There is a lyric in the song, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” from the musical Hamilton, that is so heart-wrenchingly beautiful, my eyes well up with tears nearly every time I hear it. Alexander Hamilton has been estranged from his wife, Eliza, because of his own poor choices. But in the face of monumental grief and despair because of their son’s death, Alexander pleads to Eliza to allow him to stay by her side. In one of the most touching moments produced onstage, Eliza takes Alexander’s hand while her sister and the chorus sing about forgiveness.
Forgiveness is such a difficult thing! It’s the people who are closest to us that wield the power to hurt us the deepest. For my friends and me, those people tend to be parents or spouses, but whoever they are, they’re in our inner circle, know our most private thoughts, and have earned our trust. So when they hurt our feelings, the pain can last for years or even decades.
“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”
Confucius is incredibly insightful. Those of us who have been hurt continue to harbor the pain, not the person who inflicted the wound. Think about this! You are the person harmed, yet by being unable to forgive, YOU are the one who is not at peace.
Forgiveness isn’t to be taken lightly. Things that don’t matter much don’t need to be forgiven. Our pain is authentic and trespasses can be significant. Those of us holding onto real emotional wounds need to evaluate whether to forgive, which is not the same as forgetting. There are no easy, one-size-fits-all answers. Philosophical questions surround the issue too, such as whether certain offenses are unforgiveable.
In my latest romance, It’s Not a Date, one of my main characters, Kadrienne Davenport, has suffered from guilt made worse by her father’s harsh words and actions. Part of her has never moved on; she’s never forgiven him. And this unresolved issue affects her relationship with Jennifer Spencer, the woman she’s falling for, because it impacts how she sees herself and how she measures her worthiness to be loved.
This weighty topic might not sound particularly romantic, but being able to open one’s heart is a requisite for falling in love.
Children tend to grow up believing that their parents are the ones who should provide guidance and answers, but in reality, many parents lack the emotional tools to meet their children’s needs. So if a parent emotionally hurts a child, the child can be left rudderless and confused.
This is the situation Kade faces. Kade’s father is not a paragon of fatherhood. Instead of waiting for him to be the father she needs him to be, Kade has to finally decide whether or not to forgive him, and she needs to turn inward to make that determination. Her ability to forgive is hers to control, not his. And if she can forgive him, then maybe—just maybe—she can find peace with him and with herself.
Jen helps Kade reevaluate her stance on her relationship with her father. Jen, a kind and tenacious woman, plants the seed for Kade to consider whether there’s a better alternative to her ongoing bitterness toward him that has never yielded fruit—one in which Kade might be able to let go of the pain and move on.
With respect to Hamilton, forgiveness is not about what Alexander deserves; it’s about what Eliza deserves. Forgiveness doesn’t require reconciliation, though Eliza and Alexander ultimately reconcile. Eliza is never going to forget what Alexander did. But she can forgive. And in doing so, she isn’t rewarding Alexander. She is rewarding herself by letting go of her resentment and anger.
Heather Blackmore was a Goldie award finalist in the Debut Author category and Runner Up for Best Lesbian Contemporary Fiction and Best Lesbian Debut in the Rainbow Awards for her romance, Like Jazz. Visit http://www.heatherblackmore.com.
It’s Not a Date is now available from Bold Strokes Books, Amazon, B&N, and other booksellers.