Two important points to make at the top of the post:
- Forgiveness is like decluttering for your soul.
- This is my last post centered around my divorce/marriage, I promise.
I have been talking about my divorce a lot lately, and I’m sorry for being a broken record. This is the last one with a divorce theme though, because I have recently observed the one year anniversary of the day my dissolution was final. I have been very reflective lately and thought that the blog would be a good outlet for the lessons I learned from letting go of the emotional clutter. Let’s dig in!
Throughout the past year, I have been angry, I have been sad, I have been lonely, and I have been happy. It was really hard to let go of my marriage in the beginning, but once I understood that it was what I needed, that I had the power to make my life what I finally realized I deserved… that was a tipping point, and I moved quickly to get where I needed to be.
I will be completely honest and say that I have missed some aspects of my marriage – like goodnight kisses, knowing someone was going to be there, and the warmth of sleeping next to another person and not just my cat. But I have learned that it is far better to be alone than to be with the wrong person, and for that I am thankful that I was able to leave.
If I really think about it, I can pinpoint at least five moments where I wish I would have left on the spot and been done forever, but I kept coming back. I think I was punishing myself, to be honest. Leftover self-esteem issues, which had truly been underlying our relationship since its beginning, were causing me to routinely believe that I would never do better and didn’t deserve any better than the life I had chosen for myself at the age of 20 when I agreed to marry him. (Note: If you are 20 and reading this, seriously take your time when making major life decisions. You might change.)
I know that he mistreated me, and for all the things he did (and didn’t do) I have been angry, sad, and disappointed for years. In my last year of reflection, however, I’ve come to fully understand and appreciate that I am not without blame or responsibility. I mistreated him too. I also mistreated myself by staying in a life that was making me miserable. I owed it to both of us to leave when I did, and I truly hope he is happy. It’s hard for me to accurately gauge my own happiness at the moment, dealing with other current personal issues, but I know that overall, my life is better because I got divorced.
I think that the two hardest things to do after a breakup (or any trauma, really) are to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and to accept an apology you’ll never receive. I will probably never talk to my ex-husband again, so I will never know if he learned anything from our marriage and subsequent dissolution and I will never hear him apologize for hurting me.
I have let that go.
I could stay mad about it, or I could choose not to stay mad about it. I choose to let it go, because I would be mad forever and I don’t have time for that. I have my own life and I can’t spend any more of it worrying about apologies I never got and grievances I never aired.
Forgiveness benefits both the forgiving and the forgiven parties. In the case of forgiveness when you’re never going to see the person again, it’s mostly for you though. I forgive him because not forgiving him would take up too much of my time, my happiness, and my freedom. It took me years to leave a relationship that was making me miserable, how can I possibly continue to let that relationship make me miserable? It’s over and in the past now, and I feel so free being able to say that.
As far as forgiving myself goes, I just have to remember that people make mistakes, and it’s okay. The important thing is that I did what I needed to do. If I could tell past-Caitlin anything, I would tell her that I forgive her for spending so long “trying to make it work” and that I’m proud of her for leaving when she finally understood it never would.