In the beginning, it was good. All of the earliest memories I have are pretty good. Of course, after 24 years, the good memories are the only ones that have staying power.
I don’t remember the exact time it all went fuzzy and dark and wrong. I don’t think there ever was a specific moment when it all fell apart, but rather a gradual downward spiraling progression into bad.
About four years into it is when the memories start to go bleak. There was crying- lots of crying. And yelling. Much, much yelling. Bouts of rage led to floors of eggshells. I am only now able to walk without tiptoeing.
Through it all, I don’t ever remember asking why. It wasn’t important why, it just was how it was and it was my cross to bear.
The resolution was swift. A thinly-veiled ‘I’m sorry’ and a flimsy promise never to do it again was both given and received with no eye contact. An understanding never to mention any of it ever ever again. Though the issue was over, the emotion was still very raw.
I also don’t remember cognitively making the choice to forgive. It too was a gradual progression. Slowly and surely I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t go on being angry about it any more.
That conclusion was only the beginning of forgiveness. If nothing else I’ve come to learn that forgiveness is not an act or a decision, but instead a progression, a direction, and, if we’re really, really lucky, a conclusion.
After I quit being angry about it, I began to be able to see clearly. I realized he wasn’t going to ever ask me for forgiveness, because he didn’t realize he had done anything to warrant asking for forgiveness. That was something else I’d have to come to grips with…I’d have to give something I wasn’t being asked for.
Yes, there are moments when something happens and a harsh word is said and for a brief moment I think we’re going backwards. But I just breathe and look again for the forward progression, and it gets going in the right direction again.
I know it’s never going to be perfect, and it’s not even really going to be like it once was. But that’s the essence of forgiveness. And that’s where the freedom begins.