This is a big one people! This word can be scary for most of us and it is partly because we really don’t completely understand it’s meaning. I was reminded of that this week when I heard my ex husband’s voice on the phone for the first time in months.
I’ve been going through this process with the understanding that forgiveness is just one of the steps you take when you are healing. Other’s say just forgive and forget. Well my friends that’s complete bull! What happened is a part of my life, it is something I will never forget because I lived it. Outside of early onset dementia, it is something that will be with me forever.
Silliness aside, I also have been going through this process thinking forgiveness is a choice, and was I willing to make it? After attending a very rewarding weekend at church just two months after my divorce, I was sure I could make that choice. I listened to several speeches on the topic, and in my heart it made me happy to say “I Forgive you.” I even went as far as writing it out, never mailing it of course, but it allowed me to go through the motions and feel like I had completed the forgiveness step.
One year later I received a letter that I had written to myself during that weekend. I looked at the envelope for at least an hour, trying to recall what I had written. I poured a glass of wine, made myself comfortable and then opened it. I hadn’t forgiven my ex that weekend, I had forgiven myself.
In that moment I decided to forgive myself for what I went through. There were many signs thrown in my face through the years and I didn’t see them; forgiven. I was faced with choices and had I chosen differently maybe the truth would have been seen; forgiven. The big one, the one that produced many tears, allowing myself to deny my intuition; forgiven.
So what is the difference between choosing and deciding? Think about a situation when you chose to do something, maybe you never did it. Now think about a situation you decided to do something, usually that produces the actual act of doing it. It’s kind of crazy how two words that are so similar can bring very different outcomes.
Which brings me back to the phone call this week. I”m still struggling with seeing or talking to my ex and I haven’t been able to figure out why. It’s been a year and a half I should not get all teary when in his company. I never decided to forgive him, so those feelings are festering inside me.
When I heard him on the phone there was a voice in my head saying “closure”. We never had closure. That day was all business and signing papers. After 20 years and three kids we didn’t get our goodbye. There was so much I wanted to say during that conversation but I stuck to the reason for the call. Inside my head I was saying everything I wanted to tell him. And I thought just because I need closure does not mean he does. I was not about to put myself into a conversation that would make me feel worse. I listened to his words and for myself I was getting closure. I found myself not letting the conversation end because my head and I were still getting things out! That was kind of funny in a way, trying to drag out a conversation when I was so fearful of hearing his voice in the first place.
It got to a point when I just couldn’t stretch it any more and it was time to say goodbye. I would normally end a phone call with just the word bye, but in this instance I said “good-bye”. I set the phone down, took a few moments, some deep breaths and out of my mouth came “I Forgive Him”.
I don’t condone what happened with our marriage, I’m not accepting it as something that was ok. I made the decision to let it go. It’s in my past and I have a future to plan for. I cannot live in fear of seeing him or hearing his voice because he will be in my life for a very long time.
As I sit here today and write all of this out I can honestly say that my heart feels a little lighter. I didn’t know it but I was still holding onto some painful feelings. My heart is more peaceful now. No one can force you into forgiveness. It is something that you have to decide to do and when you are ready. I thought I had a long time ago. It took one phone call to make me realize I wasn’t done yet.
I’d love to hear comments on this subject. It is by far the most difficult part of healing. When did you realize that you could forgive? or when did you realize you were forgiven?