Our deal breakers have become like a vast ocean in which we end up drowning ourselves, trying to stay afloat from something we’re convinced is going under at the first sign of distress.
“He did what??!! Oh girl leave his a**!” can be heard in any given living room on a Saturday night while two good friends are filling their glasses to the brim and comforting each other.
When did forgiveness become the other bad “F” word?
THE HEN’S DEN
The reputation of forgiveness has been battered from the time women decided they were fed up being passive, docile and submissive to male counterparts who historically didn’t appreciate or reciprocate it. From being financially unstable to full-blown adultery; forgiveness is the last option your friends will advise you of. And to be honest it’s usually the last blimp on your radar in your own mind. For us INDEPENDENT LADIES (and even Man’s Man) forgiveness = settling and that’s a big NO NO.
Whether it’s relationships, friendships or partnerships we are out before the first “I’m Sorry” settles in the wake of our dust track.
Now, I’m not talking about forgiving someone because you are convinced that there isn’t better out there but true forgiveness when you know you deserve better but will allow the one who hurt to fix it and be better.
In the beginning there was love…
And then the lie that real love is somehow perfect. Reinforce this logic with television and young adult novels and this is what happens…
I don’t know the exact moment when I became a hopeless romantic; I do know that around age 11 I thought of love as a combination of Disney movies, Nicholas Sparks plots, and enough passion to melt all the candles in any given Catholic Church.
So, it was no surprise that I fell head over heels, love at almost first sight when I was only 15. I stayed that way for another 7 years until I had to make a decision that many young women are faced with.
Do I stay or do I leave?
One of the hardest and most exhilarating things I had done up until that point in my life. I had made a choice to draw a line in the dirt so to speak and decided that after seeing other women in my life mistreated by men who always expected to be forgiven; I would be different. That I would be stronger.
Stronger I said to myself.
Who Hurt You Girl?
For the next few years I told myself that it was a deal breaker to ever take a man back after he cheats just because you love him. To ever settle with someone who wasn’t financially or emotionally my equal was out of the question. I was a militant force in the idea that once a cheater always a cheater; once trust is broken it cannot be rebuilt.
“I gave the last one three chances so that means you get zero because he used it all up.”
Walking away was not the same as forgiving and so I carried that grudge, pain, insecurity and mistrust around with me like a sloppy drunk friend needing a hand up eight flights of stairs.
Then something changed. I matured. And looked at my own life and the world around me with new eyes.
I saw women I revered forgive “ain’t shit men” for the unthinkable not because they didn’t know who they were without their men but because they had a true understanding of themselves. They knew they could forgive.
And what is forgiveness but the highest expression of love?
In truth, as hard as walking away was, it was still easier than staying and dealing with the broken trust, plethora of lies and embarrassment. I was battling a stigma that staying meant compliance, that forgiveness meant weakness.
But the more I discover the truth behind every fairy tale we tell ourselves about love; the more I realize that in essence every choice comes from a place of love. Whether it’s love for yourself or the other person.
Then why is it that we look down on others for forgiving the one they love after an affair? Or after he quits his high paying job to pursue a risky investment?
We can be downright ruthless in this day and age when we discover that a woman has stayed after being stepped out on. Sometimes I get it. Hell I use to be in the streets with my white picket sign right alongside the crowd chanting “Girl Quit! He ain’t Shit! Girl Quit! He Ain’t Shit!”
Especially when we have women who think like this…
Yet, this is quick judgement on our part. Do we ever stop to think about what has happened to develop such a mind-set? Or if the couple has been married for years why do we assume that the woman doesn’t love herself enough just because she’s stayed for her love of him? Goodness forbid a man forgive a woman; we then question how he’s able to stand up without a backbone.
Forgiveness is actually for you too Sis
We joke our way through the pain we still feel with memes like…
I had a very real wake up call when my ex passed away. My sisters had married into his family so no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t escape him completely. And he was just fine with that, forcing me to be his friend throughout the years with semi-annual updates and contact. But he left this earth and I don’t ever think I let him know that he was forgiven because he wasn’t, not really.
So everything I thought I packed away with the walking papers I’d given him years earlier came rushing to the surface. The love, the anger but eventually the forgiveness that took a lost of life to process. My grief was made that much more complicated. We hear the line, forgiveness is not just for the other person but also for you, all the time. We just don’t take it seriously.
Trust me, forgiveness is hard enough without having to process suppressed anger and grief along with it.
And what is forgiveness but the highest expression of love?
“Forgive but don’t Forget”
Forgiveness is more like a process than a one-hitter-quitter. Simply because you don’t forget. Unless you bump your head and those memories go bye-bye then what that person did is forever stuck up there replaying itself at the most inconvenient times.
Today, I forgave my dad about various things from my childhood and it was easy. Tomorrow it could be harder. I look at it as a day by day process. That way you can still honor your own complicated emotions without an expectation that they’re supposed to disappear with “I forgive you.”
Hurt is similar to a stone being thrown into a calm river. You don’t know where those ripples will lead. He quit his job. Now you’re behind on the mortgage and just found out your third child is on the way.
It can be scary to forgive because you’re essentially allowing something that hurt/disappointed you back into your space. I understand. I’m there with you. My space is sacred AF and anything that challenges that balance is likely to be discarded. Just remember that even when walking away, at some point you still need to forgive. Otherwise it will follow you through every friendship, relationship, or partnership in the form of mistrust, suspicion, and invulnerability.
With individuals, especially strong women, it seems that being vulnerable is hard enough but having that vulnerability tested in any way from our partner through infidelity, financial instability, or miscommunication; it’s almost always a deal breaker. We celebrate being bold enough to walk away from “his trifling ass” and condemn those who stay just for love. But an interesting twist seems to be that what makes us strong actually makes us weak.
Our own narrative about being individuals who won’t settle for less often throws out the good along with the bad for the sake of not seeming weak; in our minds and the minds of others. Personally, as of right now, I still have my laundry list of deal breakers but I see the power it has taken to forgive and cultivate a new love out of the bad actions or choices of a loved one. I’m still learning how to do this thing called forgiveness but maybe I should start by being less judgmental of the ones who are already good at it.
I am not an advocate for being a doormat; forgiving the perpetual inconsiderate person or serial cheater but there is some space for consideration to be had. The newfound emotional protective walls that my generation has built leaves little room for moving forward. Forgiving, in itself, can be liberating (or so I’ve heard) Why not try it out?
Do you feel forgiveness is not as celebrated as it should be? Or do women still overdo it? What about men? LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! Comment below.