Today's post is a response to The Red Dress Club prompt on forgiveness.
I was 18 when I found out that I was pregnant. I was 18 and I was in a very unhealthy relationship . Throughout the pregnancy, he wanted to get married and I refused.
I knew that I couldn't marry him. I knew that I shouldn't marry him.
He was a liar. He was a cheater. He was abusive. He was a drug addict. He was manipulative, wrapping my entire family - my entire support system - around his little finger, turning them against me at the times when I needed them the most.
Don't ask me why we dated to begin with - some 15-odd years later, I can't recall a single positive thing about him. I was miserable for the majority of our relationship, and as hard as I tried during my pregnancy, I just couldn't see myself being married to him for the rest of my life. I was an emotionally fragile person and I knew, without a doubt, that I would not survive a marriage to him.
Three weeks before my due date, he slept with a stripper at a local strip club. That was the last straw. I left and I never looked back. At that point, the viel over my family's eyes had been lifted and they finally saw what a monster he had been. They welcomed me home with open arms and until I married three years later, they were 100% there for my daughter and I. Honestly? I would never have survived raising my daughter those years without them. I can't even imagine what would have happened to us if it weren't for them.
My daughter's father continued to live his life as he had while we were dating. He was heavily involved with drugs. He lied to me, he lied to his family, he lied to our daughter. He did drugs in front of our daughter. When she visited him one summer and came down with the flu, he refused to buy medicine until I threatened to call his parents. He took our daughter to the bar and made her sit in the truck while he got drunk, then had her breathe into the court-mandated breathalyzer in his car. He told her vicious, horrible lies about my family. He rarely contacted her, unless it was almost time for a visit to his parents.
I hated him. I hated him with a passion so intense, so definite, that when he called, I cringed. I became angry when I heard his name. When my daughter spoke of him, I wanted to scream into a pillow.
Almost three years ago, this wretched man that I had hated for so long - he killed himself.
The first few days, I held strong to my hatred.
But as it turned out, he did have a soul. As much pain and suffering as he had inflicted onto me, our daughter and my family, it was nothing in comparison to what he had done to himself. As I walked into his memorial service, I was overcome with sympathy for his family. When I looked at the memory boards his sister and cousins made with his childhood photos, my sympathy transformed into empathy.
He was a human being. He was more than that monster that terrorized my family for all of those years. He was a person. A son, a brother, a friend, a cousin, a classmate, a coworker, a choir member - he was MORE than those horrible things he had done.
And I forgave him.