Forgiveness, it’s something people talk a lot about, but I don’t think most people understand. Most people think of forgiveness in terms of the old adage “forgive and forget” but that implies that forgiveness is about the other person. It implies that you’re letting someone off the hook for their bad behavior or for hurting you, but that’s not the way that I see forgiveness.
To me forgiveness is letting go.. not for them, but for you. I recently had an ex contact me. We’ve all had this ex.. in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if we all had this exact same ex, he did tend to get around.. I digress. This ex put me through the ringer. He was a huge cheat, great at gaslighting and making himself appear the victim while trying to make you feel like he wouldn’t have to cheat, or blow you off, or whatever damaging thing he did, if you didn’t_____ fill in with what ever you feel is your biggest flaw is.
For years this man plagued every relationship that I was in. He would contact me in an effort to get back together swearing that he changed. He never did. I got to the point that I ran so hard and fast away from him that I married the next man to come along.. not because I loved him, but because I never wanted to feel love again. He still played with me and I ended up ending my marriage. I put on 10s of pounds with my self esteem crashing into the abyss. He was both the man of my dreams and the reason why I could never trust another man as long as I lived. He was a huge scar that didn’t seem like it could ever heal.
After dealing with his crap for almost a decade I finally walked away. I was with, who I thought, was a great guy. I ended up having the most amazing little boy in the world. I had huge REAL tragedies and wonderful adventures, all without him. I went through the hardest year of my life, and even though I had the urge to call him so he could “make me feel better”, the more that I thought about him, the more I realized he just caused me pain.
That led to the opposite affect. Instead of wanting to call him I started to get angry at him. Blaming him for wasting so many of my years. Years that I could have met someone else. Years that I could have started a family earlier and given my father and son a chance to actually know each other. This created a fierce bitterness in me, and it started to bleed into other things that I did. I had real trouble creating any form of relationship. I had trouble trusting men at all, but I knew that I didn’t want to live like that.
I have spent the last 3 years working on every aspect of my life. I have concentrated on being the best mother that I can be. I have focused on becoming healthy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I have created a life and a person that I really enjoy, but there was always something nagging at me. A song would come on the radio, or someone who make a face or use a phrase that I would say and that pain would strike like a hot dagger and I my blood would begin to boil. I hated him, and I started to question why. Why did I give this man that I knew in my 20s so much power over who I have become in my 40s. It has now been almost a decade since I have seen him and I still feeling trapped by him. Trapped by the feelings of wanting him and hating him.
He has followed me on many social media platforms over the years and came up on my Linkedin a couple months ago. In my haste to delete the suggestion I accidentally went into his profile.. that of course got me thinking about him and all of the damage that I needed to let go of. I ended up looking back at his profile one night… debating on whether or not to break down and just contact him when a contact request came in. I just went for it. I accepted the request and within 5 seconds there was a message from him.
It was all very pleasant. We caught up. He asked about my son whom he had seen on one of the social media platforms. He asked about his father and told me he was sorry to hear about mine passing. We talked about the basic stuff that anyone catching up would talk about. Then he asked me why I accepted his request after all of this time, and the truth is that I needed to. I needed to forgive him not for his sake but for my own. I needed to forgive myself for all the time I wasted being angry. I needed to talk to him again to see that he wasn’t the devil, but just some guy with just as much damage and confusion in his life as we all have. I had to take my power back.
And you know what? It felt really good. I may never talk to him again, or we could become those people that check in every once in a while just because, or he could even become my next best friend.. anything is possible. But the one thing he won’t be is a drain, because I deserve better than that.