I have been reading articles and books on forgiveness for decades now and I must tell you, I think in my case, forgiveness is overrated.
Oh, I know, “The only way we can move forward in our own lives is to forgive the one who harmed us.”
Or then there is. “We must forgive ourselves first before we can forgive others.”
Or, “I can forgive, but I’ll never forget.” I have heard it all. And to a certain extent I agree with some of the declarations of this action. Let me see now…
To Forgive means:
To stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for (an offense, flaw, or mistake).
I think I prefer the other definition: cancel (a debt).
Yesirreee, I prefer to cancel him rather than forgive him. Him meaning my ex-husband.
It has been a long time since my divorce. Since he left me and our family to raise another women’s family. My Father told me to forgive my ex-husband for all that he put me through. He told me this on his death bed. My response was that I was trying, and I will keep trying, but I wasn’t going to lie to him and say yes, I will.
I just didn’t know if I could. I still don’t know. Forgiveness was easy for my Father. It was who he was. The kindest most honorable man I have ever known. He had already forgiven him for hurting his daughter so much.
He had already forgiven the man for leaving his children for another woman.
He had already forgiven him for all the lies he inflicted on me for all those years.
He was not leaving this earth without coming to peace with him in his own soul.
He loved my ex-husband like his own son, and he too was deeply hurt. Because he loved him, he had no choice in his mind, but to forgive him. That is what he told me.
When I think of what an idiot my ex-husband was to lose such an amazing man as that as a Father-in-law, well that alone is enough to make me pause and say. “Not so Fast, you hurt my Dad too.”
When I had our second child, I didn’t just one day say, “Hot Diggity, I can’t wait to be a single parent!” Four weeks after our second child was brought into this world, I was just that; a single mother with an infant and a toddler in the wings.
When a man leaves his family weeks after the birth of his baby daughter, forgiveness is hard to find. But I told my father, that I would try. I would try. I would try. I would try. I have been trying for so long and it’s still so hard.
I have raised these children alone and through many trials. Trials that were unnecessary. Trials that a man with any integrity would not sit on the sidelines and just watch happen as if it were a TV show he was watching and not emotionally aligned with.
So, he changed the channel. Most people go to sleep with a good book on their nightstand. I am convinced my ex-husband went to bed with the divorce decree and child support outline next to his bed. Not a single paragraph deviated from. Not a single tug on his heart. It was business to him. Ignited by bizarre anger towards me and always cloaked in a financial withholding of some kind.
He seemed to need a Judge to tell him how to parent by manual. Literally by a manual. So, the three of us carried on despite him. Despite his manual.
It felt so much more attainable when I was 40. I am now 60. I have literally spent all that I have and all that I am on raising this family alone. So, why do I need to forgive him?
Forgiving him is just another thing that I must take responsibility for. No. I’m still waiting for an apology from him. Oh, I have recovered from the, “I don’t love you anymore” phase of the process. I have recovered from the, “I don’t want to participate with the kids outside of what the Judge has told me I can do” phase of the program too.
I raised our children, alone. They turned out great too. Your welcome! So, as I wait for a thank you and an apology, I’m just not ready to forgive this person. Perhaps the most empowering thing I have in my soul right now is the fact that I just don’t want to forgive him. If it is not authentic then it is not real forgiveness.
He knows how to live with lies, not me. Maybe when the story of my life draws to a close, maybe then I will pause and reach this milestone. But as we sit in a Global Pandemic and he social distant parents his kids from the comfort of his home 50 miles away over the past two months, well…I am not ready to forgive because I am still shouldering it all.
Wouldn’t it swell, if just once he phoned me in the past 20 years and said, “Thank you, Karen. Thank you for raising our children. Thank you for sacrificing so much because I was not able to fulfill the order. Thank you for being the kind woman I know you are and putting yourself last in every equation in order to give stability to our children.
Oh, and I’m sorry for all the hurt I caused you.” If I hear these words before my last breath of life, then maybe I could then forgive him. But for now, I will remember and recover, not forgive, and forget.
So, to my Father, I will indeed keep trying. That I can promise. Who knows maybe one day I will reach that place in my mind? I do hope so. But I am not bitter, and I don’t wish anything terrible to happen to him.
On the contrary, if I have ever prayed anything, it has always been that he finds the happiness he couldn’t find with me. I want to know that our sacrifices were not in vain. I want a return on this investment.
I am, for the first time in a very long time okay with who I turned out to be 20 years later. I am at peace in my own skin. And for now, I forgive myself for not forgiving him. But I will keep on trying. For my Dad.