Breaking Point: #5

I am hosting an end-of-winter series featuring stories from the trenches of pain.  My hope is that in sharing these breaking points, we will feel less alone.  Thank you all for your bravery.  You are helping the world to heal.  To participate and for more info go here.

yrs. Laura

Today we have two stories, one of breaking, one of healing.

Breaking Point

Submitted by: Anonymous

In life we all have what we may consider to be broken moments, and certainly when we look back through our lives, we see times which, whilst we didn’t realise it at the time, appear to have been devastatingly painful.  I look back at the last three years of my father’s life and wonder why on earth I wasn’t there to support my parents when they were going through the most difficult of times.  But those times were their broken moments and during those times, I had left home, started my career, married life and a new family.  I lived some two hundred miles away and, I know that isn’t too far, but we get caught up trying to follow our own paths.

My own broken moment which sent me reeling into what felt like myriad broken moments which would never stop breaking me down, happened on Friday 20th May 2011.  My husband of almost twenty-one years told me on that day at about 2pm in the afternoon that our marriage was over.

We were at work, in his office, we work in the same school, he is a teacher, I’m one of the librarians.  He told me that we couldn’t carry on being married, his feelings for another were too strong for him to ignore and that he would leave me and our two daughters as soon as he could find somewhere else to stay.  He had intimated to me a couple of weeks beforehand that he had started to have feelings for this third party but had sworn there and then, seeing my reaction of fear, loss and desperation, that we could try and work out what went wrong between us, that he would be completely committed to trying to find a journey that we could take together in the future and look after our girls.  That commitment lasted for about a week and then, when he saw the object of his desire, he knew that he didn’t want me.  It tookhim a further four or five days to tell me that it was the end.

After this devastating revelation, I was distraught and he took me home.  I was anxious about telling the children and my family what was happening.  The girls, unsurprisingly, took the news extremely badly and we are still very wary of thinking too much about the future and what it brings.  They are trying to rebuild their friendship with their Dad, as well as trust and confidence in him.  They are twelve and sixteen years of age.  It’s difficult to be faced with this situation at any time of life but with one entering puberty and the other about to sit some important exams, it’s been exceedingly hard for them.  Just when we, or rather I (the girls had long since established this fact), had finally accepted that he wasn’t going to return and had established his new life, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward about forty miles away as the doctor was worried he may commit suicide.  What he’d done finally hit home and, realizing that his children no longer wanted to see him or have him in their lives, was too unbearable for him.  I think he also realized what he’d done to me.  He survived this experience and we are currently trying to find a way forward, either together or separately.  We are all still here, thankful for sunny days and trying to enjoy moments which are not broken but fulfilling and peaceful.

 

“Healing in Relationships”

Submitted by: Don Stifler

All of a sudden we find ourselves in a broken relationship. It could be broken for any number of reasons. We may have caused it or we could be just the recipients of someone else’s issues. Regardless of who initiated this failure, we experience many feelings such as:

Anger

Hurt

Betrayal

Guilt

Loss of Self Esteem

A need for revenge

And too many more to list.

 

Forgiveness is confusing to many of us. What makes it confusing is we think that we need to condone the actions of others in order to forgive. Nothing is further from the truth. Forgiveness rarely addresses condoning the transgression. In fact the person or persons we may be forgiving
rarely understand our ability to forgive. Forgiveness is for the forgiver. We cannot really forgive another unless we can forgive ourselves.

Forgiving ourselves can be difficult if we feel we are the victim and have done nothing wrong.

Christ says “Forgive your Neighbor as you Forgive Yourself.” Boy, this is hard if you feel you have been wronged.

Think about this, “Life is a Participation Sport” It takes two to dance, there must be two to separate. Rarely can you slice a piece of bread so thin that there are not two sides to it.

Looking within can be a good place to start our recovery. Whether we feel we had a part in the failure of the relationship or not we muststart the process of forgiving ourselves. It all starts here with us. It does not involve the other party. We must address what we control and nothing else.

Every minute of every day God is there to love us and forgive, even if we really blew it. Should we do any less? In our humanity we make errors. Even if on purpose, we are allowed to ask for forgiveness. Therefore, this becomes the first KEY to Healing in Relationships.

The ability to forgive ourselves. It is not an option, it is a must. Christ did not say 7 times, He said 7 times 70. It becomes a time to remove our ego and ask for forgiveness of our own deeds known or unknown. A short prayer will start the process.

“Dear Lord, I ask your forgiveness for all that is known and unknown about my situation. Help to open my eyes and my heart to myself and to your love and forgiveness. Help me to accept responsibility for whatever actions or lack thereof that could have cause this riff and give me the strength to move forward in a more compassionate way with integrity and purpose and forgiveness of myself to allow me to offer forgiveness to others. Amen”

Joseph Girzone, the author, of the book “Joshua” and “Never Alone” described a process to help with forgiving. “If you can put yourself in the position of the one who is hurting you and realize the anguish they are going thru in their life at that moment, you can allow Anger to be replaced by Compassion, and with compassion can come forgiveness.

As stated above, when we forgive the person it does not mean we must condone their actions; it just means we forgive for forgiveness sake alone. Forgiveness is really a personal act to allow us to be free. When we forgive we do it for our reasons not the other persons. Often times they do not even understand our act of forgiveness and sometimes if they do it blows their mind.

