Last week, I had a terrible fight with my ex-husband. It didn't start out as a fight. In fact, it started as an amicable conversation about new tires for our shared car. We agreed to take a trip together that weekend and take care of it, and on the ride there we discussed ordinary things, like what each of us was doing at work, our new apartments, my sister's recent graduation. But then, something went awry. He asked me a question about someone I was dating, and the conversation veered into dangerous territory. Emotions bubbled to the surface, and an off-hand comment he made about my potential romantic interest turned into a heated argument about the past. I realized mid-way through that we were having the same fight we had been having for years. And if it had never been resolved before, it certainly wasn't going to be resolved that day, either.
You see, my ex has never forgiven me for my affair when we were married, and which happened over three years ago. Truthfully, I haven't even forgiven myself. The subject of my crime has come up time and time again since my confession, and despite my admittance that I made a huge mistake, he has yet to let it go. It is one of the main reasons we divorced, in fact. But even divorce doesn't end a long-held grievance. And he deserved the right to be hurt, to be angry, maybe even to end the marriage. But after all this time, I wonder if my punishment is to never be forgiven. I can't help but to wonder as well, is my punishment permanent? It seems to be endless.
Have you ever found yourself feeling like a fight you are having with someone is actually having you? Words, instead of being considered and exchanged, just go round and round in circles, until they become meaningless. That's the kind of argument that we tend to become trapped in, when we probably shouldn't be having it in the first place. The same old issues get rehashed over and over again, the same accusations repeated. Do we continue to beat a dead horse because we are still that angry, or is it because we think we can bring it back to life? If you debate someone enough times, will you eventually be able to win? It seems to me that in most fights, nobody wins. I know how badly I hurt my ex with my infidelity. But I hurt myself, too. And that's why there will never be an answer – nobody is going to win. The fights we have had about it and continue to revisit are useless, because really there is only one option on the table: to accept the past.
You can choose to forgive your ex or not, but there is nothing you can do to change what has already happened. If you keep telling yourself the same old story, reminding him or her and yourself of the things you can't forget, you can't move on. And you want to move on, even if you may not recognize it right now. It's time to tell a new story, and make new memories. I have a fantasy - and perhaps it is just that - that my ex will finally choose to forgive me for my bad choices. If he ever does, maybe he'll remember there were so many good days we shared, along with the bad. Maybe we would even rediscover each other, new and emerged from old wounds, grudge-free. It's a long shot, but I have hope. Some people find this very foolish, but it is a hope that lives deep in my heart. Yet, I know I have to forget him, at least for now. I have to go on with my life.
Going on with my life means that even if my ex can’t forgive me, I have to forgive myself. The only thing worse than having the same fight with someone over and over, is having it with yourself. Instead of blaming myself for everything, and rehashing all the ways I could have done things differently, I need to go forward with peace of mind, free from the burden of the same old story. I once heard someone say that reality is simply a story the mind tells itself. If that theory is true, then I want my story to be new, honest, and free. I want my story to be exciting, and worth living for. I imagine we all do, and the only way to make it happen is by telling ourselves that in reality, we can put down our swords and walk away from the fight for the last time. That story has already been told.
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