It’s a habit.
Well, no, it’s more than a habit. Thinking is what I do and, to be honest, I can’t imagine how some people manage to function on a regular basis without it — regardless of the overwhelming evidence of the lack of this basic activity among so much of the population.
But that’s not what this blog post is about.
As has happened several times on this blog, I read something and it got me to thinking.
This is what I read. It prompted me to think many thoughts.
When I first started this blog, I had made up my mind that I didn’t want to write about That Man. I told myself that he belong to the crucible that I am beyond, that he does not have a role to play in Act IV, scene i of My Life and Beyond. All that was to be yesterday’s news.
But if you’ve been reading this blog, then you know how I’ve been fretting about how much I think and talk about him. My daughters, who occasionally have more sense than me (at least when it comes to other people’s stuff), assured me that I need to talk to heal and anybody who would shut me up does not have my best interests at heart.
When I finally fessed up to the fact that I am also an abuse survivor (not just my children) and
mostly stopped telling myself that I didn’t suffer nearly as much as my kids did, it was both freeing and therapeutic. Gina sent me a text:
I want you to know that I could just feel the burden just lifting off your shoulders when I read your post about economic abuse. I’m glad you’ve found the answers you’d been looking for!!!
(Well, I’m starting to, Gina. I’ve still got work to do.)
It’s important to Speak. Silence robs you of the opportunity for support, validation. Silence makes it impossible to heal.
Silence also makes it impossible to forgive. And, if you can’t forgive, it never goes away.
My children and I have occasionally had some creative conversations about various ways and means to cause pain, suffering and eventual death to That Man. It can be an amusing pastime but I have often concluded those conversations by piously telling my children the old saying that the best revenge is a well lived life.
That may be true but I have realized that doing well doesn’t get me any closer to forgiveness — which means it doesn’t get me any closer to healing.
As of right now, I really do think I am past the stage of wanting, as I once expressed it to my daughter’s counselor, to “slowly peel him out of his skin” (although I will confess that I would not be dreadfully upset to hear that his fellow inmates expressed their disapproval of the crime he committed in the way inmates often do, or so I am told).
But what I really want is to get myself to the point where I don’t care about him anymore, where he genuinely does not matter. As the above paragraph demonstrates, I’m not quite there yet.
Forgive him? There is so much to forgive him for, so much that I have never complained about to anybody but my children. So much that I didn’t feel I had the right to complain about because (I told myself) other people suffered much more devastating mistreatment than I did. I had convinced myself that I didn’t even deserve my own sympathy, never mind anybody else’s.
And when I did talk — to my kids or my stud muffin — I felt guilty about it, like I was covertly whining, “feel sorry for me, feel sorry for me!” And I despised myself for it.
I have finally admitted to myself that I need to forgive him — which is not to say “It’s all right” in that whiny, saccharine-sweet, passive-aggressive, insincere way we’ve all heard before. What he did — all the long litany of things he did that I never complained about because at least he didn’t hit me — will never be okay. But I need to divorce forgiveness of him from any wish or desire on my part to make him grovel at my feet for the wounds he inflicted upon my children
but even more than that and upon me. I need to be able to forgive him even though I know he’ll never ask for it.
I need to forgive him because that’s the final step in healing.
So what does that mean? Some people say it means that you can sincerely pray for the one who wronged you.
For the non-religious among us, I guess that translates into this: I will have forgiven him when I can wish him well.
That was even hard to type.
I can tell this isn’t going to be easy and I have a lot of work to do since I have spent so much time denying myself even the right to be as hurt and angry about it all as I really am. But, in many ways, being able to forgive him has nothing to do with him. For as long as I hide all this resentment and pain in my heart, and deny myself the right to it, I will never be rid of it. I will never be rid of him.
This is for me.