For a long time in the early days after my wife told me the marriage was over, especially when Josh blasted onto the scene before she’d even moved out, I hated her. That deep-set anger was all that kept me going. It gave me strength, making me feel untouchable. The idea of some sort of revenge for what she’d done to me came all too easily.
It didn’t take me too long to realise that that anger, that hatred of her, was absolutely no good for me. All it was doing was eating me up and making me unhealthy. I put it aside as best I could but being totally honest it never left, not fully. Even after getting back from the walk it was still there. I’d only need to hear her name and the rage would rise from inside. This was evident as recently as last month, as was pointed out to me by some good friends.
It made me feel like I had the upper hand, giving the illusion of power and control, but that’s all it was, an illusion.
For quite a long time I’d only ever refer to her as “the witch”. Taking this further I changed the photo for her contact details on my phone to the Wicked Witch of the East, even changing the ring tone to an mp3 of said witch dying in the Wizard of Oz. Childish? Yes, but it brought a smile to my face. Before you ask no, I never spoke about her in that way in front of the girls and they never heard my phone ring if she ever called.
As funny as all that was, and is in some respects as the photo and ring tone remain, after having this deep-rooted bitterness pointed out it made me start to think; had I really moved on at all from what had happened? I’d thought I had but was I really only fooling myself?
It was almost a shock recently when I realised I was no longer calling her “the witch” but referring to her by name. Clearly something had changed inside me. It was all a bit strange and unexpected. I still don’t like to speak to her but surely this was a good step forward?
Had I really moved on at all from what had happened?
The natural progression from this was to wonder about ever forgiving her. I know, that may sound a little mad – hell, it did to me the first time that thought popped into my head. If the desire to seek revenge comes so naturally, why should or would I attempt to forgive her? Was I actually capable of doing it?
No matter how much I’d like to think so, she wasn’t solely to blame for the breakdown of our marriage. Yes, she was the one who walked away from it without giving us a chance to try and salvage it but she certainly wasn’t the only one to blame for the point we’d reached. I would like to think that over the course of the last year and a half I’ve matured in a lot of ways and recently I’ve tried to look at what happened from a different perspective, the result of which was the realisation that I was at fault too. This of course doesn’t mean I condone what she did but I do understand it a little better, or so I would like to think.
It’s easy to hold on to grudges because they make for easy excuses. Forgiving someone for what they did is hard because it means there will no longer be that excuse for your own failings. Holding on to a grudge means you can remain the victim, defining yourself by someone else’s actions and I fell into that mould all too easily. It made me feel like I had the upper hand, giving the illusion of power and control, but that’s all it was, an illusion.
Forgiving someone for what they did is hard because it means there will no longer be that excuse for your own failings.
Thoughts of revenge ate me up from the inside but I realised that by letting those thoughts go, I would be able to break free and move forward. It would then be possible to start to find meaning in all the suffering; to figure out what will be done differently next time and to realise how the pain helped me grow and to become a better person. Forgiveness will hopefully become a platform for leaping forward in my life.
Holding a grudge against her, thinking about how much of a witch she is every time she crossed my mind, sent me a text or an email was a coping mechanism. It kept the pain at bay. Thinking about forgiving her means I’ll have to take a risk; I’ll have to open myself up to the past hurt and the potential of being hurt again. This isn’t a pleasant thought but I’m willing to try.
I’m hoping I have the courage to do this. Life’s too short. Living day to day as I was isn’t healthy. If by reaching a point where I can forgive her I can properly move on then count me in!