I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately.
As you may or may not know, I’ve been looking for ways to heal past memories and ultimately forgive my mother. However the process is made more difficult because she has refused over and over again throughout the years to admit that there was anything unhealthy about our relationship.
I’ve heard different excuses which have softened throughout the years from, “You are such a self-righteous bitch” to “No one ever apologized to me, so I won’t do that for you…. get over it.” But that makes it hard to say, “Mom- I forgive you.” Without an acknowledgement or an apology it seems very ego driven to dole out forgiveness where none was asked for…
So, I am thinking about how to do a sort of ancestral healing through energy.
And today, I began searching my memories to get in touch with what forgiveness feels like. I asked myself if I had ever experienced that phenomenon before.
In fact, yes I have.
My memories drifted to my ex-husband just a few months before we were separated, while we were deeply in the planning stages of divorce (We lived together for 5 months after deciding to part ways).
As you can imagine, being together for that long as we planned to separate was an intense, often difficult (for a myriad of reasons), yet beautiful and intensely rewarding experience.
However, I could see that was taking a toll on him. And as I ventured out to make “outside” friends (who didn’t know “us” as a whole entity) whom I could laugh and let loose with, I saw how my ex-husband was suffering in his own hell. So, I invited him out with us one night to hear my new musician friends play a show.
It was a blast.
Until, my ex- husband started talking about something which had caused several arguments throughout our marriage.
To give a quick back story, when we were dating and living in Korea he bought a guitar. Now, I don’t know anything about guitars but I know when other people saw it and knew something about the instrument, they would drop their jaws in awe and delight of this priceless and amazing musical gift. Apparently it was worth a lot of money and capable of great things. It was his personal possession (for which I never had any ill will and was always happy for him to be so excited about).
However, he decided to sell it one day and when I found out I was shocked and asked him why and he said, “Because, we need money… so I sacrificed.” Anyway, this post is not about that but it still befuddles me how a very young married couple with a good amount of money in both spending and savings accounts which continued to grow needed him to sell his possession for much less than half what it was worth.
So, as we stood with my new musician friends, my ex-husband told tales of the guitar and they asked where it was and my ex- husband said, “Well, I got married and I had to sell it…. you know how that goes…” As they looked at me like the ol’ ball and chain. I began to defend my position, “I never…” His next words were, “It’s water under the bridge now.. I did what I had to back then.”
Little did I know that the whole time I was hanging out with people, my ex husband was nowhere to be found and about 24 hours later I learned that he had taken several shots behind the bar with a new friend. He was intoxicated and I was completely unaware of the fact.
Anyway, as we walked to our car, I made my point while we were alone. I said, “It doesn’t make sense that you sold your guitar, up until recently, we always had enough money to spend and to save…and I don’t appreciate you saying in front of my friends that you sold it because you got married and you had to. Neither myself nor our financial situation ever asked you to do such a thing.” His frustrated response was, “I had to sell it. I got married.”
Our discussion escalated into an argument and before I knew it we were driving through downtown Austin at about 60 miles an hour. I was now starting to question if he was drunk. But I dismissed it because as far as I knew and saw we both only had 1 beer.
I began to grow quiet and decided to just bide my time until we got home and then just go to sleep in the living room. However, he began driving quite poorly which was very out of character for him. So, I quietly and consciously non-condescendingly said, “How much did you have to drink?”
Apparently, the sound of my voice was a strong irritant for him at this point. He slammed on the brakes on the side of the highway and screamed at me to get out. I began to protest since it was a cold Austin night with freezing temperatures and ice on the roads. However, I looked at him and all I saw was pure rage in his eyes. I quietly got out and decided I was close enough to my favorite burger joint- so I would walk there, grab a bite to eat, wait awhile for my ex-husband to cool off and then call a cab.
However, he came back about 15 minutes later as I was walking along the same stretch of highway. “Get back in the car,” he demanded.
I did. Which I really shouldn’t have. I should have declined and gone to the burger joint and let things simmer down over time.
