It was eight months since your father left, five since I’d discovered the truth of what he’d done. I had been a ball of fury since then, making it my occupation to destroy his character and get everyone and anyone on my side: friends, neighbours, the bank clerk, my therapist and inevitably you, my three wonderful, grown children, raised beautifully, but not perfectly, by me – and your father. So determined was I to destroy your father that I included you in my rage. My emotions were more important to me than yours.
The fierce progression of my anger eventually froze in a final frame within which I was able to move freely around the suspended components of the situation. I saw them all combusting: eldest, ready to cut me loose; middle, retreating further into depression; youngest, your robust warmth turning cold and hard. And me, alone in a rage that had nothing left to consume but myself and you. My house was burning down with you three inside.
With this realisation, each component dropped to the floor, inanimate. Him, an unconscious, selfish man disrespecting his wife and betraying his family and community. Me, with the eagerly adopted identity of the blameless victim. Eldest, your energy waning as you tried to love us both while coming to terms with your disrespect for us. Middle, working to protect your fragile, anxious world from us. Youngest, having no choice but to distance yourself and plan your future without us.
There would be no resolution, no justice, only a series of losses greater than the original.
Inexplicably, everything lifted and I stopped. It was the only option: I forgave him. I forgave him for myself, so I could move forward. I apologised to each of you for the destruction I had created in the wake of his. His actions, words and behaviour were reprehensible, but I was not obliged to carry them simply because he would not. I sent them back where they came from and I embraced indifference, the opposite of love.
He did not deserve my energy. But you three do. I do not want you to become what he has. Nor do I want you to behave as I have. You deserve better examples. But for now I can offer you only my example. With all my love, and with all my discipline, and with all the joy I know is still there, I promise to give you that.
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