I turned on the TV yesterday while I was folding laundry and found an old Oprah episode.
Oprah told the audience that she was going to share one of her favorite definitions of forgiveness.
My ears perked up because forgiveness is something that I’ve struggled with for years.
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different,” Oprah said.
For some reason, the concept really resonated with me.
When W and I crawled into bed last night, I repeated the quote.
“Wow, that’s really good,” she said.
I asked her if she thought that people — real people and not characters in books or movies — could read something or hear something and totally change their lives.
“Absolutely,” she said.
W is a glass half full kind of person.
Me? When my wine glass is half full, I’m flagging the waiter for another glass.
My therapist and I were discussing the concept of letting go last week.
I had brought the topic up. Instead of picking my battles and setting boundaries, what if I just let go of everything? Poof. Released it into the air.
She chuckled a bit. I knew she was suppressing a huge guffaw, but it’s really rude for a therapist to laugh at a client.
“Ok,” she said, drawing out the one-syllable word. That’s her tell for what-kind-of-crazy-shit-are-you-going-to-tell-me-now? But again, it’s really rude to call a client crazy during a session.
“What would that look like?” she asked. I saw her ears perk up, curious as hell about my plan for letting go of my anal retentively tied baggage.
For the record, I hold onto everything like a three-year-old in a thunderstorm clutching a beloved teddy bear.
“I don’t know,” I said. “It was just a thought. I have no idea what that might look like.”
So, that’s where we ended things.
Me: I should figure out a way to let go of stuff.
Therapist: Good luck with that.
Again, that type of blase attitude that is typically frowned upon in the therapy setting.
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different.”
What would me letting go look like? It would look like me giving up the hope that my past could have been different.
I spend so much time thinking about how things could have been if I would have gone to a city college with a more diverse student body, if a gay couple would have lived on the street that I lived on as a kid, if I would have grown up in The L Word age, if my mother would have let me take those damn drum lessons in fourth grade. …
The interesting thing is that the more time I spend attempting to revise my past, the angrier I get. And, nothing ever changes. Wishing it so doesn’t make it so.
My therapist says that I’m unable to forgive despite my many sincere attempts because I’m still angry.
Maybe the key is that I need to let go of the past.
Maybe writing about it will help.