At this point I was certain he was drunk but didn’t realize how much until the next day. Since I grew up around alcoholics and knew how volatile drunk people could be, and since we were living in a very tense and stressful situation ourselves and mostly because I knew my ex husband had great difficulty expressing himself and was dealing with about 6 years worth of our own tumultuous issues which he never talked about or dealt with, that he was pretty much a ticking time bomb that night.
So, I quietly said “When we get home I’m just going to go into our room and grab some blankets and then I’m going to sleep in the living room… okay?”
He fired off some expletives and I decided no talking whatsoever was probably the best route to go.
When we got home, I hurried into the bedroom and grabbed a blanket, where he met me at our door. I tried to walk past him and he blocked me.
“Uh-oh” I thought. I mean, the look in his eyes was not him. I could almost see all of the quiet resentment he had been holding onto, refusing to release for so long bubbling to the surface. He is a naturally docile person, so to see this rage ooze off of someone who didn’t even know how to express normal anger in a sober state was a little on the horrifying side.
He yelled something and I said, “I left you the warmer blanket…. I’m just going to sleep in the living room.” He refused to let me out. I panicked. “I can sleep in here, if you would rather sleep in the living room.” ”YOU are not going to kick me out of MY room,” he yelled as he got in my face.
Next thing I know he (who stands at about 6’2″) picked me up and threw me into our bathroom across the hall. My head bounced off of the bathtub. I was shocked and luckily conscious and able to move. I went out to the living room as he came at me again.
The only thing I could do was cry and plea for him to stop…. “Please don’t,” I said. As he prepared himself to make another attack, the only thing that stopped him was our cat. Dizzle wrapped his body around my legs and meowed the loudest/deepest meow I ever heard.
My ex-husband looked at the cat who he had no beef with, then looked at me and wiped drool which was beginning to fall from his lips. He shot daggers of hate toward me from his eyes and stumbled to our bedroom where he passed out.
Dizzle slept cuddled tightly to my chest that night.
The next morning, I stood cooking the one egg we had in the house as food. I felt like I might pass out from the adrenaline of stress and needing calories to burn (During that time in my life, my stress levels were so high that I was quite thin and even a size 00 fell off of me).
My ex-husband came out to the kitchen looking very sick and tired. He leaned on the table because I think he was still drunk and dizzy. He tried to look at me, but his gaze quickly dropped to the ground when my eyes met his. Struggling to look me in the eyes he said in an almost whisper, “I don’t even know how to begin to apologize for last night.”
I felt flustered with tears, but only one single drop fell from my eye. I walked up to him and gave him a hug. ”It’s almost over… I know this is a stressful situation.” A few tears fell from his eyes and he told me he didn’t deserve the hug or reassurance. I said, ”It’s not okay, but I do forgive you.” I honestly meant those words. I knew in the very depths of my heart that he was not a violent person. I knew how stressed he was and I knew how much difficulty he always had talking about anything uncomfortable. I knew without any doubt that he was doing the best he could and without any inhibitions, I released any pain associated with the night before. I wanted nothing more than for him to know that I saw him… the beauty of his human experience and had nothing but love and empathy for what he was experiencing.
He reluctantly accepted my words and hugged me back.
We separated a month or two later and he met his current wife a few weeks after that. Our peaceful attempt at a divorce went quickly downhill from there. Misunderstandings swirled like a very angry tornado which violently cast me out onto the sidelines as the wicked villan.
Through that, I lost the only family I had and some other material possessions.. It was something that always pained my heart terribly..
And just last year, I met with both of them and they both apologized for their past actions and gave me the gift of seeing me just as I am. It was so beautiful. We all hugged. I forgave them. And the past truly became the past.
So, I do know what forgiveness feels like. It is a wonderful thing that sets one free… and it’s not hard. I have experienced that it releases even more endorphins than a good work out and leaves a perma grin on my heart…
As I’ve said, my mother sees no reason to own up to anything. And often, discussing anything usually leads to more verbal abuse.
I guess what I need to do is see her… really see her in the beauty of her own human experience and release that pain as it transforms into something beautiful. After all, as I understand it the very essence of forgiveness is giving others the dignity of being human, having their experiences and seeing them as they really are which at the very core is love- no matter who you are.