This was written for The Red Dress Club‘s memoir writing project, Remembe(red). Concrit is always welcome, and thanks for taking the time!
This week's prompt is about forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving yourself. Write about a time of forgiveness.
Word limit: 600 My count: 599
“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head.”
I just sat there, speechless, taking it.
“I'm more in love with the idea of you, than actual you.
“I don't want kids. I think I'm more cut out to be the fun uncle.
“I don't think I could get it up for you even if I wanted to.
“You did this to me. This handwashing thing is because you made me go into The City.
“Maybe it's you. Maybe I'm not your type,” his expression making clear that he was questioning my sexual preference.
I glanced at the audience listening to this with me, hoping for support. All I found was his mom, my mother-in-law, playing idly with the melting ice and whisky in her glass.
When he had finished his tirade, I followed him out to our car and we went home. I was 22 years old.
This wasn't the first time; these verbal attacks had happened off and on throughout our relationship. Running late getting home from the mall with a girlfriend, his first reaction was outrage, not concern. I remember him bellowing at me if I forgot to change my shoes and clothes quickly enough upon getting home from running errands; absolute chaos that would rain down if I dropped something on the sidewalk in San Francisco, and he would throw and break things to emphasize a point.
When I came home from work a few weeks later, I found a note. “I'm sorry things didn't work out between us. I still love you. Maybe in the future.” I think he even signed it with a heart. Even then, I was already working on forgiveness
I specifically remember thinking “I'm hoping to have moved on to something better by the time ‘the future' rolls around. Sorry, dude.”
I spent some time mourning my loss; not that he was gone, but that my plans were all messed up now. Marrying at 20 hadn't been in the plan, but once it was, I had shifted things around to make it fit my plan. I certainly hadn't planned to divorce at 22! I just needed a bit of time to adjust my worldview.
As soon as the lease on “our” apartment was up, I moved in with a friend, and we set up a nice little life for ourselves. We spent the weekends partying and hanging out at local bars, I worked during the week… life was good. I often joked that I should have sent my ex a thank you note, because if he hadn't left, I might still have been trapped in that miserable life I was destined for.
I didn't actually realize that I'd forgiven him until after I got sick. He'd heard I was in the hospital and called, wanting to send his thoughts. My sister told him that I'd try to call him back at some point, but I never did. I didn't need to talk to him.
All I felt for him, honestly, was pity. He had been a man in the grip of mental illness; the obsessive-compulsive disorder that ruled his life (and mine) hadn't been his fault. The horrible things he'd said to me weren't entirely his fault. Holding a grudge was pointless and a waste of energy.
So I let it go and moved on.
He sent me a Facebook message a couple of months back, complimented me on my family, and said he was glad I appeared happy. I asked about his folks, and sent on my regards. I signed that message
Take Care of Yourself,
and meant it.