The Feeling of Forgiveness

We worked on our therapy sessions and worked on our relationship. But none of it was really wasn’t working for me.

Too many times, in between the counseling sessions, I would find myself sitting on the sofa and the tears would just begin rolling down my cheeks. I felt so broken and unworthy. I sat there in bewilderment wondering how two of the most important people in my life be so devious behind my back. The betrayal ran so deep that sometimes, it literally took my breath away.

During that time I tried to stay very far away from my sister. My first interaction was about 2 months after the dust settled and my husband came back home. We were at a gym and we started to bicker about something petty and stupid. I took a step toward her and I remember how I just wanted to shove her so hard that she would fall into the pool. It took all of my might to refrain from touching her.

I vowed that evening that I would stay very far from her. I could not handle my grief and anger at the same time. I was too damaged and weak to spread myself. I knew that I needed to focus on healing myself first. I needed to gather my strength before I could face her and deal with all of her drama.

As it was, my life was spiraling into too many directions at once. It was now January and my children were beginning their academic careers back in September and as a first time mom, it was an overwhelming experience. Professionally, I was wooed into a new career, which meant returning to full-time office hours that January, and I would be turning 40 in a few months…and my life was crumbling.

I had too much to focus on. I had to take each day and focus on it on an hourly basis. Once I was back at work, I was actually happy to be back in the 9-5 grind. I was focused on a new career path and that left me little time to feel sorry for myself. I saved that task for the wee hours of the night/morning or during my commute in to and out of the city.

I began interrupting my tear filled commute with audio books I had borrowed from the library. Initially, I started with the best sellers I that had been wanting to read, but never had the time for. My first two listens were Dear John, by Nicholas Sparks and The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown. I dabbled with more Sparks and moved on to Koontz, and then whatever else was available from the conservative inventory at my library.

A friend had suggested, The Shack by William P. Young. This audio book started me on a quest for inner peace. I know, it sounds so cliché, but it really was a turning point for me. For me, The Shack opened a crack in my heart to consider forgiveness. I needed to define forgiveness and see how it fit into my situation.

From The Shack, I began searching for more audio books on forgiveness and spirituality. None of it made me feel any better at that time. But I started downloading apps onto my phone about mediation and relaxation and anti-anxiety techniques.

The more I downloaded and listened, the more anxious I was becoming. I noticed that I was more short-tempered and angrier at my situation than ever before. I was angry at him for doing this to me. I was angry with her for keeping it from me. I was angry with myself for not listening to my heart when I should have. I knew all along that something had happened between them. I knew it and did nothing about it.

After another long, sleepless night, I wandered into the backyard during the early pre-dawn hours. I watched the sunrise and the listened to the birds waking up. I felt anxious and knotted. Later in the day, I decided to take a long hot shower. Fresh from my shower I flung myself on my bed and closed my eyes. I wanted the anger and rage in my heart to be gone. I begged for peace. After several more tearful minutes, I closed my eyes and felt a calm come over me.

A great calm claimed me and I was able to breathe without the heaviness I was feeling in my chest. My muscles didn’t feel achy and knotted anymore. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I actually felt relaxed and I think I drifted to sleep. I felt a lightness that I hadn’t felt in a really long time. When I arose, I felt refreshed.

Later that night, as we lay in bed, I still felt light and refreshed. My husband reached over and kissed my forehead and whispered that he loved me. I heard myself say, “I forgive you.” He couldn’t believe his ears. He had tears in his eyes, hugged me and whispered an emotional “Thank You”. I felt a huge weight lifted from my chest. I felt myself breathe again. As I drifted to sleep, I remember thinking to myself that this is what true forgiveness feels like.

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Rebuilding

December will make a year when the ground on which I stand was ripped out from under me. Much has not changed. But I have changed.

We went through a brief separation. He was home rather quickly. After I was able to breathe on my own again, I began to think. The children missed him terribly, he missed them and he was miserable. All of this pain wasn’t doing any one of us any good. I invited him back on my terms. We went through the awkwardness of being around each other again. I could not stand his touch. And he knew not to press me. I rationalized that I would not subject my children to months of anguish over missing their father. At some point we would want to try to make a go of things and try to get along if not for ourselves, then for ‘the sake of our children.’ It seemed pretty selfish of me and unfair to them to drag them through my conflicting emotions about their father. They didn’t need to ride my rollercoaster. I needed to be the adult and sort out my feelings – and not at their expense. But it hasn’t been easy.

From the second he stepped foot back into the door, he was a changed man. He has not made me any promises. He has not promised to change. He has not promised to change the way he treats me.

He has shown me what love means to him. He has been tender in ways that I have not seen him be before. He has been supportive and taken a huge role in caring for his family. His actions are speaking volumes.

We went through several agonizing months of therapy to talk about our situation. We spoke about how we got to the place where we were and we realized that we did not want to be there. My parents we so incredibly supportive and encouraging. They reminded me of the heartaches I saw them endure in their early relationship and how their bond helped them get through situations worse than mine.

About 8 months after he came home, I was finally able to utter the words “I forgive you” to him. It was a huge burden lifted from my soul when I said those words. He was so relieved to hear those words come from my lips. This is the start of putting this behind us as much as I can.

But, now I am much more guarded with my feelings. And with whom I consider laying my trust. He is the only man who I have ever truly loved. He is the only man who ever made me feel truly loved. I gave him my heart and he smashed it to itty bitty pieces. Because of this,I feel that I cannot wholly surrender myself to him again. And, I have my doubts. I have a small nagging feeling that there this is something else that he is not telling me. But I will be patient. All will be revealed when the time is right.

I am not saying that I am forgetting. There are times when he touches me a certain way that I recoil from his touch. But he understands that while I have forgiven him, I am hurt too deep for things to just go back to normal.

I still have not confronted my sister. I know that some day I will need to get closure. But right now, I am not ready to hear whatever she has to say.

For now, I will continue to glue the pieces of my life together. Some pieces are missing – forever lost. Some have been replaced. And some pieces are stained. However, I am sure that I will make the best of what I have to work with and redefine who I am.