Setting the Prisoner Free

Ashley - albuquerque, New Mexico
Entered on April 26, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in forgiveness. I couldn’t always say that. There was a time, not too long ago, when I couldn’t bring myself to utter the word. I was a prisoner of my own anger, of my own fear, and I never knew it. I didn’t believe in forgiveness, or second chances, until I got one.

August 30th 2004 was the second day of what was already shaping up to be a crappy sophomore year. The call came to my second period home room, and I stumbled through the empty halls on crutches because I’d thrown out my knee the day before. Seeing my parents crying and looking at me with such sad eyes, like they knew what the next 3 years were going to hold for me, my heart lurched. And I’ll never forget that moment when the words tumbled out of my grim father’s mouth. It was moment that defined the next 3 years for me, and it shattered everything I thought I’d ever known about my life.

“Honey, Ricky shot himself.”

Ricky had been my best friend since I was 4, and he was gone. It would be easy to say that the next 3 years passed by in a blur of medical issues, missed classes, and broken friendships, but that would be a lie. The truth of the matter is that those 3 years were the longest, most agonizing 3 years of my life, and I remember every single second of them.

I considered getting a tattoo in remembrance of him last summer. My Mom threw a fit. It wasn’t the tattoo she objected to. It was the fact that I was still letting Ricky make decisions for me. And I was angry at what she said, but she was right. A tattoo of all baggage looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life. And I didn’t do it.

That’s when I realized I had to let it go. If I was ever going to really move on, I had to forgive him. And finally, I was able to. I forgave him for leaving, forgave him for hurting me, and forgave him for everything. In forgiving him, I was finally able to forgive myself. I let myself breathe again, a shuttering first breath of a person deprived of oxygen for 3 years.

So I believe in forgiveness. I believe in forgiving those who fail us, with or without intentions, and I believe in forgiving ourselves when we fail others. I believe in forgiving those we loose, through death or dispute or distance. I believe in forgiving ourselves above all else, because it is only when you forgive yourself that you set yourself free, when you didn’t even realize that you were the prisoner. I am free. I am free to live my life and love it and enjoy it. I am free to share my joys and my tragedies with the people around me. I believe in forgiveness, no matter how long it takes.