Forgiving Half-Heartedly

Because I’m in denial about our November 80 degree weather (It’s the South, ugh!), I come to you with a steaming cup of peppermint tea and a candy cane! I barely survived last week, so I’m sinking further into my foul mood by writing about something that is rather unpleasant but an ever-present part of me.

Everyone will encounter betrayal at some point in their life. And, no, it doesn’t have to come from a significant other. It can arise from a parent, sibling, friend, teacher, or just about anyone. Situations vary from trivial and minor to extreme and relationship-threatening. I have many people in my life who have fallen out with another person, and called it off. They never tried to pick up the broken pieces, and sometimes sank low into a state of blind animosity. They let the hate fuel their attitude towards that person and it eventually resulted in them becoming bitter. Despite whatever pain another party may have caused you, this is never a solution.

I was not yet a teenager when my parents divorced. I was blind to a majority of their issues, and ignored anything that would have given me cause to think that their marriage was coming to an end. Nevertheless, it did, and it was an experience for my siblings and I. Divorces can turn into the things of nightmares very quickly, and my parents’ did. Despite being still children, my siblings and I trudged on with little resistance. We saw our parents’ relationship go from stagnant to loathsome, but we three maintained our love for both. I will not lie; it was hard. We had years that seemed rockier than cliff faces, but we made it through it.

“Negative emotions like hatred destroy our peace of mind.”

Matthieu Ricard

It’s never an easy thing to witness the people you had such respect for change. I saw my father, Jaylon, in a very harsh light as his behavior toward my mother became brusque. Greed and animosity sprang up, and he often made me feel like a dollar sign rather than an actual person. His easy conversations turned sour as he fought to fit in snide comments about my mother. My mother, Katrina, sank into herself. She possessed the worries of the world, and it was very visible to us, her children. Her love and respect for my dad quickly dissolved into tears and bitterness. Any efforts of civility were abandoned, and it was clear to all of us that any small morsel of forgiveness was lost long ago.

“Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.”

William Arthur Ward

We all grew to adulthood with our own problems and insecurities, but I see now that our parents’ broken marriage did leave a mark (At least, on me it did). I watched as a two decade long bond was broken, and it left me broken too in many ways. I was betrayed! The two people in my life that were supposed to stay together split up. Jaylon and Katrina were supposed to be a model for me; they were supposed to be the couple I looked back on as a young adult and wished to be like. Now, I was destined to wander blindly into relationships, hoping I knew what the hell a healthy one looked like. Because of this, I suffer from a severe lack of trust in people. My parents’ marriage and divorce were clear proof that people can drastically change. I saw two people who I thought loved each other turn against one another; a complete 180! How could two people go from full of happiness to full of hate? You can see how this leaves little faith for me to build a strong foundation for a relationship on. If I fall in love, how am I supposed to know that my husband won’t change and find that I’m not enough anymore? (Granted, I know the basic reasons my parents’ marriage crumbled, but many other marriages fall apart with little to no reason at all) If I encounter trouble in my future relationships, how or when will I know if I need to let go and move on? That’s right, I don’t. I’m always going to keep friends and romantic partners at arm’s length because I don’t trust that they’ll always feel as they do now. And that’s reason #5897465 why I’m single (just kidding, there are more reasons than that). As you can see, my lack of trust can present a huge problem for my future.

“Trust dies but mistrust blossoms.”

Sophocles

As far as my siblings go, I don’t know the extent of damage my parents’ divorce had on them. Being the baby of the family, I watched as they always stood tall and strong against trials in our lives, and the divorce was no different. Kate and Henry walked with an air of nonchalance that even I grew envious of. I notice now that they retracted a general bitterness towards both parties that I seemed to lack, but I always chalked that up to them being older and more aware of the divorce than I. Seeing both of their parents turn against one another must have caused them to lose a little respect for both. I was often shielded from realities of it whereas they were hit with full force. I’m happy to say that my infliction of trust issues seems to only go as far as me (Thank God!). They soared forward in relationships with ease and seem to be at peace with their respective partners. I’m happy for my siblings as I am happy for my parents.

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”

Joyce Meyer

My parents are still at a stand still. Their hate is palpable, and I fear it will  never fade. I feel pity for them because holding on to that hate is only harming themselves. I can only hope that one day they’ll see that, and they will finally let go of this decade long resentment. I, on the other hand, had only one option, and that was to move on. I knew that harboring resentment for either party would only bring me down as a grew older, so I got rid of it altogether. No, it wasn’t easy; it’s still not easy! There are days when one or both of my parents try to drag me back towards that path of bitterness, and I feel close to snapping at them, but I don’t. Jaylon turned to pulling the guilt treatment whenever possible to illustrate the wrongness of the hand he was dealt. He expects the father of the year award, yet he shies away from some of the responsibilities that come with being a father. Nevertheless, he’s my father, and I love him. Katrina continues to let her injured pride blind her when it comes to my father. To her, he possesses no redeemable quality, and I fear she often forgets that her marriage had some good outputs (Such as her three lovely children). Nevertheless, she’s my mother, and I love her. I decided to leave the hate behind me when the divorce came to a close because it does no good to dwell on the past; it only prevents you from moving forward.

I know the number of divorces is steadily growing, and I’m not insinuating that divorce should be forbidden. In the case of Jaylon and Katrina, I believed it to be the best route. I think my parents’ divorce needed to happen despite its impact on my siblings and me. I would much rather they admit it was over than go on pretending to be happy. I feel the effect of witnessing a scam of a marriage would only result in more problems (than I already have). Even though my siblings and I were no longer considered young, we three still carry around our share of the divorce every day. It affected everyone involved. I now have two separate lives with my parents, and I seem to become two separate people in the presence of one or the other. That’s a result of seeing your parents’ marriage fall apart. The one thing I think is completely necessary in anyone’s viewpoint of the situation is the aspect of forgiveness. You have to forgive because you’re only hurting yourself by not. Refusing to forgive someone in this case or any case becomes a burden that only you carry around. Harboring hate and resentment hurts everyone: the parents, the children, the families, and the friends. It’s better to just let go and move on with your life in any situation.

“Hatred is self-punishment.”

Hosea Ballou

Notice how I began this whole thing with absolutely no specifics. You know why? Because divorce isn’t the only way someone gets their feelings hurt. Relationships fail for all types of reasons and not just romantic relationships. As I mentioned before, my relationship with my mother, father, and siblings all changed. They may not have been ruined, but they were surely affected. People can hurt your feelings. Sometimes they are at fault, and sometimes you are. The point of all my ramblings is the only way to move forward is to forgive. Otherwise, you’re going to waste so much time of your life angry and full of animosity (Don’t be that person).

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                           Abby

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