Love, Grief and Forgiveness (Part Three)

February 27, 2013:

My ex husband passed away.
When my son told me the news, my first thought was, “Damn, if I’d known he was going to die so young, I could have stuck it out”.
I had a strong desire to go see him. I wanted to see with my own eyes that it was true.
Then I thought, “God forgive me for having such horrible, ugly thoughts”.
I said nothing out loud except a very sincere “I’m sorry” to our son.
Those two words expressed more than condolences for his father’s passing. They spoke volumes of genuine sorrow for everything that wasn’t right with our family…our life. 
I went through the next few days in my usual way. Talking about his passing and our tumultuous life together as nonchalantly as if I were discussing the weather.
It had been nearly 19 years since that day he lost his temper and his usual control, pushing me in front of witnesses. That lack of control is what frightened me more than anything. I went directly to the police and had him removed from our home. We had little contact since then.
I doubt most people knew how difficult those 18+ years were for me. I certainly didn’t tell them.
I didn’t even let myself know.
March 2, 2013:
Standing in the shower I heard my ex husband’s voice as clear as if he were standing there too. He said those same two words, “I’m sorry”.
Just as they did when I spoke them a few days prior, they held a lifetime of regret.
Cue Willie Nelson singing “You Were Always on My Mind”.
The song my ex had actually sung to me once.
Amid the chorus blaring in my head, I kept hearing his voice repeating “I’m sorry” over again.
Yes, really.
Was he truly speaking to me from the afterlife or was it my own mind speaking what I wanted to hear?
Either way, I lost it. Tears that I couldn’t control, sorrow so deep it scared me. All that had been our life flooded my mind. The good, the horrible, the regrets and the pain. I don’t normally express emotion publicly, but this time I decided to share with my friends and family. Still sobbing, I posted the following on my personal FB.

                             “When someone passes away we tend to emphasis the good. But how am I supposed to feel when someone who hurt me so much dies? I stopped being angry a long time ago. I still sometimes feel sad that things were so difficult, but I know I can’t change the past. Today for the first time since hearing the news of my ex husband’s passing, I have tears. We had 15 years & 3 children together. I will remember the good & be thankful that I can. I will take comfort knowing that his mind, body & soul are finally at peace. I will pray that those who loved him, his family, his girlfriend & most importantly our children will find comfort as well”

I struggled through the next days, seeing my ex in-laws, meeting the girlfriend and getting more involved than I felt I should. 
I decided to attend the viewing to support my children and in hopes of receiving that feeling of closure people speak so highly of. The girlfriend was supportive of me going, his family was not.
March 5, 2013:
Getting ready to leave for the funeral home, I shared those pesky emotions again.
                             “A day that I never imagined would be so painful. There was love, there was hate, then after years of feeling nothing I’m reliving each & every moment of our lives together. God, let me get through this evening with strength & grace. Let those who believe I shouldn’t be there keep silent & those who need me there feel my love for them. Amen”

Being there was oddly comforting and painful at the same time.

I believe with all my heart that no one is inherently evil. There may be something organically wrong or it may be the sequelae from trauma that turns us into assholes.
People who abuse were often victims of abuse themselves.

I’m in no way making excuses for another’s bad behavior or trying to disregard the damage it causes.
I’m just saying that I understand how our pain can spill over and cause us to hurt others.

Over one year, a couple of other family tragedies and a PTSD diagnosis later, I’m still trying to accept and move on. Although my mind is holding a bit of a grudge, the nightmares and anxiety persist; I can honestly say that my heart has forgiven him.


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4 comments on “Love, Grief and Forgiveness (Part Three)

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Such an honest look at a difficult transition.


  2. Thanks for sharing with such honesty. Emotions are so much more complex and layered than we sometimes realize. Big hugs to you.


  3. I applaud you for the courage it took to write this. You can see the degree of PTSD there is by how very painful, fresh, in HD and living technicolor all the details are with the musical score in the background even! Every nuance, every memory gets carefully packed away in tissue paper in the area of the brain we touch when we attempt to write about the fragility of the human heart.

    Especially in those who are Love Warriors. I make no judgement in the character of those who are like this or not. I know that for years, I was amazed at the women I thought were so much stronger than me, that they could just pack their bags and move on from the men they had once loved who had damaged them. I know that I judged myself mercilessly for it.

    Today, I know that it is just the way I am made. When I love someone, it goes to the depths of the ocean I never even knew I was swimming in. I know how to swim, but I prefer to sit by the ocean and gaze into it. You will not get me in there because I am afraid of it, afraid of what lurks out there that my eyes cannot see. Dangerous and dark creepy things that I know want only to hurt me.

    Yet when I’ve fallen in love, be it for a parent. a child, a man, family or friend…I fall into that ocean and become a long distance swimmer. A damn stubborn and loyal swimmer and deep sea diver at that. Even if I need for safety’s sake to not be present in their life, I will do my damnedest to preserve the love that I know was once pure. That is at the core of who I am. Love has always been my treasure.

    And I agree 1000% with you. Trauma in a person’s childhood and background can make them so full of pain and sickness, that they will go and stomp on the very treasure that could have made them free. That choice of their’s does not invalidate the truth of what you did indeed share with them before their sickness took them over. I have found that forgiveness does indeed give you that gift back again.

    The grief of course is the heart crying for what could have been, what should have been and the anger for the fact that you too were as full of fear as well, but were willing to go the distance. Our souls were created in love and given the gift of recognizing it. His soul recognized it when he was released from the tortured delusions so many succumb to in this life. And he was so very sorry. Truly sorry Karen. Your soul was once one with his. You heard him clearly. Do not ever doubt that.

    You are a Love Warrior. When you love you are a deep sea diver. You give it your all. You love with a child’s heart. It’s why I love you. It’s what I believe God’s asked us to be. “You must be as a little child to enter the Kingdom.” “Well done trusted servant.”


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