This is For Me (Not for You)
Yesterday, someone told me forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the forgiven. And that very evening I saw you again for the first time in six months. For a moment, when I first recognized you, I had the inexplicable urge to turn and run. My legs stumbled and my muscles tensed, ready to take off, with or without my full consent. And then my logic kicked in. You never physically harmed me. In fact, you were my friend, my confidant… and then you weren’t. You cried on my shoulder one day and then called me a heartless bitch the next. And that was it. We ignored one another as if invisible to each other. Soon, you all and all disappeared from my life. Only to return one year later.
I hadn’t realized how much our parting, how much you words have affected me. Until that morning… that morning I saw you sitting in the second row of our class. That class we shared. And I didn’t understand what was happening. My breaths were short, my heart was racing, my feet were frozen to the floor, and you were just sitting there unaware of the turmoil your mere presence was wreaking on my body, my mind. But I managed to sit, to squeeze my way right past your seat. All I could do was robotically pull my belongings from my bag and prepare for class. All I could do was pray that my friend would show up soon and break the ice crystallizing in my lungs and freezing me to my seat. And eventually she showed up and did just that. And suddenly I could breath just a bit better.
Later I would identify this experience as a panic attack. Which would, when not in the throws of one, make me question myself. Why was just seeing you, just being in the same room as you, causing these seemingly extreme reactions? Our separation wasn’t traumatic, I’d say. You cant, didn’t, hurt me, I’d say. It must be me, I’d say. And you can imagine how this self doubt began to unravel my sanity, slowly but surely. So I began to take anti anxiety medication, so that I could survive your presence. And I did, eventually able to give up my meds and still function in your presence, but still with difficulty. After all I needed that class, I needed that credit (that is of course ignoring the solution of switching classes). Then the semester was over and I hoped I’d never run into you again (however unlikely that wish may have been).
And I didn’t. For six months. Until yesterday. When I saw you through those beautiful glass doors, jauntily mingling. When my feet threatened to carry me off to a “safe place.” When I forced myself to ignore my instincts and squeezed myself into a crowed elevator with you. When I sat in the same room with you again for 90 minutes. When my mind settled on the earlier words of forgiveness that were spoken to me before I realized they were about you. When I thought that they were in reference to another. But they were for you.
Now I don’t tell you all of this to make you understand “what you put me through.” I only intend to get this off my chest. Your reaction is of no concern to me. This is for me. And I think I’m finally ready. Ready to say those words I thought I’d already moved past but clearly hadn’t. I don’t expect these words will magically cure me of the panic that sets in every time I see you or find myself in your presence, but I do believe that this is the beginning of my healing process. So here it goes.
I forgive you. I forgive you for those hateful words spoken out of spite and fear. And I forgive myself for believing them, for even just one moment. I forgive because to forgive is to let go and to let go is to move on and I’m ready to move on. I hope you to move on and find whatever it is you’re so desperately searching for. Thank you for the good memories we created together and thank you for reminding me what forgiveness feels like.