This morning, I saw Facebook pictures of this girl on a night out with my friends. I was surprised to find myself tearing up, surprised that even now, the sight of her with them still felt like a punch to the gut. She and I had a history, if having someone you loved and trusted go behind your back and turn all your friends against you can be called a history. It left me completely isolated and unable to trust anyone when I desperately needed a support system to deal with bipolar disorder.
But that was more than a year ago. I had already forgiven her, even without her asking. I had forgiven the people who, for months, had listened to her talking against me without telling me anything. I even started spending time with them again, getting back some of the closeness that had been lost. Some friendships never completely recovered, but a few precious ones became stronger than before.
So why did it still hurt?
I searched myself for any desire for revenge, a longing perhaps to see her as isolated as I had been. It honestly wasn’t there. In a twisted way, I understood that what she did was justified to her, and that she had suffered as well. It was never her betrayal that did the most damage anyway, it was the passive response to it of people whom I trusted to have my back. But even those relationships have been slowly repaired.
Gradually, it dawned on me why the wound never completely healed. It was never acknowledged. After the debacle, I withdrew from everybody involved to struggle with my depression on my own. Some made efforts to reach out, but I felt too wary and vulnerable, too exhausted and battered, to respond. It was a long while before I got back in touch, and by that time everyone, including myself, just wanted things to be normal. The incident was glossed over, forgotten, never spoken of again. I could only really talk about it to one person, but to everyone else, it might as well never have happened.
I thought all I needed to do so that I could move on was to forgive. But there’s still some leftover hurt beneath the surface, an aching need for someone to say, “Yes, this happened. It was traumatic, and it hurt you — you’re allowed to be hurt. I’m hurting for you, too.” With life going on as usual, it seemed like the pain didn’t matter, that it wasn’t of any consequence to anyone, even to myself. I buried it under my desire to go back to the way things were, but this morning it reminded me that I still didn’t have closure. It reminded me that forgiveness is one thing, but healing takes not only time, but an acknowledgement that the wound is real in the first place.