Originally posted on Facebook on June 5th 2012 and building on a January 17th, 2012 post, the later of which can be seen here: https://legosandlingerie.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/derailed/
June 5th – New 2012 resolution: forgiveness.
It’s a good time to review my 2012 resolutions and see how I’m doing:
Be a better father – with all humility, I’m doing really well with this.
Be a better friend – I could still be doing better on this. So many people I want to visit, so little time.
Be a better boss – this is challenging. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude when everything around us is very demoralizing. It’s very hard to be the only one in the group pushing a positive attitude.
Exercise more – Meh. At least I’m not exercising less.
Lose weight – see above, at least I’m not gaining.
Swear less – ha! Why did I even put this one on here?
Floss – one of these days.
Get up when I wake up – I wake up every day, so that’s half-way to the goal.
Eat better & cook more – doing this!
Travel out of the country – not yet, but I did book a house for a week on Block Island, which means this will be the first time in years that I don’t take the last two weeks of the year as vacation because I haven’t done anything all year. It counts in my book. Plus, I can still sneak in a road-trip to Canada. Montreal anyone?
Try something completely new, in this case I’ll be trying posing naked for a local artist – see “lose weight” above; first things first.
Read every book on this list and try to learn a few new things: http://liveboldandbloom.com/01/self-improvement/the-20-most-life-altering-concepts-ive-ever-embraced
I haven’t read any of those books yet, but I’ve already read more books than I read last year. I have a personal goal of 52 books this year; you can see the details on Goodreads.com. I’d be further along, but my coursework for my masters chews up a bunch of my reading time.
In the comments section of my original post (January 17th) I mentioned that my divorce had triggered a reexamination of my life. I mentioned then that I was spending a lot of time “exploring how I think about things, how I think about thinking about things…and how I want to live and love and exist and parent as I move through my forties.”
In pondering that since then and I’ve decided to add another resolution to my list: forgive my ex. For those of you who don’t know, she had an affair while we were married. I totally understand how that can happen. I recognize my role in causing that to happen. I was never angry about the affair itself.
I was angry that instead of taking responsibility and initiating a divorce she chose a path where she defined me as the problem in our marriage and changes in my behavior as the only way to keep the marriage – a marriage she didn’t want to be in anymore – intact. As the months of 2009 ran together small requests for changes became suggestions to seek therapy, which became a demand to take anti-depression medication I never needed, grew into pulling away from my touch one afternoon in December, describing it as like that of a “fumbling 18-year-old” and refusing to apologize for my “interpreting that as insulting”, and culminated in my belief that I might be too damaged to maintain an adult relationship, all while she was sleeping with another man.
I didn’t find out about the affair until months after deciding to get divorced, convinced that she was no longer interested in trying to fix things, whatever her reasons might be, and finally clear on the fact that she didn’t respect me, would never compromise, and therefor didn’t really love me. I didn’t develop my anger about the betrayal her behavior represented until some months after that, it grew the most with the recognition that the person I loved and trusted was willing to let me believe that it was my shortcomings, and only my shortcomings, representing something vaguely flawed with me as a person, that led to our divorce, but I’ve carried that anger since then.
While I didn’t actively nurture my anger, my ex’s often disrespectful and belittling behavior when we interacted, based on her belief that the reasons behind our failed marriage were entirely my fault and that she bore no responsibility at all, a theory frequently defended to our mutual friends, kept my anger fresh. I began to react. I cut off her frequent phone calls asking for help with the wireless connection, with the sink, with whatever it was plaguing her that day, for whatever emotional support she was seeking.
I stopped smiling at the funny stories she told me. I stopped asking about her life. I closed my life off to her. I haven’t let her step foot in my house in nearly two and a half years. I wear sunglasses and my best poker face every time we cross paths. I don’t sign my emails with my name. At the boys’ activities I stand on the opposite side of the field or court. The meanest thing I’ve done has been to discard her name. I don’t remember the last time I actually said her name to her or even used it in an email.
I have done everything I can to make her feel like she doesn’t exist to me. I have made every interaction with her completely impersonal, as if it were a slow Thursday afternoon at the motor vehicle department and she was nothing more to me than number 17 and a handful of mundane forms. It does not appear that she has ever picked up on this. If she has, I suspect that she attributes my behavior to what she would describe as my immaturity.
And to a large degree, she would be right. Though the majority of my motivation has been defensive in its nature, at its core my actions are petty, mean, and in no small way, vengeful. That anger gave me the space to eventually realize that she does not respect me and so my interactions with her will never change. I cannot make her respect me, but I can change how I react to her, I can adjust my expectations so that I am no longer surprised when she does something self-centered, self-serving, and inconsiderate. That is a maturity I can obtain. Adjusting my expectations of her is something I can achieve.
That insight brings with it the realization that my anger no longer serves a purpose; that petty, mean, and vengeful behavior is not becoming of me, no matter the reasons. So I will forgive what has happened in the past, stop the behaviors I’ve described above, be respectful to my ex and, most importantly, let go of my anger. It served a purpose for a time, but it has also weighed me down, diverted energy away from the important things in my life, and pushed away a woman I fell in love with after my divorce.
My energy and focus are better used on learning new things, enjoying my sons and my friends, and knocking the rest of those resolutions off my list. It is better used to continue to explore how I think about things, how I think about thinking about things, and how I want to live and love and exist as a person with all of the people around me as I move forward with my life.