Survival Tip #7

 

Forgive– stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. From The Oxford American Dictionary

Dayz of Forgiveness

Note: I have touched on this topic in an earlier post, but this goes deeper into this difficult subject.


Water lilies @ Longwood Gardens

Forgiveness doesn’t come easy for me, and I suspect it is not easy for most women married a long time, especially when the husband has been verbally or physically abusive, cruel, and retaliatory. At some point, however, you need to think about forgiveness if your life is to be filled again with love, light, and laughter. Most husbands won’t ask for forgiveness. They may not feel they did anything wrong, and therefore offer no apologies. They are too angry or proud or guilt-ridden. So if you are expecting some miracle to bring him to his knees, forget it!  If you have something to apologize for, don’t be afraid to do so, but not in a way that will compromise what you are legally entitled to. Sometimes an apology will help make the divorce proceedings a little less painful for you, that is, from your viewpoint, since that may make you less retaliatory and vengeful, and help you to think more clearly, since there will be nothing on your conscience.


So many of the trees are bare now, but there is the hope of Spring. Sometimes we need to rest so we can renew our strength, too.

The real miracle is being able to forgive yourself for anything you may have done during the marriage or divorce to create problems for yourself, your children, and your ex. (If your husband was physically abusive, there may be nothing you did that needs apologizing. Perhaps what is needed here is forgiveness for yourself in what you did not or could not do to stop the abuse.) Once you can forgive yourself for anything you may or may not have done, you may find forgiveness for others easier, including your husband’s family, so-called friends, and your ex-husband.


This is the last tree outside our condo with leaves.  Soon they will all be gone.

This is a slow, gradual process, and in my case, an ongoing process. The longer I held onto my old anger, the harder I found it to get on with my life.  This does not mean that subsequent events after the divorce will not make you angry, especially when your ex violates terms of the divorce.  But then the anger can be more in perspective to the rest of your life, rather than taking over your life. As my therapist said, the issues surrounding my divorce became a small, dark cloud over my head, and I filled that imaginary sky with wonderful puffy clouds in a dazzle of blue, so that the tiny gray cloud was barely noticeable.


However, divorce does leave its scars My “civil relationship with my ex-husband is still tainted with bad memories of the latter years of a painful marriage and the five years between separation and sanity. I hear what he says, but since I no longer have to agree with anything he says, I can accept or reject his remarks, without impunity. His lack of integrity during our separation and subsequent divorce puts him in the Do Not Trust category, so I am cautious rather than caustic; sincere, but not sympathetic, and resilient instead of resentful.

Have you ever noticed how some flowers and greens can grow between the cracks and survive? Sometimes, in divorce, we also need to push through the cracks to survive.

The freedom of making my own decisions is coupled with the responsibility of being accountable for my own actions. They work in tandem. However, making mistakes now isn’t so bad.  There’s no judge in the background, except my own conscience. The consequences and benefits of my actions are not linked to another person who belittles my behavior, reduces my rewards, or pricks my prose. My husband was not a brute, but in many ways and like many of us, including myself at times, he gave with one hand while he took with the other.


Hopefully, with forgiveness, you will feel light enough to float like these balloons!

In New Age jargon, I have learned to tap into my “higher power,” that force bigger than me that guides me when I listen to my gut, and not to any guru. Not everyone, thank Goddess, has to go through a divorce to grow up. It is a painful way to accomplish this lifelong task, and yet many women, especially the over 55 generation, seem to be in suspended animation during marriage. Not until we are divorced do we really begin to be the person we might have been sooner, with a different partner or no partner at all. After all, I have learned there are worse things than not being married, like never being able to see a blue sky, or hear the thunder in a storm, or watch your children grow into beautiful adults.


Sometimes water can be cold and unforgiving, but yet there is always some pull that the water has, no matter what the season.

Some people believe we enter these relationships as part of a larger lesson, that these husbands had something to teach us before we can move on. Perhaps, but I am sure there are less painful ways to grow up. But I do know that if they are our teachers for awhile, we need to forgive them for their sometimes cruel lessons along our path to learning who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing, with or without a mate. In the movie Iris, played by the wonderful Dame Judi Dench (older) and Kate Winslet (younger), Iris Murdock always seemed to have a strong self-image and confidence that I wished I had as a young woman.  She has become one of my role models, as have other strong women like Betty Friedan an Bella Abzug.


This deer seemed quite content to much on grass as we traveled through Bryce Canyon National Park. Being alone can sometimes be helpful.

Marriage is not always marvelous. Divorce is often devastating.  Forgiveness is often very finicky. The simple life is not always that simple. What else is new? Love is out there and inside you. Hopefully, not everyone needs to experience divorce to learn to love oneself, but if divorce is your reality, see it as a stepping stone to a life that you can create and re-create again and again.  In the meantime, which is the title of a wonderful book by Ilanya VanSaunt, don’t be afraid to love again.  The heart is flexible. It can break and mend and break and mend. Just give it time!


 

One Response to “Survival Tip #7”

  1. Paula Buchak Says:

    Beautiful thoughts as always!
    Paula

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