Today’s quote comes from the movie Grosse Pointe Blank. I’ve seen it a couple of times, and I remember enjoying it, but nothing about it stuck with me.
Well, except for this:
Some people say “Forgive and forget.” I dunno. I say forget about forgive, and just accept.
That is, in my opinion, a pretty serious little nugget of wisdom. It’s also a mentality I worked hard at developing at a transitional time in my life. Considering that it comes from a comedy about an assassin (played by John Cusak) attending his 10-year high school reunion just makes it stand out all the more.
I was raised in not the greatest of environments. For a lot of reasons that I’m not prepared to delve into right now, my father was not a nice person, a bad parent, and a continually looming presence in my life. I remember speaking to a brother once, as adults looking back on a fucked-up childhood, and he summed up the entire family dynamic in four words: “Fear Dad. Love Mom.” And he was right. Every single move that I made for over 20 years of my life was based on one thought – “Will it make Dad angry?” Even after I got out of the childhood home, and even after my father cut off all contact, that habit remained.
He died around six months before I moved provinces, a move that I used to make the proverbial fresh start. I left behind a lot of toxicity, and nothing was more toxic than my father’s effect on my life. I felt a lot of things towards our relationship – anger, grief, confusion, helplessness.
And I came to two conclusions. One was that none of the things I felt were healthy or helpful. The other was that nothing I felt or did was ever going to change the way he’d treated me.
So I worked very hard at letting go, and this quote rather nicely encapsulates how I went about it. See, I can’t forgive my father. He was an adult and I was a child, and he took full advantage of that uneven power dynamic to control and oppress me, the lingering effects of which I feel to this day. I also can’t forget my father or the things he did, because that’s not how memory works, and even if it did, I’d be cutting damn near half my life out of my brain.
What I can do, however, is accept. I can accept that my father was the person he was, and my childhood was what it was, and none of that can be changed. But now I have a choice: I can let all those negative years continue to cloud my future, or I can take whatever good there was to take from my experience and run with it.
I like to think that run with it, I have.
To see previous posts in my Quote series, click here.