taken from the perspective of an adult? Or is it because they were simply ignorant? There’s no way to ascertain, honestly.
Whenever I talk about these to my mom she’s quick to say that I should forget about those already.
“You were kids at that time so you had no idea what you were doing”, she said.
I will agree that we were kids but I will never agree that we were not aware of what we were doing. At a young age of 7-9, we already had our own way of thinking. We already knew how to read, to write, to speak, to feel, to understand… Try looking at a child, who is crying, and a parent. If the parent decides to ask the child what he/she is doing and why he/she is crying, he/she is most likely to say what is going on/to point out what he/she thinks is making him/her behave that way.
The same can be said in the case of my cousins. They knew exactly what they were doing when they decided to do that act against me and they knew if it was right or wrong.
Okay, one can argue that we can’t expect a child to know what counts as moral and immoral. It does make sense, after all, if you take into account the fact that the child’s way of thinking is not yet on that level. But surely the parents of that child must have taught him/her what is good/bad, right? The teachings don’t have to be complex such as “killing is bad” or “spreading false rumors is wrong”. A child, as young as 7-9, can already be taught that to steal, to answer back to parents and to fight with other people are all wrong deeds.
Lastly the fact that I remember what happened and how I came to experience negative emotions should prove that we already knew what was happening and the implications it had. If I already knew what was happening back then then they should have also known what was happening because we were all in the same age group. Unless there is a delay in their learning I don’t think it’s an excuse if one were to simply say that they probably did not know what they were doing.
So no one should take it against me when I say that I have not forgotten those issues. No, I will never forget. Those were part of my childhood experiences, you know. And you know what they say about childhood experiences: it shapes your personality. In my case, those experiences influenced me to develop a pessimistic view of the world. It’s like you just can’t seem to put down your guard, even if you are with people who are seemingly close to you. It’s like there’s a voice at the back of your head and it’s telling you that all the people you meet are flawed. It’s like you’re anticipating the time that people will go against you.
These views greatly affected my relationship with everyone involved, even if it was a long time ago. Like I said, I treated my cousins in a civil manner. I think a complete stranger can even think that I am good friends with them. But no. Despite the good treatment, I maintained a certain distance from my cousins. During social gatherings I always sat away from them. I never joined in any of their activities and I never made attempts to make small talk. Now how have I managed to do that for twelve years? It’s actually pretty simple. I simply let some of my thoughts become dominant in my life.
These are the same people who hurt you twelve years ago. You let your guard down once and what happened? Will you go for a second time and perhaps experience something worse?
With that I became distant to most of my cousins. In social gatherings I would only stick to my cousins who were pushed into the issue and their siblings. The rest I ignored and let them go on with their business. Oh yeah, I hang out with them but make no mistake about what I said earlier, if you please. Despite them being my closest bunch of cousins as of the moment I still remember. No, I will always remember. Despite the number of good memories that we already have with each other, the memory from 2003 will always linger at the back of my mind. That once upon a time, these same people were backstabbers who treated you like trash.
Some of you might think that I am overreacting. I understand and respect your opinions because you are all entitled to your own opinions. What I would ask of each of you is to respect my opinions as well because it wasn’t you who experienced those situations. You never experienced how it was like to have your cousins turn against you. You never experienced it at a young age. So let’s all be happy for each other, alright? I am doing fine with this way of life. Like I said we treat each other in a civil manner so there’s peace and harmony in the family. As long as that’s the case then this is pretty much how things will be between me and everyone involved.