For years I preached forgiveness and compassion to my sons. Then one day I realized they had learned something I had never been taught…when someone does you harm, you are better off not giving them the opportunity to do more harm and, that is why I’ll never be friends with my ex.
I don’t have an issue with the way my ex has treated me since our divorce. I’m an adult, can brush it off and get on with my business. I have major issues with the way he has treated our sons since the divorce and in my mind, sharing any sort of friendship with him would be doing them a grave injustice.
We’ve not discussed this subject but I image my children would feel terribly betrayed if I chose to engage in a friendly relationship with their father at this point. I say, “at this point” because they are both adults. The time for civil co-parenting has come and gone. My ex, their father used those years to thwart every attempt I made at co-parenting and to also belittle, dismiss and emotionally abuse our children whenever possible.
Instead of giving to them what they deserved from a father he took from them what every child needs from a father. For me, that is the bottom line. There were things our sons needed that could only come from him. They needed a male role model, someone they could look up to and learn what it meant to be a man. They needed things that I alone could not give them. He made a conscious decision to deny them those things.
And by doing so he made me his life-long enemy.
I saw a video of Iyanla Vanzant, she was speaking to a single mom whose ex never communicates with or sees their son. This single mother had come to the conclusion that it was because the father “just didn’t care.” Iyanla asked her who had made her the decision maker, why this mother thought it was her place to assign reasons for the father’s actions.
Iyanla said, “what about shame or a fear of being vulnerable?” In other words, this father had abandoned his child and there was an excuse…an acceptable reason? I call bullshit!
I’ve felt vulnerable, extreme shame, anxiety, hell you name it I’ve felt it; especially after being left to raise two sons on my own. None of those emotions led to me abandoning my sons. We all have emotions that are uncomfortable and hard to deal with, at no time is that an excuse to turn our backs on your children.
As a society, we are quick to encourage forgiveness and compassion. Doesn’t that shut down valid criticism and leave victims feeling frustrated and unheard or, even worse not cared about? I dearly wish I could experience that Zen frame of mind, feeling nothing but love and compassion in my heart but I think it would be doing me and my children no favors. There are some actions that are unforgivable.
To be friends with my ex would mean sending my sons the message that it is OK to be treated badly. Their father’s actions toward them have been emotionally oppressive bullshit and I’ll never sign off on that by playing nice doggy with him. To do so would prioritize niceness over justice and since when is that a good thing?
I view forgiveness as an option, not a standard that I need to hold myself to. If my ex ever contacts our sons and asks them for forgiveness, I will then consider exercising that option. To do so before it is safe would be putting me and our children in danger of extensive emotional losses.
Some have said to me that I will be unable to “let go and move on” until I forgive my ex. They are wrong. Keeping him at arm’s length, having no relationship with him, is what gives me inner peace and freedom. It has freed me up to move on from the fear of him hurting our sons again.
My response to the hurt and harm he caused has been to not permit him the opportunity to do more hurt and harm. That is a lesson I learned from our sons and how they have chosen to deal with their relationship with their father.
It was a hard lesson to learn. For years I preached forgiveness and compassion. Then one day I realized they had learned something I had never been taught…when someone does you harm, you are better off not giving them the opportunity to do more.