Forgiveness. I have not always been very good at it, especially in forgiving myself. Being a recovering perfectionist I understand how defeating it can be to not allow oneself or others to make mistakes. Author Hara Marano noted in last April's Psychology Today magazine that "Success hinges less on getting everything right than on how you handle getting things wrong."
This means that getting everything right isn't nearly as important as how we react to getting things wrong, because eventually we will make a mistake.
As many Portlanders & now folks around North America know, current mayor Sam Adams has made some very terrible mistakes in the last few years. Having a sexual relationship with a just turned 18 year old intern was possibly a mistake. It certainly was not helpful to the young man who has drifted along in his early adulthood without true guidance that he should have had. Instead of actually mentoring this young man he was a lover & then perhaps a friend, but not someone who was deemed worth helping to become his own best self. That was certainly a mistake on Sam Adams part.
Mr Adam's reaction to being questioned about his relationship with the young man is where the really wrong turn came. Here is a quote in Just Out from yours truly about that: “What gets me is not just that Sam lied, but the elaborate concoction of that lie... He wrote a letter to the city saying he was a target of a smear. He said he was a mentor. He said he was innocent of an attack against his character and his sexuality. How dare he use his orientation as a tool of deceit.”
If Mr. Adams had just flatly denied the allegations or even gave a none of your beeswax type response the initial possible error (I say possible because shagging someone who is freshly 18 by an older adult is not always great but certainly not always bad) wouldn't have been such a big deal. Instead though Sam Adams wrote a letter to the city disparaging the people who had brought fourth the information about his relationship, coached the young man on how to lie about there affair & get his own staff & possible hire more staff to keep the story under wraps.
Mr. Adams reaction to his mistake was to make several more mistakes & too boot use the excuse of being a mentor to the young man as a cover for his relationship. This is what, as a queer woman, hurts the most. We in the LGBTQ community already have the whole predator stigma to contend with as it is. So using mentoring as an excuse just makes our work with youngsters appears that much more precarious. Yes, I am disgusted by such a painful lie.
That being said, I am working on forgiveness of Sam Adams and after careful thought I believe he should remain Portland's mayor. The one caveat is that if it is the case that Mr. Breedlove & Adams were lovers before Breedlove was 18, then obviously Sam would need to step down.
Portland is a great city & I believe we can forgive him and move on. It will be a scar on the collective heart of the city, but a city is comprised of many wounds, that eventually heal. We can take a cue from his behavior & remember within ourselves to be honest about our mistakes & hold ourselves accountable without being slaves to ego and self destruction. We can open our arms to his wisdom, keeping in mind our hearts may take a little longer to open again. We can let him try to regain our trust, but keep one eye open to the possibly of more pain. He has wronged over & over. Yet I know of no human who hasn't & thus we must learn to forgive.
The Campaign for Love & Forgiveness has some really wonderful resources to work through the process of forgiveness. An e-card can be sent to Sam Adams telling him you forgive him here (please note you have to have an account with Portlandonline.com). You can do a very helpful online ritual to let go of someone or something that you need to forgive here. And lastly you can learn to forgive yourself & make peace with the past. Here are Fred Luskin's nine steps to self forgiveness.