Just this morning, I had another epiphany.
Many believe that physical strength is what matters in life, more people believe it’s intelligence, and most people overall believe it’s virtues (while everyone has different perspectives of what beliefs qualify as virtues). While all of those things matter to each their own degrees, I don’t think any of them are the greatest power a person can possess.
What is truly the greatest power a person can possess? With physical strength, you can always get stronger with a little training. With intelligence, that arguably cannot be increased but a person’s knowledge base certain can be increased. And with virtues, well, it’s easy to just hold beliefs; it’s not really anything impressive much at all.
I think the greatest power a person can possess is forgiveness.
Additionally, a person’s ability to forgive is the measure of their character. But more on that later.
Think about it: We only forgive people who have wronged us. It’s the same vein as how we only make peace with our enemies. Almost by its very nature, forgiveness can never be earned. Nothing can change the past. Perhaps in some circumstances, the effects of the past can be undone, but nothing changes the sheer fact that the past happened.
What is forgiveness exactly? It’s the choice to no longer hold a wrong against someone. It’s the choice to leave the past out of the present.
Yesterday (as of the day I post this), I clashed with my ex-wife for the first time in two months. After two months of pure kindness, she kept spitting in my face, and my strength gave out once again. She obviously does it on purpose – the rudeness, the animosity, and then lying about doing it – and she does this to someone who keeps being more kind to her than she deserves. So, my strength gave out. After calming down, I sent her a message that, in part, pointed out the fact that her stepfather treated her far more poorly than I ever did, but he gets infinite forgiveness while I get none.
My point was proving that forgiveness is always a choice. Always.
Everyone in my life and her life knows my ex-wife is going to drag us to court a third time, and then she’s going to lose again, and then she’s going to blame someone else for it again. This relates to what I’ve said for months about the fact she will never grow as a person because she never allows herself to.
Here is something I said to her yesterday (verbatim):
You were a gem, *****. A wonderful wife. I was damn lucky to have you. I drove you away with my weakness and that was the greatest mistake of my life. I’ll never change my mind about that. But you yourself have changed into something I can’t stand. If we got back together, you wouldn’t be who you were in 2016 when my heart melted for you. You’re not that person anymore by far.
And she responded with:
I will never be the same person as before I met you. You nailed that coffin of me shut. But I am slowly getting back to who I used to be. Your opinion on the matter doesn’t change what’s happened.
Those are the words of someone who consciously, very consciously, is choosing to keep the past in the present. What else do those words possibly mean? And that’s not the first time she’s told me “It doesn’t change what happened.” Normally, I would call this immaturity, which my ex-wife will always severely suffer from, but this is also a lesson in the importance and the power of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is important because it means you choose to grow. It means you choose to not be controlled by the past. Everyone you love will hurt you at some point in life. Everyone. I can’t emphasize that enough: Everyone. Someday, my daughter will hurt me. She will probably hurt me many times, before she grows up and after she grows up. Making mistakes is what people do.
My ex-wife will never grow, she will never improve, and she will never be on good terms with me, because she doesn’t want any of those things. If her therapist was competent, they would explain this simple concept to her. I’ve talked on this blog before about how most human beings are more comfortable staying where they are, physically and mentally, and how this also very much applies to miserable people.
My ex-wife gets attention from boys, extra attention from relatives, free money each month, and just the sheer pleasure of spitting on me, if she remains in her current mental state forever. These are the reasons she is the same person now at 24 that she will be when she’s 42. It’s not about right and wrong, it’s about what’s convenient.
She can do it, she just chooses not to.
What ultimately negates every argument she’s had to refuse to forgive the past is the fact that I already don’t forgive myself, and possibly never could. She wants to believe that if she forgives, I will no longer have to live with my mistakes. Which is sheer nonsense. I could forgive myself now, I could forgive myself later, but what good would that do? I’m starting to have doubts as to whether that would even be possible. How could I forget the fact it is mostly (not completely, but mostly) my fault that my family – the most important thing in my life – was torn apart? A lifetime of living with the effects of coming from a broken family, not to mention moving from family to family throughout my childhood, made me want a stable, complete family of my own more than anything else in the world. How could I forget the fact I ruined that, even if my ex-wife forgave me and we started over?
