Skip to main content

Forgiveness Doesn't Fix It

In 2020, my major crisis wasn’t the virus, the tornado that damaged my kid’s school, or even the suicide bombing that occurred just a few miles from my house. It was the collapse of my marriage. 

Friends have asked me if I thought our relationship would have survived if there wasn’t a pandemic. I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe the rhythm of work, school, and our kid’s extracurricular activities would have swept us along, and we wouldn’t have stared at each other’s faults for days on end.

But our marriage began to dismantle years ago. Like many couples, we went through a trying time where our vows were put to the test. But our young kids’ wellbeing outweighed the grievances, so we toughed it out and stayed together. 

Still, I was hurt. Really hurt. But I had to figure out how to stay in the relationship without being devoured by anger, which was foreign to me. Throughout my life, I’ve always cut the cord — I never stayed friends with ex-lovers. I’ve walked away from lifelong friendships. I have close relatives who’ve been dead to me for over twenty years. 

So that left me grappling with forgiveness. But what is it anyway? The experts say forgiveness is a choice to reject resentment so you can be free of corrosive anger. Forgiveness doesn’t condone the behavior. And it doesn’t mean you forget.

But to practice it in a way that leads to a complete reconciliation between two people is a lot to ask. It’s like — hey, I was unprepared for this, but I’m going to do this deeply personal work so we — and especially I — can have some peace. Seems unfair to lay that burden on the one who was hurt, but there’s no other choice. Not if you want to feel alive. 

Unfortunately, the decision to forgive is not a one and done. Resentment can bubble up when you least expect it — especially when you remain in the relationship. For me, forgiveness felt like climbing a wobbly ladder that occasionally pitched me to the floor. 

Thankfully, the continual choice to seek peace helps to rewrite the internal narrative — I will not be destroyed by this. I will come out stronger, better, wiser. The ache heals, and life goes on.

However, the scar tissue can weaken your tolerance for future struggles. And when life is rearranged by a global crisis, and you're bumping up against each other day in and day out, it’s easy to become exhausted. Eroded. Done. 

This was a dangerous place. I found myself standing in the rubble of my marriage, realizing the pieces weren’t worth picking up anymore. 

And at this point, I really had no choice. I had to forgive myself. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Fallout

The fight against COVID-19 is not like Vietnam. The fatality comparison is a poignant illustration of the magnitude, but the trauma is not the same. Vietnam was man against man. Governments colliding. National division. And sure, there’s division and bureaucratic mishandling of the pandemic, but ultimately our enemy is biological. It’s doesn’t scheme or behave in human ways. It isn’t trying to profit. It needs us alive so it can multiply. We quarantine and self-protect, but there’s no protective gear for our hearts and minds. The virus has replicated in anxiety and fear. So, we surrender and lay low, waiting for the fallout to settle before we emerge from our shelters, weary and disturbed. But some comforts and new rituals will endure. Family walks and dinners. Backyard campfires. Movies we agree on. Being quick to settle grievances. Reading together under a shade tree. The paradigm has shifted, and there’s no going back. I know it. My kids know it, too. They’ve become

The Last Taxi Driver | Lee Durkee

What do the Buddha and Bill Hicks have in common? Ask Lucky Gun Lou, the Mississippi cab driver in Lee Durkee’s dark and hilarious novel The Last Taxi Driver.   Lou suffers psychotic breaks, has spiritual aspirations, and wrestles with bitterness but aims for kindness when dealing with impossible and highly comedic situations. And though he’s often agitated, his innate sweetness shapes a compassionate view of a marginalized and often criminal society and makes him an endearing character.  His opinion of Noir at the Bar should be taken seriously, too. Lou also shares some sage driving advice. Don’t tap your brakes when somebody starts tailgating you. It’s tempting, but it can backfire. Also don’t flip him off, not yet. First try this: pretend to adjust your rearview, so that the asshole knows he has your attention. Then suddenly wave to him and smile as if you are excited to see him. This will make him worry that he knows you, and instantly he will feel like the dick he is and