Bougie Confession time... I am not a person who forgives easily. My memory is too specific and my well of hurt too deep to just shake things off easily. I try. I pray on it. I even tell people that I forgive them. But what I really mean when I say I forgive you is: I'm letting it go for now and hopefully forever but I won't forget. And do believe I remember exactly how this moment feels. And if I ever have a tingling that this feeling will strike again because of you, all hell is gonna break loose. What can I say, Jesus ain't through with me yet.
My problem is that when I'm wronged, I want the other person to fully understand and confess the nature of their wrong-doing. I want to educate the wrongdoer to every nuance of their wrongness breaking it down so it will forever be broke. I believe in a teachable moment. Even better if it's a pound you over the head with it moment. But I'm Southern and bougie and was brought up by a woman who believes you're only a lady if you own real pearls and a man who believed women could do anything as long as a strong male was there to approve it. So yeah... I'm nice about it. Because it's not ladylike to point how stupid and wrong other people can be over and over again.
Sorry to any of the exes that read this blog, I did say I forgave you. What I meant was, here are the xx number of ways you/I/we messed this up. It can't be un-messed but I don't want to talk about it any more. Oh and if you ever do it again, watch your back. You're forgiven... ish. To be fair, I find it hard to forgive myself for faults and failures and foibles. But I have no choice but to live with myself 24/7/365 so I get over it a little quicker.
I'm vengeful in my mind. My mind plays out a million different scenarios to make a person suffer and atone for doing me wrong. And then I feel guilty about it so I inevitably find some kinda way to let it go. But it's like being sprayed by a skunk. Have you ever had this happen? It takes forever and ever to get the smell off. You have to use special solvents and it gets in your hair and nostrils and everything you were wearing. Even when you are as clean as you can be, you still smell it. Days after you will swear you smell that stench clear as day even though you've erased all trace of it from your surroundings. Stink lingers.
Imagine if you were sprayed by a skunk repeatedly. Time and time again. Sometimes a little bit, sometimes completely doused. And it wasn't at regular intervals. In fact, sometimes you were sure that skunk had forgotten all about you. You turn a corner and blam! The little stinker nails you again. How about if the skunk sprayed me, people who looked like me, my family, my mother, her mother before that and every generation back as far as we can trace? Aren't I allowed to side-eye the skunks of this world? Wouldn't I at some point start going out of my way to avoid the skunk? Most specifically skunks that spray stinky stuff if I'm able to tell the mean skunks from the less odorous and non-spraying skunks?
This is what systemic, multi-generational oppressive and racial subjugation is. Thinking life is fine and then it stinks through no fault of your own. You get covered in stink just because. You do everything you can to live a good and full life and then someone or something makes it all go to hell. Someone wants to ruin your life just because you exist in a certain skin or shape or preference. The ruination is repetitive and random or targeted and tragic. Leaving your sense of security shot, you are wary, you look over your shoulder. But because at our core, most humans are resilient and optimistic - we press forward knowing we are going to be kicked backward. Like climbing, waiting for someone to cut the safety rope. Plus, this is the system right? To live in America is to live in a system where some days you get sprayed just because the wrong person is holding the stink-sprayer.
My point here is that I admire and sit in awe of people who can forgive their oppressors. The families of the slain victims in Charleston who came together and forgave that homicidal idiot are heroes in my book. Good on them. It's a testament of faith and good Christian values to forgive the unforgivable.
I'm saying... I'm not there yet. I'm fresh out of cheeks to turn. I've got no "Oh that poor lost soul" excuses for a man who sits down in fellowship and runs away leaving devastation behind. That's some hateful behavior. I don't hate anybody, I am friendly with everybody until given a reason not to be. But that doesn't mean I don't get mad when I see senseless tragedy. I speak my mind. You can agree or disagree but it's my truth in that moment. Love it or leave it alone.
To folks who use their social media keyboard bravery to admonish those who haven't turned the corner on denial and rage just yet, have some seats. Give people a minute. Let people accept that hatred and bigotry still exist in America and we have to discern how to live with that. In 2015. As supposedly free and happy people in what's called the best country on the planet.
Give us a minute to even grasp the concept of forgiveness and if we cannot? Allow us to fake it in the best way we know how.