I couldn’t bear feeling this pain again. I couldn’t bear feeling this anger again. Basically what I’m saying is: I think I deserve feeling this guilt for the rest of my life, even if all is forgiven.
Generally speaking, I think forgiveness should always be done for others, but rarely done for one’s self. We should not forgive ourselves for the wrong we do to others. THAT should be everyone’s punishment for the times they’ve hurt someone. And everyone on Earth hurts the people they love from time to time. But it helps nothing, it does absolutely no good whatsoever, to refuse to forgive others.
Even if you hate that person for what they did, forgiving them removes their power over you. So, at the very least, do it for that reason alone.
Do I think my ex-wife should forgive her stepfather? Yes. My issue with the guy has never been for what he did, it’s been about the fact he doesn’t seem to care, and doesn’t seem to have changed. So, in his case, the past is still in the present, in a way. And that’s exactly where my ex-wife is, mentally, right now and likely forever. She forgives a man who did worse to her, but chooses to hold on to what I did, forever.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned how a person’s ability to forgive is the measure of their character. How, you may ask? Because like I also said earlier, forgiveness is always a choice. There are things I know for sure I could never forgive, even if forgiveness is always a choice. Anyone who hurt my daughter would never be forgiven, or anyone who heinously harms any innocent person for that matter. I think of myself as a good person, but I’m not that good. There are things I would choose to never forgive, and honestly, I don’t feel any shame for that. Some people can forgive the brutal slaughter of their loved ones. Remember when Amber Guyger killed her neighbor because she ‘couldn’t remember which apartment was hers’? Well, her victim’s entire family forgave her, and even hugged her after she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. I would not have forgiven her, ever, and I would have been outraged that she only got 10 years.
I never hit my wife, or yelled at her, or threatened her, or restricted her freedoms, or threw things at her (like her stepfather did). She wants (emphasis on ‘wants’) to believe that when I insecurely asked why she sometimes came home over 4 hours late from work, or when I kept trying to understand how she could justify going to see her ex-boyfriend behind my back, that I was abusively scorning her and accusing her of things. I still blame myself for what happened between us, but she wants to amplify how bad I was, beyond what is reasonable. It’s just not in my personality to raise my voice at people, or try to control people, or especially get violent with people. At the end of our marriage, she drove me over the edge by talking to her friend Zack on purpose right in front of me, and feeling more anger in that moment than I ever felt in my life, I kicked her chair … and she wants to use that one freak incident as proof I was always violent. Even her own relatives have admitted that was abnormal of me.
Even if I was everything she wants to paint me as, and worse, it still wouldn’t mean that’s who I am now. And this is what I want to close on.
I’ve learned many lessons from what went wrong between us, and what’s happened since she left me. If she chose (emphasis on ‘chose’) to leave the past in the past, and to let us start over, it would do wonders for our entire family. She wouldn’t be weighed down by the past anymore, she wouldn’t be so stressed out anymore, and most importantly, our daughter would have Mommy and Daddy with her at all times again. It wouldn’t happen all at once, it would probably be spread out over the course of 6 months, or a year, but it would still happen.
I would cherish that wonderful woman my heart melted for. I wouldn’t be insecure anymore, I wouldn’t be oblivious to the things she gave, gave, gave. And I certainly wouldn’t hold her own heinous behavior against her. I would forgive everything. Literally everything.
But since she chooses to keep the past in the present, I have to as well. For as long as she does that, it’s not a matter of forgiveness for me, it’s a matter of coping with her shitty behavior. But like I told her yesterday, she is not the person I fell in love with anymore. She seems proud of that fact, too. Right now, I will solemnly swear: If she chose to forgive the past, my perception of her would change in an instant. I would be very surprised. It would not be expected at all. I will admit I’ve been wrong to assume she became a shitty person. But we all know that’s not going to happen. I am ready to leave the past in the past, but first, it needs to be left in the past.
For strangers reading this, may this be a lesson for you as well, about the power of forgiveness. We will all be wronged by the people we love. It’s part of being human. That’s what makes forgiveness so powerful. When we are wronged, we learn, and when we forgive, we still have the knowledge we gained. In a sense, forgiveness may be the very root of wisdom itself?