The Challenge of Forgetting

For unknown reasons, I decided that learning to forgive would be something that I wanted to do and now was the time to do it.

I look back at my life and this was certainly not the #1 skill that I had, or so I thought.

Ponder, meditate or question anything long enough and answers will begin to flow like a river. And such was the case here.

Ever notice when you take the time to really do some deep internal work, the phrase, “I never expected that . . . .” becomes commonplace.

Much to my surprise, forgiveness was relatively easy. Decide. Period. I now forgive this person, this situation, this whatever.

It is surprisingly easy.

Not only that, there were dramatically fewer instances where I truly needed to forgive someone. In fact, I was shocked at the small number here. Of course, on the flip side, whereby I was the “offender,” those numbers were much larger.

Overall, it was a freeing, healing experience.


Until one word came to the forefront. And that word was “forgetting.” I could not forget certain situations and when I did recall them, terrible feelings would come to the surface. Quickly. Feelings of betrayal, disappointment, frustration, hurt etc., haunted me. “How could they do that?” “What were they thinking?” “Do I mean so little. . . .?”

A wave of disappointment and abject failure crashed over me. I had not gotten closer to forgiveness simply because I could not forget. I believe in a mirage called forgiveness when the shadow called forgetting, dominated the picture.

When I would see or hear a “trigger,” I recalled the situation and a flood of emotions would overtake me. They were not the positive kind either. Not by any means.

How can you forget? Or at least not remember and dwell?

Perhaps there was some method or technique.

None was found.

Maybe a prayer or a mantra.

Again, nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Am I bound to be tortured by my own thoughts, memories of pain and being let down by some of the people closest to me?

Truth be told, I was quite discouraged. In my moment of darkness, a light entered and an idea snuck through:  Don’t try to forget. Just let it come up and do. . . .nothing.

See the more I tried to forget, the more the situation became powerful to the point it overpowered all – my will, my thoughts,  my mind and my spirit.

In order to release the pain and regain my power, I stopped fighting. I simply surrendered to the pain. It wanted to fight and I simply sat down and refused.

It has not been easy but after struggling for years, I finally have made actual progress. Small progress but it certainly is better than the prior total of zero.

The pain is less at times. The times are fewer.

It is by no means a 100%, Grade A success story but for the first time in my life, I see it could be.

This statement alone has been worth all of the effort to date.

Throughout this whole ordeal, regardless of how it ends or if it ever ends, I am reminded of one strong message: Never give up hope.