Sunday, June 14, 2009

Forgiveness and forgetfulness

When someone else fails, I can deal with it. I rant about the shortcomings of others with regularity, but am able to look beyond most individual acts and -- if the intention was pure -- accept why it occurred, do what I can to fix it, and move on. I spend most of my time fixing the little mistakes of others, ranting about their inadequacies, and brushing them aside like buzzing flies. Annoying, but not worth my extended time.

When I fail, it is not as easily swept aside. Small mistakes are unavoidable. Acknowledged with great disdain towards that side of my humanity, but otherwise accepted. Then there are the large mistakes. Mistakes which I do not forgive as easily. Mistakes of pride, of ignorance, of thoughtlessness, of good intention, of greed. Mistakes which haunt me despite knowing that things happen and now I have learned not to make them again.

You would think that we learn from these mistakes. I, instead, replay them on a regular basis and wallow in my own self-loathing and guilt.

When I was in my late teens, I was working at my very first real job. I had no lunch one day, no money for lunch, and a long day ahead of me. A coworker I was unfamiliar with came to the lunch room as I sat - stomach growling - to wait out my forced break. He had a drink with him. A Big Gulp of goodness with ice and beads of cool water sliding down the outside of the cup. I drooled and pined for that drink. And when he got up from the table to get something from downstairs, I developed my plan. I took the cup from where he left it and went to the kitchen for a glass. I thought I could slip a small amount into a cup and he would never be the wiser. Except that he caught me. I mumbled a lame excuse and made a quick exit. I hid in the staff bathrooms until my shift began. I never spoke with him again.

Sixteen years later, I sit in my guilt. I flush at the thought of my actions. I flush with embarrassment at being caught and with disgust at the thought of my indiscretion. Someone else, I could say "It's over, you cannot go back. Let it go." But then, I have not the strict guidelines for behaviour for them as I do myself.

When a decision I make is in question, and I know I am in the wrong, I am inconsolable. That I could be wrong is inexcusable. I know better. But, I do fail. Or, if not fail, am amiss in my actions. I make choices I should not. I say things I wish I had not. I make ill-informed decisions I would take back if I could. And, when they are brought to my attention, I stew and fret and lash myself.

The good thing is this feeling will only last for 16 years or so.


  1. I do exactly the same thing. All. The. Time. I'm still reliving stupid things I did in grade 7.

  2. I am so much like that. While I was reading, I got that creeping, burning sense of shame up the back of my neck that I recall from my own incidents. Why do we hang on to these particular kinds of events so strongly?

  3. prairie nymph17/06/2009, 10:47

    I feel guilty when I don't feel guilty for past mishaps


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