[adjective; ~ Pronunciation: /in-tran-si-juh nt/]
- Definition: The incapacity of agreeing on something or finding a compromise. If a person (say, me) is intransigent, it means they are inflexible in one way or another. I am completely and utterly intransigent when it comes to forgetting the harm people caused me, which leads me to be confused: can you forgive someone without forgetting, or is that impossible?
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” – Mahatma Gandhi
Last night I had a dream. I was doing a book signing of my first fantasy novel, which was the pure definition of best-seller, mind you, and the line of people waiting to meet me was so long, it ran all the way out of the department store I was in, down the street and around the corner.
“My people”, sitting behind me, told me it was nearly six o’clock and time was up, but I was adamant to sign every single book of everyone who had taken the time to come see me, even if it meant sitting there until midnight. And so I kept shaking hands, taking selfies with fans, and signing books, until I looked up and saw P standing in front of me, holding a copy of my work and smiling at me.
P was my biggest bully in high school. He tormented me for just about every day I went there, for six years straight. Once he let me off the hook for a good two weeks or so, but only after I had broken down and talked to a teacher, who had then ventured out to tell P he would be suspended if the teacher would receive one more complaint from me.
In my dream though, P acted as if we were old high school buddies and nothing bad had ever happened. He told me he bought a copy of my book for his girlfriend, as she was a big fan, and wanted to get it signed to surprise her.
I opened the book and started to flick through the pages, asking P if he’d read it himself. He said no. I continued by nonchalantly telling him how I personally liked the ending the best, as that’s where my talent really pops out. I told P that even during my college years, the final chapter, the conclusion, had always been my strong point. How the coming together of the facts and making the puzzle complete was my favourite part.
I looked up and saw him staring at me with a confused look on his face, unaware I remembered his bad traits more than anything else. I smiled at him, turned the pages of his copy until I got to the “best part of the story”, chuckled as I reminded him that this ending made the book whole. That without it, the story was incomplete. I put my hand on the opened book, softly tapping the printed words with my fingertips.
Then I ripped out the final pages, leaving his copy useless and torn.
When I woke up I had mixed feelings. I was happy about the being a successful writer part (wouldn’t we all?), but felt a bit confused about the demolishing my book part. It left me thinking: what is forgiveness, and is it linked to forgetting or are these two completely different concepts? Can one exist without the other?
I am not a very forgiving person, I admit to that. I thought I’d become better at it over the years, but there’s this thing I call my Defence System and here’s how it works: whenever someone hurts me beyond limits, I cut them off. They’re out of my life, no second (or third) chance, au revoir and enjoy a life without me.
My Defence System works automatically and there’s no manual override available. I’ve softened through time, but the basis of the system remained intact. I always assumed it was fuelled by my lack of forgiveness, but now I think it’s because I can’t forget.
If someone hurts me, I’ll never forget it. Even now, almost fifteen years later, I still remember P’s exact words as he stormed out of his house while I was doing my paper round, laughing and screaming at me: “Shall I kill you off completely? You’re a corpse already, any way!” That moment and those words will never leave my memory, no matter how hard I’ll try.
I understand P had his own life and his own problems and probably took it out on me. Kids, especially teenagers, are cruel. During those years you try to find out who you are while being hit by so many different expectations, problems, growth issues, hormones, and whatever else. I get it, it’s chaos and everyone’s confused. I disapprove of what P (and many others, he wasn’t the only one – *sigh*) did to me, but a big part of me can understand that and is at peace with what happened.
That’s what I think is my forgiveness.
But another part of me cannot forget. Even if I wanted to, my mind won’t let me. Tell me a useless fact and I’ll probably remember it until the day I die, my memory is funny like that. Hurt me and I’ll remember that even after I’ve died, and prepare to be haunted by my spirit seeking revenge (just kidding though – or am I?).
Forgiving and forgetting are two things I can’t rhyme. Do I choose one over the other or am I to opt for a mixture of the two? I am confused and a little upset.
This is where I am intransigent: I’ve decided to be more forgiving, but cannot ever give up my brilliant memory. I won’t. And even if I wanted to, my Defence System won’t allow it.
So if you want to read the ending of my (future?) book, I suggest you better treat me kindly and with respect 😉
The same goes for if you want to be able to sleep at night after I’ve died. Just saying…