I have been spending a lot of time praying about and working towards learning how to forgive my ex-husband Tab – it is so not something I want to do, but something I am beginning to feel compelled to do it all the same. I thought maybe I could forget about him without forgiving – but his energy presence has remained very strong in our family even though his physical presence is non-existent.
Not forgiving him is keeping me in the role of his victim – when I realized that, the way I looked at everything changed.
For a long time I had to be his victim. Part of this was his doing and part of it was mine. His part was playing the role of narcissist and abuser, mine was different as the victim, but also very damaging. I realized a few years into the abuse that life was better for me and the kids if I was wounded, weak, broken, full of anxiety, – basically damaged and broken. Then he clearly had the power and was a kinder, more gentle version of who he normally was. If I stopped being his victim he took his rage out on S and I couldn’t stand that so I tried to be the weak one as often as possible.
I haven’t seen him in almost 2 years and yet his presence is still strong in our home. It’s there because of the financial dependence and ties, it’s there because of the emotional damage we are still learning to heal from, it’s there because I’m angry as fuck with him (and also scared as fuck if we are being perfectly honest), it’s there because the kids live in fear that one day he will show up, kidnap them, and make good on his old threats to harm or kill them (lovely isn’t it?). I mean, the fears are real – the feelings are real – but they are holding us captive and that can’t happen anymore.
Here’s my issue with forgiveness (well one of them). In the past when I forgave him for raging, cheating, lying, stealing, I had to work at trusting and trying to have a relationship with him and that made my life a very unsafe one. In my brain I know that now I can learn to forgive but that I don’t have to let him back into my world – my heart and my body don’t seem to have that knowledge. So, every time I begin the process of forgiveness my body shuts down in protective mode afraid that he is coming back into our lives to hurt us.
That is not what forgiveness is, and obviously I have a long road ahead of me learning what exactly it is and how to do it. I don’t have a role model for this kind of thing, I don’t particularly want to be the trailblazer – but here I am. If I can learn forgiveness and show the kids how to forgive someone we were supposed to trust – if I can show us all that we can do that and still be safe, that we can be free, that we are no longer the victims – then I will have changed the way we live the rest of our lives.
I’m working on it.