I have a lot of scars on my body from when I was a child. I was a rumblin tumblin shorty and got all scraped up everywhere, but the scars aren’t from when I first got scraped. They’re from me repeatedly ripping my scabs off over and over again. I never liked how healing over scabs looked, and I had an anxious tendency to pick at them until the fresh, bright red blood would ooze out. Even as I was causing myself pain - wincing as I ripped off the brown, crusty scabs - something was satisfying about it. So, I’m scarred.
I recently received a parking citation that felt something like ripping the scab off a healing wound.
Confused because I rarely get tickets and pay them promptly when I do, I angrily punched in the ticket number to look up the information. The citation was from a year and a half ago, when I was out of town and had loaned the car to a friend at the time. She didn’t tell me about it. Livid, I found myself mentally racing through the long list of harms I’d experienced over the course of our relationship. I got mad all over again about things I thought I’d moved past.
That’s the thing about forgiveness - it’s a cycle. It’s not some magic moment where all transgressions are forgotten, it’s an ongoing process like most things in our lives. If I’d truly “forgiven” everything in the mainstream sense, I would have been able to hold all of the hurt and pain that I’d been caused and move on without further judgments about this person’s character. But I couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. Because the wounds have not fully healed. And because they were not fully healed, that one parking ticket turned into “yet another” example of how I’d been wronged, just like the time that yadda yadda yadda.
So maybe forgiveness isn’t a magic moment where healing happens immediately and everyone skips off into the sunset. To me, it exists in the space between our healing - when it hurts. I became angry because I’d never allowed myself to feel hurt to the extent that I actually was. I shoved it down, kept it hidden away, and wrote people off - all to hide the fact that I was still bleeding. I have to give myself space to bleed and hurt and grieve about my boo boos.
Because when I don’t, I collect small offenses and tuck them away in my back pocket for later use.
musings of a Black, queer and genderqueer activist, educator, musician.