There are some hurts we inflict, even with the best of intentions, which live on within us. My divorce from my first husband is one of those hurts. For over a decade I have lived with guilt, shame and pain, even though I know I did it from the purest part of my being at that time.
In order to move on, to lay the past to rest, I wrote to my former in-laws, my ex-husband and my parents, apologising for the pain and suffering I had caused. Over a decade later, perhaps one should let sleeping dogs lie, but I felt I had to do it. I would regret not doing it on my death bed.
I sent an email to my ex-husband rather than writing. I hoped he had moved job so it would bounce and I could think, 'ah well, I did my best'. It didn't bounce. There was no reply.
Apologising for something so deeply intimate and personal is more revealing than going naked: I felt utterly exposed, vulnerable and, to be honest, afraid. The hours ticked past, as I checked my emails, to no avail. It wasn't going to be easy, but I was glad I had done it, even if I didn't feel any sense of peace or release.
At 3pm that day, I was feeding James his snack. I suddenly felt a rush of peace; "It's fine" I uttered, for no apparent reason. Immediately after, James looked up to the ceiling and said, "Hello". He then looked at me and said, "Peace", and went back to eating his snack as if nothing had happened.
Several days later I received a very kind email from my ex-husband. My parents were also very kind, but what overwhelmed me was the loving response from my former in-laws, who rang to say that they understood and that they still loved me.
It was a courageous act on the surface, but only because I knew I couldn't live with this ghost haunting me. What I never expected was the kindness, love and delicacy with which I was treated, nor how much I would receive. It may just go to show that saying sorry really is a kindness to ourselves.
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