I’ve Buried the Hatchet, but I’ve Marked its Location

Making a hatchet sheath, step 2: flip the hatc...

Forgiveness is such a loaded word.

It requires an acceptance of someone’s actions.  Actions that may be horrific, born from unknown motivations.

Forgiveness was on my mind soon after I received the text that ended my marriage.  According to the platitudes I had always heard, I needed to forgive him.  It was the right thing to do.

It was an unfathomable thing to do.  I viewed forgiveness as a selfless act, and I had a self that was way too hurt to pardon its executioner.  I couldn’t begin to even understand what he did, much less WHY he did.  And, now, I was supposed to exonerate him for those same things?  It just seemed like one more way that he would be getting away with his choices and actions.  I refused to endorse his behavior with my stamp of approval.

Time passed.  He remained unforgiven.  I thought I could attend to my anger without addressing that little matter of absolution.  I was wrong.  I held on to an ember of hate, fueled by my refusal to accept his choices.

I grew to see forgiveness in a different light.  It was actually a selfish act for me.  After all, I do not expect to ever have any contact with him again.  He will never know if I am his pardoner or if I hunt for vengeance.  I forgave him for me.  It helped to extinguish the fire of anger.  It brought peace to my days and kept him out of my dreams at night.

In order to find forgiveness, I had to shift my view of him.  I had to see him as sick, confused, desperate.  I do not know how true any or all of those labels are, but they are true to me, as they helped me to feel compassion for him.  They let me accept that my greatest love sought to destroy me, regardless of intent.  I cling to those labels when I feel the anger spark.  I cover the ember with thoughts of mental illness and a frantic push to survive. I chose to see him as weak and frightened, acting in his own twisted version of self defense, rather than as some evil puppetmaster, cruelly controlling my life.

I do not endorse his choices.  Regardless of his mental state, he lied and manipulated for years, he committed bigamy and fraud, and he ran and hid like a frightened coward.  I still believe that he belongs in prison for his actions.  I still would feel no sadness if I heard of his demise.  I have simply found a way let go in my mind so that I could find peace.

I have forgiven him, but I will never forget the pain.  I’ve buried the hatchet, but I’ve marked its location.

Thank you for sharing!

7 thoughts on “I’ve Buried the Hatchet, but I’ve Marked its Location

  1. akarmin – Aaron Karmin is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, who holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology as well as an advanced certification in stress management. He has been offering marital, group, and individual therapy to adults and adolescents for 10 years. He has experience serving a diverse spectrum of clients with a wide array of concerns. Aaron's solution focused techniques promote frustration tolerance, positive relationships, and a healthy lifestyle. Aaron collaborates with his clients to enhance personal growth by acknowledging individual choices to encourage happiness and success. He creates a warm therapeutic environment that fosters acceptance, empowerment, and healing.
    akarmin says:

    There is a difference between pleading guilty as if you were the problem and expressing regret that a negative thing happened.

    Forgiveness is not approval, it is the ability to let go of your feelings so you can move on with your life.

    So remember that if anyone has ever hurt you, you don’t find forgiveness, you give it, not for them, but for yourself.

  2. I don’t know about this. Yes, I would like to move on, but the anger and destruction his actions caused have so long kept a dark cloud over me, the princess that fell far from her tower, that was me, and after so long of a marriage, I truly do not know how to get up and brush myself off and start a new. I still after all this time just….lost.

    1. It is not easy. It is less a “brushing off” and more a determined struggle to extricate oneself from the past and finding an acceptance of what happened. Think of how Pixar would write the rest of the movie featuring your fallen princess. I bet she would learn to find her way.

  3. I stumbled upon your blog & just spent the last hour reading your entries. Just another sob story, I was married 7.5 years, 3 kids, graduate degree…he,was a ” stay @ home dad” (euphemism for couldn’t keep a job) but nonetheless he decided we needed to “separate”. Yes the rug was pulled out from under me but not in such severe & dramatic manner as what I gave just read. Thank you for sharing your story. I guess it took the similarities in someone else’s sorrow to make me realize the end of my marriage is not the end of me.

    1. The end of a marriage is the end of a chapter, not the end of a book. Think about how you want the rest of your story to infold and then work to make it happen. I wish you well on your journey.

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