Ten years is too long to be mad

Paula - 48458, Michigan
Entered on June 2, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: forgiveness

Ten years is too long to spend being mad at someone. Even if you have a good reason. Which begins the story of how I forgave my ex-husband yesterday.

One night last summer, I was awakened by my son to find that his step-sister, Ashleigh, who had been staying with us, had been beaten up and was suffering obvious concussion symptoms.

I couldn’t reach her mom, and even though I knew I couldn’t sign for her care, I knew she had to go to ER. Luckily Drew got his dad on the phone, and Steve got on the road from Lansing to meet us at Hurley Medical Center.

I stayed with Ashleigh until Steve got there, and as soon as he arrived I could immediately sense his deep concern for her welfare, this girl two years younger than our eldest, who he had adopted from the woman he left me for.

He had the emergency in hand so I went home to relieve the teenagers I had left with my sleeping 10 year old. I had gotten about 40 winks when they got home. While scrambling up a couple dozen eggs for the horde of teenagers in my house, I thought about how, the man I had married all those many years ago, was still good at what I fell in love with him for—being there for someone when they really needed him.

Despite the missed child support payments, arguments over parenting time, and the broken heart, I knew I had to forgive him, because of who he was and not what he had done.

Forgiveness is good for the forgiver because forgiving others means forgiving ourselves—at our worst. The person I forgave was me—selfish, lustful, proud, ungrateful, conceited and pleasure loving.

Humans, being innately selfish, don’t forgive easily. But I believe the world is too full of people who don’t care for one another. And if I can make a dent in that by learning forgiveness, that is icing on the cake. It took me too long to forgive. I thought I had forgiven him, I knew intellectually I wanted to forgive him, but I recognized I had never gotten past the hurt.

Since forgiving Steve, I think I can forgive anybody anything—well excepting maybe drunk driver’s and child abusers. Because in so doing, that means I myself am forgiven. As someone born on this planet, I need that as much as any of us.