A year in people #99 – my ex-husband

I forgive you.

The words were loud and clear in my head, and it caught me by surprise. Almost involuntary, it felt like they had come out of nowhere. But the words were unmistakable.

I forgive you.

I was sat on a stool, leant back against the cool side of the building looking out into the forest, steam rising from the cup of masala chai in my hand.

The only sounds were wind whistling through the trees and monkeys calling to each other in the distance, everything else was inside my head.

I was on a 10 day silent Buddhist retreat in northern India and had plenty of time to think. Six hours of focused meditation a day, as well all the other time with no distractions, meant I’d spent more time in my head than ever before.

We had 13 years of highs and lows. Of love, family and laughter. Yet also hurt, anguish and betrayal.

We both had our part to play. I carried no guilt, because I realised I’d already forgiven myself. But I had to forgive him, forgive his behaviour, for surely it would only eat me up inside if not. I’d only carry it with me into new relationships and into my new life, and I was determined not to let that happen. He’d already had so much of my life, he wasn’t having any more.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, or allowing someone to walk all over you, have the upper hand or any of those competitive notions we have inside us. The forgiveness was for me, not him.

Forgiveness means having compassion and allowing yourself to move on. You can have boundaries and standards and still forgive. Holding onto resentment and anger only hurts you, not them. It’s like a slow poison, insidiously seeping into every part of you until it consumes you with bitterness.

Forgiveness helped me separate the person with the behaviour. I knew inherently my ex husband wasn’t a bad man, but his behaviour was abhorrent at times. It came from a place of fear and insecurity, and I was the nearest outlet, because I was the unconditional love that was always there.

I tried to help, but only a person themselves can do something about their own insecurities and fears. In the end, all I could do is create my own boundaries about what I was willing to accept. Which, in the end, meant leaving.

I loved him once. Leaving came from that love. I wanted, more than anything in the world, for him to be happy.

I forgive you.

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