I can forgive a lot.
I forgive the actions of my addict friends. I forgive the people who spread rumours. I forgive the people who run away when I need them most. I forgive the people who waste my time. I forgive the people who think my job is not a real job and then proceed to tell me to get a real one. I forgive the woman who beat me. I forgive the man who shouts at me instead of himself. I forgive the people who don’t understand, who are unaware, who think mental illness is a lie created to gain sympathy.
I do not forgive because I am weak. I do not forgive because I am a push over. I forgive because I am strong. Strong enough to handle it. Accept it. Understand it. Even be grateful for it. I am grateful every single day that I have been gifted the ability to forgive when a lot of people are not.
When I forgive, I choose to turn the other cheek. To offer a second chance.
Someone once asked me, knowing everything that was going on behind my back, how long I was going to keep turning the other cheek for. More out of annoyance than anything else, I answered, “until I’m dead.” But now I think about it, I find that to be true. I will always forgive. I will always believe in giving second chances. But when both cheeks get hit, it’s time to turn one final time and walk away. I let go. No third or fourth chances. Not with me. I’ll leave. Maybe not physically – there are always things you cannot entirely leave behind – but definitely emotionally and mentally.
Eventually, it won’t matter anymore. Given enough time, everything ceases to matter other than the truest, most loving, most authentic things.
It’s a lesson I’ve learned through much difficulty these past few years. In fact, it’s a lesson I’m still learning. The worst times are when it comes with a crashing wave of guilt. The guilt usually comes when I know the other side of the story – all stories have at least two sides, after all. When I understand the person I’m leaving behind. But what I’ve learned is that there is no point wasting time, energy and parts of myself trying to give people something they don’t want, even when they don’t actually know they don’t want it. Walking away isn’t a cruel move. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It doesn’t mean that they won’t ever find what they’re looking for. It just means that our paths are done crossing and it’s time to move on. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay. If I stick around, I may very well be hindering their ability to move on to better things, too.
I see Banksy’s painting of the little girl letting the heart-shaped balloon go, and imagine myself putting all those toxic relationships, all those people who continuously make mistakes, who will never learn despite all you try to do to help them, all that hurt, into a heart-shaped balloon.
But no matter how deeply I long to watch it get swept into the air and disappear over the horizon, the balloon never moves. The wind never carries it off. It’s weighted by everything that’s inside. It stays in front of me. Bobbing up and down, staring me in the face. It stays in front of me because it is not the Universe’s job to take these things away from me. It’s mine choice to leave them behind. It’s my responsibility. When this idea finally clicked, I realised I can leave the balloon wherever I want; and I choose the top of a mountain in my mind with a spectacular view.