When I descended from my mountain meditation I was at peace with how I was dealing with the absence of Mr. Jackpot. I felt like I was being true to myself. That I was honoring what was right for me, and in turn it would support what Mr. Jackpot needed, because it’s all connected, right? We’re all players in the vignettes that make up each others’ lives.
On the way home, at about the exact spot where I got all shimmery from telling The Genius that I needed to go to Yachats, I got a message from Ease Me. She’d barely been in residence for a half hour and she was already taking charge, making plans, and nagging me. I can tell she is rather feisty (excited to finally get started?), in a totally blissed out kind of way.
“What? You want me to do what?”
“Don’t you think it’s a little soon for that? Aren’t I supposed to do that on his death bed so he can leave the Earth feeling a tad better about himself, and I can bank some karma points? Like, in about 50 years?”
“You’re crazy. But I mean that in the gentlest way possible.”
Darn it. She said it three times. It was going to happen. I was going to forgive The Genius.
I’ll give you a moment to gather yourself, I had to.
I thought, It’s not possible. How can I forgive him for what he’s done when he feels that he was justified in his behavior? That it was because of me that he had to have an affair? How can I let him off the hook? Why do I have to get betrayed AND be the one who has to forgive? Why am I doing all the work?
“Because this is about you and not him.”
It’s about me. It’s about working through the betrayal and taking this process all the way to the only possible conclusion: forgiveness. I want to be free of this. The only way to be free is to forgive. Ease Me was spot on. Getting from fighting forgiveness to knowing I had to forgive him was like crossing a crevasse in the Khumbu Ice Fall on Mt. Everest. It only took seconds but it required every ounce of courage I could muster.
Holy arachnid, I am going to forgive The Genius.
A full body smile, one that emanated from my entire being, right down to my flipper feet, overtook me. I felt so full of it. The smile, that is. It was genuine and rich and big. And it made me feel so very good. Then I got butterflies. They felt good, too. For the first time in months I felt excited about speaking to The Genius.
But first I had to be sure that I was truly ready and willing to fully forgive him and not just responding to Ease Me’s request out of a desire to please. That evening I meditated on forgiveness. I poked around in my heart to see how I felt about The Genius. I conjured up an image of him, something I never proactively did, and spent time studying it. I looked in his eyes and saw a man. A person. With faults and fears, and hopes and dreams, and confusion about his journey. A person who made choices and mistakes. Just like me. A person who hurt me deeply, but not as deeply as he hurt himself. As I looked at him, I realized that he was going to be dealing with the fallout of his betrayal for a long time. It would wrap both its arms around his neck and hang on securely for the duration, because it no longer had to hold on to me, too. I was about to gracefully and bravely make my exit from this vignette and leave The Genius to star in it alone. I was ready to forgive him.
I didn’t have to convince myself that I wasn’t condoning his behavior by forgiving him. I knew it and believed it. I wasn’t letting him off any hook. I didn’t even have the power to do that. I fully grasped that this was about me. Not about teaching him a lesson, or being the bigger person, or doing something to improve how we related to each other. Forgiving him was not about setting an example, or making a statement.
Forgiving The Genius is about loving myself. It’s about being kind to myself. I trust that by forgiving him I will be free of my sadness, anger, and fears. How could I pass up that opportunity? I texted him that night.
“I have something I want to share with you. Can we speak in the morning after I drop the boys off?”
I woke up like it was the first day of freshman year in high school and my outfit was going to rock. I was ready to dress and greet the world with my arms flung out to the sides and my heart beating visibly in my chest. My eyes twinkled. The boys noticed.
“Mom, you look so pretty today.”
I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had showered, I had not yet brushed my teeth, and the Little Dipper of the Adult Acne World was forming on my left cheek from resting my hand against it as I pondered word after word, writing at my keyboard for hours on end.
Note to self: Must figure out a way to bottle high from deciding to forgive and sell it at Sephora.
I dropped the boys off at school and drove home with a core full of love and joy. And the world’s most jacked-up butterflies. My toes tingled, my head was buzzy, and my smile was bleeding off my face. I had to ground myself. I needed to calm down and center. I sat in the garden for five minutes and let my heart talk about why this move was important. And so very necessary. I heard myself say the words, I forgive you and let myself experience how they felt coming from my mouth.
They felt smooth, and warm, and genuine. They came right from my heart. Not my mind.
I was ready.
I called his number. It went to voice mail.
When you are ready to do something like this you are ready TO DO IT. I wanted at that conversation. I couldn’t wait another second. My insides felt like a storm crammed in a tea cup. My hands shook as I texted him.
“Are you free to talk?”
Those better be minutes. Seconds, preferably. I closed my eyes and tried to breath. What I am about to do feels so right. So relax, Cleo. If it wasn’t right you wouldn’t be so flat out excited to do it. You’d be vacillating. You’d know that your intent wasn’t pure. But it is. So settle down and be in it. Get out of your head, ground in your core, and be very present for this call. The transformation is going to be epic. Don’t miss a second of it.
“Hey.” I detected a little nervousness on his end. It had no affect on me.
“I have something I want to share with you.” I paused, breathed deeply through my nose and said, “I forgive you. For betraying me, for lying to me, (right about here I started to choke up) for cheating on me.”
There was silence and then he shuddered. He was expecting that like he was expecting me to tell him that we won the Mega Millions lottery, and I wanted to build a chateau with a wing just for him and The Happy Dance Chick, so we could all live together in one big polygamist pigpen.
“Thank you.” He said it like I had just punched him in the stomach.
“That took a lot of courage. Thank you.”
I remained silent except for the air that was being sucked into my chest in small heaves. He cried.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be the man you wanted me to be.”
I left that statement in mid-air, unwilling to touch it, or bat it back. It had nothing to do with me, it wasn’t said for my benefit, and this was what forgiveness was all about – knowing when to engage because it involves me and knowing when to remain still because it doesn’t. Gaining insight. Developing discernment. Being open to receiving these gifts because they now have an uncluttered place in which to take up residence.
I was so full of love and peace and gratitude that I heard only bits and pieces of the balance of the conversation. Something about rebuilding our relationship, how we came together with such force, the boys…none of it mattered to me at that point. I simply wanted to celebrate the power of forgiveness. I wanted to luxuriate in the feeling of being free.
I looked over my shoulder as I walked away from pain, from dishonesty, from this time in my life. I gently said goodbye to The Genius. He thanked me for the fourth time. I put the phone down and cried. Tears of joy. Tears from being so proud of me. Then I took stock. How did it make me feel to forgive him?
It made me feel whole. Uncomplicated and whole.
Which was a good thing because life was still going to be complicated. Especially after I logged in to HGM and saw that Mr. Jackpot had commented for the first time.
Things are about to get spicy.