Countless times, I often hear people say that we should forgive and forget like doing so is just erasing a document from your folder. ”Patawarin mo na para sa ’yo din ‘yan.” “Siya na nga ang nag-sorry ikaw pa ang mataas.” “Ang tagal na noon, bakit hindi ka pa maka-move on?” These are just a few of the lines that friends or even relatives will say to pressure you to forgive and forget. I believe in the relief of forgiving people who wronged you, but I firmly believe that forgetting will not be part of the story. We forgive but we must not forget.
I once had an entrusted person who I considered almost like a family member. I entrusted myself, my secrets, and my aspirations. Things went rough and it turned out that the person was Janus-faced doing things that did not resonate with my principles in life. I forgave that person, but I will never forget what was done.
I have been in previous relationships before getting married. Just like any normal relationship, ups and downs will be part of the picture. However, when cheating comes into the picture a number of times, there will be no point in staying. The person was forgiven, but the acts will never be forgotten.
We have our own shares of betrayals in different relationships. Sometimes, forgiving takes years, but forgetting is not part of the narrative. Forgiving the person is giving both parties the peace that they need whether or not the person asked for forgiveness. But after the forgiveness, this does not mean that matters will go back to how they were before. Imagine a business partner who hid transactions. After negotiation and confrontation, tension rises. Eventually, forgiveness is granted. But does that mean the partner deserves to be trusted again?
Imagine a friend you invited over. After the stay, you realized you lost your belongings and even resources. After managing to collect pieces of evidence, it was proven that the person who took your things was your friend. Years passed, and you see the person again. You forgive him since time heals all wounds as they say. But, this does not mean that you will be inviting the person over as if nothing has happened. Matters will never be the same unless you are ready for martyrdom or you suffered from amnesia.
Lee Kuan Yew even remarked that the Filipino culture is a soft and forgiving culture. This can be seen by how we handle our history. We can also see this with the candidates who have been winning in the previous years. They might have been impeached, proven guilty of plunder, or entangled in scandals, but they still manage to win elections as if nothing happened. We forgive and forget a lot.
We can also see this in Filipino families forcing forgiveness between conflicted family members until both parties are left with no choice but to make amends with each other. At some point, the safety protocols during the holidays like Christmas and New Year have safeguarded me from forced reconciliation. Reconciliation is best when both are ready. However, there appears to be the notion of holding grudges when forgiveness cannot be given even if the person is not ready yet. And, even after forgiveness, people expect matters to be back to how they were before.
Betrayals have been a part of our lives as we encounter different kinds of people. Sometimes, we take time before we forgive them, but it is a must to not forget what happened to protect ourselves from abuse. We may manage to heal from the cheating and betrayal and give the forgiveness that they need. However, this does not mean that we would take them back in our lives again especially when there is no guaranteed change of behavior. Forgiving can be helpful, but forgetting their actions and living as if there was nothing wrong is also tolerating their wrong actions.
As I turn 30, I promise myself to forgive more, but not to forget. Every painful encounter from betrayals teaches us something about life—we have to be careful of who we trust. We have to reflect on why such circumstances happened. After all, it is about lifelong learning.
We can forgive and move on, but it does not automatically mean forgetting. And, if we do forget, it only shows that we never learned from our mistakes.