Taking inventory of your life isn’t easy. It’s proved to be quite humbling as I’ve stood in front of the mirror with my entire life reflecting back at me.
My music. My friends. The words I use. How I react to situations. The list of people I’ve wronged. All of those ugly moments we hope no one ever sees.
I’ve lost friends. I’ve gained friends and been thankful for the ones who understand me and are still around. My circle is smaller than ever but the peace I’m feeling is larger than I could have hoped for.
As a single mom in my early thirties, I’ve dated a fair amount. It’s been mostly a series of pathetic first dates that leave me feeling more lonely than when I arrived. However, taking inventory of my life has made me more aware of the people I owed apologies to for things I didn’t handle right. I’ve called people who weren’t expecting my call and I’ve apologized for things that have often left them surprised and confused yet they welcomed my words. However, something was still off.
Then I prayed some more.
No. Don’t tell me I have to apologize to him.
I knew what had to happen. I had to swallow my pride and apologize to my ex-husband and my sons father for leaving SEVEN YEARS AGO.
I prayed for months about this conversation. I sat at every stop light in the city rehearsing exactly what I would say until I could recite it in my sleep. I felt pretty darn good about it! I wanted this conversation to happen. I wanted peace in my life and I felt confident I could handle this.
There I sat in Starbucks and with every door that opened my anxiety level rose. Every well constructed sentence left me and I became more panicked that I would leave our conversation with the regret of not saying what was on my heart. As a writer, I knew jotting down my thoughts would help provide some clarity so off I went. I had twenty minutes to spare and my pen couldn’t keep up with my mind.
A letter to my ex husband:
I’m more nervous waiting on you as I sit in Starbucks than I was for our first date back in 2003. I was a naive college freshman. I’m the one who has called todays meeting. The fact that you have agreed to meet with me is a miracle itself. Why am I nervous? After all, I’m the one who left! I wanted out so badly that I was willing to change the lives of people I claimed to love the most. I am about to deliver the most humbling apology of my life and I don’t think you’re expecting it.
I feel like this is the right thing to do but that isn’t keeping my nerves as calm as I‘d like. Will you hear me out? Will you interrupt me to air your own grievances? Will you trust my sincerity? Will you take advantage of my vulnerability?
Anything and everything is possible today. My motive is pure. I have prayed about this for months. I’ve asked God to speak through me to bring peace for all of us. I’m taking the first step to peace by apologizing. The truth is that I do not want to rekindle with you. I do not want to be disruptive to your marriage. I do not have romantic feelings for you. I‘m asking for your forgiveness and expecting nothing in return.
I‘m sorry that my need to leave our marriage hurt you. I know that it broke you. I was so unhappy I had to leave no matter the cost and I accept that. I’m sorry I broke up our family by walking away.
I’m sorry that my instinctive need to defend myself caused me to be less than transparent with you as we navigated our co-parenting relationship. This led you to fill in the blanks with less than savory ideas of me. I am certainly far from perfect. But I am so far from the cold, calloused and reckless mother you may have thought I‘ve evolved in to.
Together we created the most precious and magical child. I recall dreaming as a young girl of the day I would become a mother to a little boy. The day our son was born, my most intense and pure dream became a reality. You helped make this a reality in my life and for that I am so grateful. I praise God routinely that us, together, were chosen to be his parents.
I am seeking peace in my life but more than anything today I recognize we need healing . Why are we so bitter after so much time when we are the ones who are so blessed? We are the only two people who will even know the panic of when he was born and we didn’t hear him cry. While your words told me everything was fine, our love and concern was unified in our eyes. I’m the only one that will ever know how white your knuckles were as you drove us home from the hospital on that raining day in October.
Why am I seeking this now? I‘ve prayed consistently and specifically. I’ve prayed for peace and clarity. And this conversation is where I‘ve been led. Today I am asking for your forgiveness. What can I do to earn that?
As he sat in front of me, I just couldn’t keep it together. I’m emotionally pretty tough but this owned me. I attempted to read the above letter but failed miserably. After restarting my thoughts three times, I quietly asked him if we could sit in my car. His typical confrontational and domineering stance towards me was no where to be found. Instead I witnessed a compassionate person who gathered my things for me and told me take my time. He listened to every word I said, not interrupting once, and more times than not had tears in his eyes.
When he left my car, I cried again yet for different reasons. I was so thankful he heard me. I was so thankful I was faithful to where my heart had been led. I was annoyed I had ever let anxiety creep back into my thoughts. More than anything I was so relieved for our son! He will always be the winner or the loser of our actions.
For the first time since our divorce, I felt like I had a coparent I could count on. I felt like we were walking the same path with the same goal to raise our son as happy and as healthy as possible regardless of our marital failures.