The Price of My Forgiveness.
Be careful of who you find yourself forgiving again and again. Not because forgiveness is wrong, but because it is golden. It is worth it, yet it takes something.
It demands energy and tolerance, patience and compassion. It transmutes you when you decide that your faith in a person is worth more than your desire to cling to their mistakes. Forgiveness cannot be given because of an expected return. But it will be so much the better if you ensure that your forgiveness, like your love, is given from a place of equality.
Forgiveness is an alchemy through which you will change and the world will change. The pathways formed by blame are intoxicating. They have their own gravity. They will call to you, daily, and to choose to forgive means to begin a battle that the most unconditional love can struggle through.
I learned a lot about myself when I realized that my desire to see someone find solace was stronger than my own need for revenge. I learned too much about myself when I quietened, when I wanted my sweetness to be an antidote for the sting of remorse in others that may have done its own turbulent form of good.
I learned the most when I felt down to my bones what it feels like to not be forgiven. My advice is to find people who are as ready for your love as they are for your flaws. Or else someday it will be your turn, and you will need it from them, and it will not be there. In this journey in which I know I’ll never be perfect, I commit to being accepted before I am adored, understood before I am wanted.
I face the hardest truth of all: I have no idea how to forgive myself. Maybe I attract people who mirror extremes of punishment because it is what I seek without knowing. Perhaps the grace with which I let go and surrender my own flaws will be matched as I learn to see and live with my own innocence, mistakes, and inexperience. It is I who sets the standard and I who sets the price.
I now accept myself exactly as I am. I have no regrets.
If you are going to be forgiven and will live in peace precisely because of that, do not forget your peace was brought to you from the anger someone quelled. Follow their drops of blood and read their scars like lines on a map. And if you still do not understand the weight of their forgiveness and all it cost them, may any mercy you receive turn to ashes in your mouth.
Until the day they are worth the type of sacrifice that they bestow on you with all their strength, may the same not be done for you. And if you do not base your perception of them off the love they’ve given in your name, may the weight of any guilt they lift off you crush you with three times its strength.
Melissa Slayton is from Summerville, South Carolina, and has a degree in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. Her poems and stories can be found in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, San Pedro River Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Apalachee Review, Pinesong, South Carolina Yearbook, Rebelle Society, and the Artist Unleashed, among others. She is an assistant editor with Vine Leaves Press, and has attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and the Hub City Writing-In-Place Conference as the recipient of the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s Summer Scholarship. You could contact her via her website.