I’m hard on myself. I’m sure if I visited a therapist, they would say even to an extreme. My sweet husband witnessed the degree of my self-loathing when I became a mom. Brynn, our daughter, was colicky on top of having medical issues, so she essentially cried most days and nights. My emotions overruled any logic and I was certain I was the reason for her tears.
I lacked what it took to be a mom.
I was a failure.
Mark never saw this side of me, at least to this level. I’m not sure I really experienced the extremity of this behavior either. It forced me to face the reason behind such irrational thinking.
I blame myself for allowing another person’s actions affect me for so long. His deeds had an underlying hold on me until the stresses of mothering a special needs child caused them to come to a head.
One result of years of emotional abuse is finding it difficult to notice things I like or appreciate about myself. BUT, in the last few years, I discovered I’m rather successful in the ability to forgive…except for him.
How could I? He didn’t deserve my forgiveness. He controlled, abused, and berated my mother and I for years. Growing up in my world, I thought it was normal for a husband to call his wife a bitch. Or, tell a child she half-assed everything she did. Frankly, these are the tamest of his offenses.
As I entered my teenage years and spent as much time away from home as possible, I discovered his behavior was not the norm. I’m sure my friend’s father’s have no idea the impact they had on my life, as I watched them show kindness and love to their families. I truly believe this realization, helped change the course of my life. I received SO much adoration from my mom, but unfortunately, her husband’s negativity seemed to override it all.
For years, I believed he was the cause of her cancer returning. He was ruthless towards her. He pressured her for sex. He made countless demands as he always had. He questioned when she would start working again. We thought maybe, just maybe, he would have an ounce of compassion for her while she recovered from her initial tumor removal.
Once an asshole, ALWAYS an asshole.
Of course, now, as a rational adult, I realize we could never prove such an accusation, but science has proven stress does not make for a speedy recovery.
After his last outburst of domestic violence, we fled to our neighbors, called our family, and with help from friends and family, we packed up our stuff the next day.
At the time, it was the best, most empowering day of my life.
Truthfully, forgiving him wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t think about him often, but when I did, I would be filled with rage and pain. It was infuriating I let him influence my mood after almost two decades.
I’ve sat through countless religion classes where forgiveness was the topic of discussion, but none of them affected me like the one I sat in last year. Maybe it was because I was surrounded by classmates, I had grown close to spiritually, and/or maybe it was time for me to forgive him.
I was overcome with emotion as my friends discussed their experiences with forgiving others or being forgiven themselves. Earlier during the week, I received a box from my grandma. It had a binder titled Cathy 1961-1999. Cathy is my mom. It was filled with things from my mom’s life. Most importantly, especially at the time, it included a copy of a letter my mom had sent to her husband.
She poured her heart and soul out to him. She explained why she left him and did not mince words. I was so proud of her. Peace swept over me and I was compelled to write him also.
Honestly, I never sent him my letter. Maybe I should, but I didn’t write it for him, I wrote it for me. It permitted me to vent and let go. It cured me from letting this man’s actions have a hold of me. It allowed me to forgive.
Here’s what I wrote:
I’m sure this letter may come as a surprise. It surprised me when I felt the need to reach out to you.
I will admit I have spent far too long feeling resentful and bitter towards you. It hasn’t been to the extent I allow those feelings to take over my life, but they were there. Always there.
Recently, my grandma sent me a binder filled with things about my mom, and it included a copy of a letter she sent you. As I read it, I was overjoyed she was able to express her perspective and feelings. Clearly not something you allowed us to do in your house. Maybe this letter had zero effect on you, because frankly, I don’t believe you ever cared for us. We were not your wife and daughter, we were your servants, there to wait on you hand and foot. BUT, knowing my mom was able to say her peace before she passed, was just what I needed to see to begin letting go of my resentment towards you.
I pray you took this experience and made changes in your life. Now, that I’m grown, I have a bit of empathy for you. I know only an unhappy person could have treated the people he supposedly loved the way you treated us.
In all honesty, it seems like a lifetime ago I resided in your miserable presence. A life of constant fear and walking on eggshells around you. Now, my life is joyous and loving. I’ve been happily married since 2004 and we have two beautiful children. My husband treats me like a queen, and I’m grateful my children won’t grow up in the same environment I did.
I’m not writing you to make you feel bad. Truly I am not. It’s quite the opposite. I, sincerely, hope you found happiness. I’m writing you to tell you I can finally forgive you. I won’t allow my anger for you to be a part of my life any longer, but you should be aware of the damage you caused.