Forgiveness Can Mean You Still Think What They Did Sucked

I never would have imagined I’d be grateful to feel nothing for the man I once said marriage vows to.

Today would have been our 13th wedding anniversary, but instead today we are teetering on the edge of being strangers to each other, thankfully.

It was grueling to have feelings of anything stronger than lukewarm estrangement after he left, having the what-ifs and fond memories hanging like a tightening noose over my head.

The inside jokes and laughter we shared are not a part of my soul anymore. I mourned that loss for years, but lately a shift to sighing in relief has occurred because it means our paths are truly going their own way, giving each other permission to leave the other behind without regrets.

I was stuck in anger and shock that the person closer to me than anyone else in the world would decide to seek out happiness somewhere else. If I stayed in that place of anger and shock, I would not be able to be a strong co-parent to the best parts of our crumbled marriage.

Our conversations are very pragmatic, revolving around the daily routine of our children, asking if our son should keep taking violin lessons or if our daughter should try a sport.

For a long time, I had a pit in my stomach when I realized this person I cared so much about was drifting further and further away to be a mere acquaintance. I almost felt guilty that I couldn’t care less about his life beyond my children. Now I am grateful for the space it’s made in my soul.

This is the same person I used to watch sleep and pray that we would both stay healthy and happy to live a long life together. Now I don’t even know what music he likes or what hair product he uses.

This emotional changing of tracks can mess with your head though, right? We go “all in” to a commitment and imagine it being forever and growing old, and then almost overnight it abruptly stops being the course and your life changes as quickly as the vows came out.

That’s the thing about life—We’re sort of allowed to take massive dumps on each other in the pursuit of happiness. We’ve all been guilty of it in varying degrees. No one is immune to this fragile state of human, imperfect vulnerability.

I’m so glad he is well, and his pursuit of happiness has turned out to lead to both of us having better spouses than we were to each other. I have found forgiveness, but I’ve come to learn that forgiveness doesn’t lead to rainbows and giggling leprechauns where everyone’s friends again.

It’s a long path if you choose to take it, but an even longer path if you choose to avoid it.

Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean you’ve wiped the slate clean and now have warm, fuzzy feelings for that person again and that what they did hasn’t changed you to your core. You’re allowed to admit it really sucked, plain and simple, and to not ever be cool with it, all while finding forgiveness at the same time. It’s a lot to ask of your heart, and it’s confusing as hell, but it is possible.

My forgiveness comes with feelings of peaceful neutrality and a shrugging of my shoulders if anyone asks about him.

So today I will not be celebrating a wedding anniversary, and my heart feels nothing about that. What a relief.

Feeling nothing doesn’t mean I haven’t faced the emotions that stood stubbornly in line before neutrality got to me. I faced the depression, loneliness, anger, and resentment before I gave myself permission to shake hands with complacency.

Complacency has such a bad connotation to it, doesn’t it? It means we don’t care, or we’re not trying hard enough. In this case, it means the breakup of our marriage and family no longer has its grips on me <most days. Hey, I’m human> so I can be a stronger person, focused on today.

A good gauge of life is pain. If you’ve felt pain, then you’re doing it right. You’re putting yourself out there. When we aren’t the thing that brings happiness to someone, we have to step aside and thank them for the honesty. Does that mean we’re brimming with glittery gratitude at first? Nah. No way.

Eventually though, if you’re lucky, you wake up, look at your wedding picture of a man you no longer know, and say, “Oh. So that happened. What’s for breakfast?”



About Rebecca Rine

Rebecca Rine is a nonfiction writer living in Dayton, Ohio, transplanted from Chicago. She contributes to the Dayton Daily News as well as public radio. Her first book of essays is called "Sunbathing in a Body Cast" and is currently working on a book about surviving divorce called "Face Your Divorce Poo." Yay!

2 comments on “Forgiveness Can Mean You Still Think What They Did Sucked

  1. I had a roommate in college that treated me very badly. She was in our wedding not long after the incident, but I never really forgave her or moved past that in our relationship.

    That was almost 8 years ago. Last week, I finally talked to her and we discussed the issues and she apologized. I apologized. And finally, I started really forgiving her. It was hard,but I agree. I still think what she did sucked. But, me not forgiving her, that was sucky too. All that did was hurt me.

    Forgiveness is the hard part, but at the same time, it gives the most peace.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I love your story. You’re right–not forgiving is also a sucky thing to do, especially since we’re going to need that forgiveness from someone else someday.
      And everyone’s path to forgiveness is different. If it took you 8 years to get to it, it just means you came to it authentically instead of thinking you should forgive instead of genuinely feeling that.
      Sometimes bringing issues into the light of discussion is all that I need to feel like I can get past it. It’s when we harbor things and let them fester that they start to take on such heavy darkness, there’s no hope for healing.
      Thanks again for reading this. It makes my heart happy!

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