I want to talk about love.
There is a tendancy, in our awakened, liberated, self-loving society, to remove forgiveness from loving. This is not to say that advances in dismissing love which does more harm than good is not an incredible sign of progression. People realising that they deserve the cake not just the crumbs, given by a person who does not love or respect them, is a triumph in realising self-worth. But I can’t help but wonder if this constant enforcement that forgiving someone’s mistakes is a sign of weakness or disregard for your own value, creates a problematic relationship with relationships. With what a relationship truly is.
I’m beginning to believe that forgiving and creating tolerance for a person’s development and growth, shows more strength than admirably activating the ejection button. I’m not suggesting the tolerance of toxicity or pure evil, we all know when someone maliciously has set out to hurt us, when someone is so lost in themselves that no refuge can be found in us, but what about the people who just fucked up? The people that we love and know are intrinsically ‘good’, whatever the fuck that means, who merely neglected to consider the consequences of their actions.
Is my feminism diminished if I decide to ‘stand by my man’? I am so guilty of supporting a 0 tolerance response to fucking up. My friends only come to me when they need to hear that it’s gone too far, that it’s time to leave. But what if, in my preaching and my damnation of negative male traits, I’m actually in a process of dehumanisation. Not just an intolerance to arseholes but a genuine misunderstanding of what it is to be human. In what it is to manoeuvre your own feelings and expectations whilst carrying someone else’s. That’s a learning curb. You can’t get into a car at 17 and know how to drive, or pass your test, the likelihood is that you would fail.
I fail at something every day. For example, I know how to be a good daughter yet on the days where my daemons are the loudest, I am a monster to my mother. Of course it’s dangerous to suggest that we can be the cruellest to those closest to us, but isn’t that true? If my mum could dump me every time I showed a disrespect for her feelings or I acted in a way that wasn’t thoughtful or loving, we wouldn’t have a relationship. Love requires forgiveness. It needs depth and breadth and context and understanding and that’s why it’s the subject of poets, and songwriters and novelists. It cannot be summed up in an Instagram caption that says ‘you were too good for him anyway.’ Sure, I’m not talking about a love not worth fighting for. If he dumps you because you’ve put on weight or you’re not your best self because your having a hard time, Hunny, I’ll hold your earrings whilst you punch a wall, devour a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and I preach about how that boy ain’t man enough.
But if it’s real love. If it’s salvageable from toxicity and it’s merely a mistake, an obstacle, a lesson, why should you be deemed to have a pathology because you’re willing to go back and solve it? Words thrown around like a cough on the tube; co-dependent, weak, desperate, stupid, all illuminate the simple desire to find real love. Love which sadly is not born out of boundaries and rules, but forgiveness and vulnerability.
Relationships are dangerous, they can be unhealthy and they can control our every move. The line is fine between forgiveness and denial. But if you have clarity of what you want, how much love you’re willing to give and what you expect to receive, whilst protecting yourself from unrealistic expectations through communication and understanding, why shouldn’t you work on a love with someone who made a mistake. Someone that perhaps forgot for a second that their actions may have impacted you.
These things are lateral, we cannot all scream #dumphim every time someone that we love fucks up. The shaming of women especially, who forgive their arsehole boyfriends does not allow for the understanding that to love fully, requires forgiveness. Perhaps the strength is not always in walking away, but in staying. We worry what people will think, we craft the narrative so that it fits with our ideals, or societies ideals but at the end of the day, there is no prize for admirability. For restraint from something that you know may be worth fighting for, worth striving for, worth forgiving for.
For a moment, in those self-love books, the one night stands, the unrequited love, the dating apps and the intolerance toward men, I stopped believing in true love. The idea of it became, obsolete, redundant, just another ideal that didn’t serve me and my #dumphim tee. But then in falling in love with myself, I realised how much forgiveness and patience, love really takes. I constantly fuck-up. I do what’s bad for me, because I don’t always enjoy what’s good for me. I neglect my skin, yet when I’m ready I come back to the routine with a softer touch. I snap at a loved one when my patience is lost, but rather than blaming and punishing, I find an understanding in the trigger aiding future impulses. I do all of this and more with love and tenderness because I know that I’m worth it. So if you’ve found someone, who you think is worth it, and you understand that you don’t have the power to change them or dictate the way that they feel about you, and you love them regardless: is forgiving such a crime?
I admire those who take a stand, who don’t take fools gladly and who adopt the mantra of one strike and you’re out. I think it is empowering and I think it shows a knowledge of ones own boundaries, tolerance and worth. But for the first time, in a long time, I also admire those that stay. Those that believe in change, forgiveness and the hope that anything worth having never comes easily. Because let’s face it, life is hard, and if you feel stronger facing that with someone that you love, with someone that you have already overcome so many hurdles with, someone that you have grown with, aren’t you better fit to tackle the troubles yet to come?
My belief in love is certainly not a disregard of all that I have learnt. I know that to look for validation, approval, confidence and worth in the eyes of another, is problematic. I know not to accept behaviour patterns that I have endured before. Jealousy, possession, neglect and disrespect. Yet, I have realised that not settling for these things, is not signing the contract for a life alone. I believe in love. I believe that this love does not exist in a gesture of a glass slipper or the kiss of life, I believe that this love is impossible without forgiveness. I often think that condemnation, blame and grudges do more damage to the person holding them, than to the one receiving them. So when I do meet someone worth loving, I will remember the art of forgiveness, of patience and tolerance.
Sorry girls, but when you next come to me looking for a boyfriend annihilation, I may now start with: ‘Have you communicated this?’ or ‘Do you think this is something you can work past?’
Of course, if you answer yes, followed by no then fuck me, wind me up and watch me go. But from now on, the idea that love can exist if we hold on to the idea that forgiveness is vital, that love without forgiveness is like a Summer with no sun, will be at the forefront of my increasingly awakened mind.
Power to you. Know your worth and believe in love. x