Originally written on March 10, 2013
Remember answer D? It was, “All of the above.” Sometimes it was answer C, if the test was an easy one, but usually D…And who can forget the scapegoated nature of answer E? NONE of the above. Who designed E? One question with four answers and yet, none of them are the RIGHT answer? Defeatist.
Lately I live a life of answer D- All of the above.
Today my first ex husband got married.
I never celebrated our divorce. I just want to be clear on that. There are people out there who use the words celebrate and divorce in the same sentence and as a reason to go out and actually celebrate. I am not one of them. In my most unconscious existence I knew it wasn’t anything to celebrate. I don’t know…but I’m pretty sure that viewing it as a viable option to obliterate a mistake wasn’t any better. I wasn’t happy about it though. If you knew me back then and anything about human nature, minus awareness, you’d know by my actions that I was actually quite miserable. Standing on a bridge, above train tracks, admit myself to the hospital, self destructive, miserable. I didn’t want to be married, but I did not want to be divorced and I loved him the best I could, which wasn’t very good. It was actually downright horrible. We do the best we can in any given moment and my best was one step above…hell. I was in hell and I took them with me. Are there two sides to my story? Of course there is, but I’m only responsible for my half and I can’t assume his. The point is that I am willing to accept and forgive the past….I just haven’t done it yet. And now, I think I know why.
I had a little realization the other day while driving and pondering forgiveness. I spend a lot of time thinking about who I need to forgive and how unforgiving I actually am. They say that you know you’ve forgiven someone when you no longer have an emotional reaction to that person…If that’s true, and it probably is, then I’ve a long way to go with quite a few people, but none more than myself. Here’s my thought on that; forgiveness is like love. You can’t forgive someone else if you can’t forgive yourself first. Just as cliché and just as true. It dawned on me that I had asked, more than once, for my ex husbands forgiveness, and relived my sins over and over again, but not once had I ever forgiven him because I couldn’t forgive myself. I realized that I hadn’t even forgiven the event known as my first marriage. I was holding onto it all.
Looking back I see the hope of what lies ahead and when I can’t see that, I delight in what I see within. Me
I tend to hoard writing. And books. And words. Sometimes I sift through things, notes, journals unfinished, books half read, highlighted sections and recorded memos in my own voice. Sometimes I will tear every page out of a journal and burn it, letting the ashes blow away and rising up from them. Sometimes I tuck things back neatly and save them for another day. Sometimes I read things and wonder why in the hell I was saving THAT? I look back.
I remember this day. How confused and conflicted I was. How afraid and ashamed I was. Knee deep in my continuing and self inflicted struggles, I wondered, would I have been better off in that marriage? Couldn’t I have made it work? We do this to ourselves. We question the things we’ve done as if we could have somehow undone them…or worse, that they can still be undone. It’s torturous really and there’s no purpose in that kind of looking back- the kind that HOLDS you back. No point. We did the best we could- and now we do better. At least a little better. Ok, some days, at least we try.
The thing is, I couldn’t have made it work and neither could he. We are all better off for it, even if on that day in March, I couldn’t see it- but it’s true. The Pretty Princess is proof of that. When guilt wrestles me to the ground and pins me down there with my internal fear of somehow screwing up my second daughter, my precious Boo, by divorcing her father, I realize that the divorce was not the problem. My inability to be a mother- that was my problem. I look back over that time and I see how bad at it I really was. How much better I was at it than my own mother, but yet, how I could’ve done better…oh could’ve. If only you really existed. The truth is, I did the best I could and now, NOW I do MUCH, MUCH better. Does much better erase the not so good? No. It makes the possibility of healing not so good so that the best can emerge. My Boo always had a good mother, I just had to realize that first. I think that in the end, the space between Boo and I will- acutally, it IS healing. I think that in looking back I can see what has always lay between her and I- love. In looking back over the mother I wasn’t, I can see clearly, the mother that lies within…and I hope that she sees that too.
I can’t tell you the aha moment when suddenly I was “over” my first marriage and the fact that both of my ex husbands have seemingly moved on to more “normal” lives than I. The moment I realized that my envy for what they had, was really nothing more than my own shame for what I thought I lacked and in what I had unwittingly refused to create, in my own life. There was no aha moment. Some times, life is like that. No aha moments. Just getting up and moving, fighting, screaming, crying, dismantling, judging, going green with envy, and dragging ourselves through all of those feelings and emotions, until they go from could’ve been to no more. Just gone. Just one day, you say the name of the person you need to forgive and there is no emotion attached to them or to you and what you could’ve done. You look back and you see nothing more than what you’re doing now and that carries you through.