Monday, December 26, 2011

The Journey of Letting Go and Forgiveness (or Not!)

Today marks the one year anniversary of sending my husband to jail for assault.  It has been a day of reflection for me.  I wondered how I would feel when this day came.  I could relive those awful memories of my husband slamming my head into the tile floor in front of our son or of the police handcuffing my husband and putting him in the back of the police SUV.  Or I can focus on the positive changes in my life since that terrible night.

People talk about forgiveness and acceptance.  One thing my journey has taught me is that forgiveness is not a one time deal.  You don't forgive the person that has caused you harm and then life is peachy.  I must continuously forgive.  Forgiveness is an ongoing process.  I have forgiven my husband to a certain extent.  Overall, he is not a monster nor an evil person.  (I do not deny that there are some abusers out there that are indeed monsters and basically deserve the shit beat out of them.) But for whatever reason, my husband is a man who is unable to process his emotions and anger in an healthy way.  He is arrogant, self-centered and extremely selfish.  I have given up trying to understand the reason he is the way he is.  And I have stopped blaming myself.  But I must forgive in order to stay sane.  Until you forgive, that person will always have power over you.  And as a survivor of domestic violence, you certainly do NOT what the abuser to continue having power over you.

So I have forgiven him for what happened that night.  More or less.  There are some days it all comes back and I would love the opportunity to beat the living snot out of him.  There are bad days when I absolutely hate him.  Then there are good days when I can talk to him on the phone about our son, our old neighbors and friends.  But then a couple days later, I am blindsided by something he says that reminds me that he has not learned much since that night.

But I, on the other hand,  have learned much.  And that makes me the more fortunate person.

As Joseph Campbell has said, "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."  Being a victim/survivor of domestic violence was not what I had planned for myself when I graduated college.  And this is where letting go comes into play.  So, I made mistakes.  Had a relationship with someone that did not respect women or me.  Me of all people! I thought of myself as invisible, street savvy, strong, confident.

And I still am.

There is another life waiting for me.  Maybe I was knocked down for a little while, but I've come back even stronger.  I know now how to set boundaries, to understand what I am and am not willing to accept in relationships.  And the beauty of being in my early 40s is that I am not subject to the cultural pressure of finding a man who "will take care of me" and "have children with."  That's all bullshit anyway.  I can begin a relationship with a man on my own terms.  And if he's not up to snuff, I can walk away.

At the end of the day, I still have my warm and peaceful house with my beautiful, sweet son to come home to.  With or without a man.