Theory v. Execution

In theory, forgiveness is simple. A sin is committed, after which the wronged party will generally cry while the perpetrator declares their regrets and apologies repeatedly. Ideally, the victim will then emerge, baggy eyed and sniffling, and bestow their holy forgiveness, and all will be well. Some people claim there is redemption to be found in forgiveness. Rumor has it that it lifts your burdens and cleanses your soul.

In execution, forgiveness is murky.  Within my relationship, I don't tolerate any bullshit. I stand up for myself, loudly and often, and I demand a certain level of respect. I've always imagined that if my partner crossed The Line, I'd throw on my leather jacket, kick down the door, and speed off, preferably in a '56 Chevy Bel Air.  Imagine my surprise when push actually came to shove and my leather jacket stayed hung on his door.

This is the last place I wanted to be on a Friday night: face down in the mattress, dripping mucus, and pleading with my boyfriend to hold me. The person I trusted with my heart had been careless with it, and I wasn't telling him to leave. I wasn't telling him to sleep on the floor, I wasn't pushing him away in any shape or form, and most of all, I desperately wanted him to touch me. There was a large part of me that stepped back and watched this scene, scoffing at my neediness, my perceived weakness. I couldn't understand why this wasn't going as planned, why I wasn't flipping my hair over my shoulder and taking my ass home. 

I had to accept that I'd gone soft. I thought that I could exist in this relationship, untouched and unaltered. I didn't realize that he would find his way into my blind spots, and that his flaws would become my flaws. The places that were previously comfortably empty were now full of  him and despite his transgressions I wanted to be nowhere else. Why would I willfully punish myself when it wasn't my mistake? Why would I wrench myself apart just to remove the pieces that he put there? Just because he hurt me doesn't mean he stopped feeling like home. 

In the end, the choice to forgive was more selfish than it was virtuous. Honestly, I might've been more relieved than he was. But while he's free to walk, I have figure out whether or not I should forgive myself for not living up to my own expectations. 


This is a short story I wrote when I broke up with my previous boyfriend a few years ago. We are now good friends, and I have a new boyfriend. I think that this might still be relevant to some people.


Today I am alone. Your absence kept me awake for three days straight. I look at our empty bed, where I don’t even try to lay down and fall asleep, as I know it won’t happen anytime soon, restraining myself to the old computer chair. The brightness from the monitor is the only source of light in our room, making my spectacles shine in white. Trying to remember why you are gone, I spend countless hours staring blankly at nowhere.

I wish I could have said something to you on that night you left. I wish I could have said please, stay. Please, don’t leave me, stay just one more night. Please, don’t leave me, help me stay alive, I could have said, but that would not make any difference. You should have been gone for a long time, and what should have been a slight bump in our life have become a hole punched into me. You were mean to me, sometimes I think. Cruel, I may say… and all of a sudden I feel guilty again for thinking that. Guilty and stupid, because, of course, this was again… all my fault.

I can still smell you in your pillow and our bed sheets. The same smell that takes me back to our happy day makes me angry, makes me want to get rid of all your memories. All the letters we exchanged. All the dinners we shared, movies we laughed, songs we played on repeat and all the stories we told. I want to throw all that out, but all those memories are burnt deep into my hippocampus. And part of me is still really fond of those memories and misses you terribly.

What have I done? What have I become after those two years? I get up from my desk to get another cup of ice cubes and jack. The kitchen is filled with dishes that I should have done a few hours ago. I ignore it. The lasagna tray is too greasy anyway… I really can’t get outside wearing flippers and pajamas. I slip my old jeans and my jacket, swallowing my cup at once, and totter to the stairs, grabbing my keys on the way to the door. The street is empty but for the neighbour’s cat. I enter the store. The artificial lights and cooled air from the AC are a huge contrast with the warm night outside. Some late night shoppers walk around pushing their trolleys, minding their own businesses. At least here I am also alone. It feels good to be all by myself sometimes. To be honest, you were always dragging me around and over yourself. I pay for my drinks, and am tempted to stay a while more on that synthetic environment.

I see myself again on the computer. I still did not left my room, still on my flip-flops and pajamas. My head hurts even more, and everything starts to spin. Where are you right now? What are you doing without me?

You were an important part of my life. We shared a bed together. We traded secrets, we kissed, we fucked, we loved each other… at least I did. You made me happy, you made me smile, and you brought me breakfast in bed on our first anniversary. You did not care so much about the second one, though. What baffles me is how we let that lack of empathy take us so apart. Fights… oh, the fights. But I always apologized. Maybe it is good that you are gone. Maybe it should have happened one year ago. It would have been sad, but at least it would not be such a waste of time. My head hurts, and I need another glass.