I can’t be sure what made it happen. No single thing in my life right now really stands out as being a huge obvious catalyst to what happened to me today.
Maybe it started when I read Kim’s post about overcoming resentment. Maybe it’s all the Imogen Heap I’ve been listening to. Maybe my kids’ starting school triggered some thought. Maybe my failure at any form of dating is the cause. Perhaps all my recent social interactions from Twitter and Facebook have caused me to reevaluate things. Perhaps meeting truly happy people has been helpful. I have no idea. Maybe it’s a little bit of everything.
Three years ago, my wife started cheating on me. For the next two and half years she lied and continued to cheat on me, and continued to see the same guy, culminating in our bitter divorce in January of 2008. She immediately moved in with her boyfriend – everything was so abrupt that it felt like having my heart ripped out of my chest. Things were made worse by his attempts at ingratiating himself into my kids’ lives by buying them all kinds of toys and things.
Since October of 2005 (when I caught her cheating), I have been a completely different person. I’ve gained weight, I’ve changed careers twice, I’ve become horribly depressed, angry, bitter, and full of spite. I’ve had many terrible thoughts about her boyfriend, I’ve contemplated murder, suicide, and everything in between. I also stopped visiting my own website
Time heals all wounds, they say. Since January, things have been getting better and I’ve become much more social, making new friends, re-establishing relationships with long lost ones, evaluating myself as a person, looking at my life, starting the career of my dreams, and slowly but surely making a conscious effort at returning to the optimistic, I-can-take-over-the-world go-getter that I used to be.
Still, though, I realized that deep down inside was the black stone of hatred, bitterness, and anger. I haven’t had very many friendly communications with my ex-wife in the last two years. Since the actual divorce, every single communication with her has had me being curt, rude, uptight, and angry. I often said that every time I spoke with her it ruined my entire day. This was a woman that I loved with my heart and soul, with every fiber of my being, and I realized that I had begun to actually hate her.
The kids started school last week. They still needed a few school supplies. I am very broke right now, since I’m starting a business, and she knew that there was no way I’d be able to help pay for the school supplies they needed. She has had major car trouble lately, so she called me tonight and asked if I could and get the last few things our son needed for his class. It was really nothing big – a few folders and a notebook. Minor things that wouldn’t cost much. I really had no choice, so I agreed, and we packed up in the pouring rain and the boys and I drove to the local office supply store.
We went in, got what we needed, and left. When we got back into the car, soaking wet, I called my ex.
Me: “I just wanted to let you know I got the rest of Perry’s school supplies.”
Her: “Alright. Thank you.”
Actually maybe that was it. She thanked me. I said to her, one of the first nice things I’ve said in over two years: “No problem. Thank you for buying the rest of it.”
We hung up.
I put the car back in park. It was as if I had been struck by a bolt of lightning. I could barely breathe. Suddenly I was gasping and sobbing almost as hard as I used to when I first discovered her infidelity. I couldn’t understand it. I haven’t cried about her in months.
I tried hard to hide it from my sons in the back seat, but kids are geniuses and empaths. There is no way to hide things like this from them. They both immediately unbuckled their seat belts and rushed forward to hug me from behind. Perry said “Dad, I love you.” and Kyle said “Are you okay?”
I was. I was okay. I forgave her. I’m done hating her. I don’t hate her anymore. I’m okay.
I don’t really know where to go from this point, but I think I’m going to tell her that I forgive her. I suppose it best for everyone involved (most importantly, our kids) if we try to be friends. Maybe it would be better for me to skip telling her anything and just interact with her in a civil and friendly manner from now on. I’m not decided yet.
To those of us who harbor resentment in our hearts, just know that I understand what you’re going through, and I know it’s not easy. But there is a way out. I wish I could tell everybody how to find it, but the simple truth is I don’t even know what led to this point. I can’t tell you how to find it, because I’m sure it’s completely different for each of us, but sometimes knowing there is a way out is all you need.