My brother mentioned this when I was going through a divorce. He said Don do you want to be free. I said yes and he said the only way to be free is to forgive my spouse and her lover, my best friend. I chewed on this and worked through the forgiveness process. I was hurt, angry, felt betrayed. At that point it was not about me and all about them. But I wanted to be free and move on. So I sent each a letter stating my wish to forgive them and in fact I was forgiving them. I wasn’t condoning what had happened but I was forgiving them for what happened and at the same time was forgiving myself for any participation I had in creating this situation. Of course at the time, I felt blameless, but it sounded good. So in reality I had not done the whole job, because I held myself outside the situation.

This played on my mind. As I pondered this forgiveness thing I came to face my responsibility as a party to this situation, simply by not being stronger in developing my own relationship with my spouse. Once I realized this, I could truly forgive. My brother was right it blew their minds but I did not cause that or wish that.

I realized that nice people could make mistakes. These had nothing to do with me personally. They felt bad and guilty. I learned the value of compassion rather than anger. I did not have to take this as a personal attack on me. In effect I did not walk in their shoes.

I learned we do not control another soul. That the only way we have something is to be able to let it go. We can only be a magnet that attracts not one that hold and smothers.

By opening up to the prospect of forgiveness and compassion in any situation allows one to be very free. People want to be around me because I respect their freedom and space. This process was not without pain, sorrow, loss, but it was with tremendous growth and allows me to be the person I am supposed to be. Healed, loving and happy. I am a better person today. I learn from life and grow. The world of would of, could of or should of does not exist in my life. This is the moment. Learn from the past don’t live in the past.

Finally, my relationship with a loving god has made this all possible. I would not pretend to be able to do this alone

DJS

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under Breaking Point, My Posts

8 Responses to Breaking Point: #5

  1. B. Schoeller

    Both of these pieces are so beautiful, and relate so well to each other. My heart goes out to Anonymous, for I have walked some of the path you describe, sheltering two daughters along the way. And I am inspired by the essay on forgiveness. To forgive is one of the greatest gifts, I feel – even more so for the one who is choosing to forgive than for the recipient. It is such an empowering and gracious act, and this essay exhibits that so well.
    Bravo to you both!

    • Sarah

      Thank you so much for your response. Since I wrote about my breaking point, my husband has decided to return to this other person and I feel betrayed and hurt, but calm because I feel that maybe this is the right path and we are not meant to be together any more. I am thinking that maybe one day I will be able to forgive but I’m not quite ready for that yet. I am worried that his decision will cause him to be low again because he didn’t expect the reaction of our daughters to his decision to be as strong and against him as it has been. They feel that he chose this other person over them and that they mean less to him than she does. I don’t have the strength or resources at the moment to help him again. I hope that this will make him stronger this time.

  2. MS. Friendswood, TX

    Thank you Don for sharing your forgiveness essay. I am working on forgiving myself for giving our young newly independent son the “wrong” financial advise. He came to me for help in making a choice on which health insurance package to enroll in. We looked it over together and decided on the lower premium choice because that is what he thought he could afford on his meager weekly income. We were so happy he had found a full time job that offered health insurance and a wage he could “support” himself with. A year and a major medical event later, he has opted for the higher weekly premium to fully cover him from any future major medical needs. As we understand now, that is the reason you buy health insurance, for the big stuff. Advise: take the best health insurance coverage you are offered. Do without other necessities. And ask questions on the insurance oddities you may not understand. $75,ooo per year limitation means you will only be covered for up to that amount and no more, even when your medical bills reach toward the sky as in a life threatening auto accident. Your life is saved, but your debt is not. We are extremely grateful for his miraculous recovery and have learned from these financial life lessons. Forgiveness I hope will follow.

    • Donald J Stifler

      MS, Friendswood, TX
      Sometimes in life it is easier to forgive someone else rather than ourselves. Life gives us the opportunity to make choices. We do that based upon the facts available at the time and what the statistics may be for loss at a certain age. Based upon the facts you state most people would make the choice you and your son made. I have an extensive background in insurance and actuarial statistics. Your choice would have been correct in probably 95-98 percent of the circumstances. Live in the joy of your son”s recovery. You don”t say how much extra debt was incurred but there are ways to negotiate that over time or even have it reduced drastically. Seek guidance in this area. History cannot be changed I hope you find the way to let whatever you think requires forgiveness to be released. A wise friend once said to me in life there is pain and suffering. The pain is when something happens, the suffering is the story being retold over and over. Put the story on the shelf, Live and embrace the moment. Good luck as you process this.
      Blessings
      Don

  3. Alison

    Don, you are one seriously cool dude to have been able to forgive your wife and best friend. I don’t know that I could manage that one. I forgave my father for some pretty terrible abuse and it was the most freeing thing that ever happened to me. I’ve been working on forgiving my mother, but I’m not all the way there yet. Your writing this has been inspiring to me. Thank you.

  4. Don stifler

    Alison,
    One of the advantages of aging is the welcome realization of the release of ego.it traps our feeling so often and hinders are ability to process our surroundings with compassion. I stumble and fall daily and the first person I forgive is myself. Why, because I didn’t really plan to stumble, it just happened. This happens with all the people in our lives. Remember if you forgive you are not condoning what happened you are just releasing yourself from the incident. It is so freeing. Parents are imperfect at times just as we are and your mother has nothing to do with your forgiveness, only you do. Let go and enjoy the freedom. In life there is pain and suffering. The pain occurs when something happens, the suffering occurs when we continue to retell the story of what happened. I would not want to die and have missed any opportunity to forgive. I pray for your strength in addressing this with your mom.
    Blessings
    Don

  5. Sarah,

    As a teacher, the details of your older daughter being on the verge of taking exams and the other being on the verge of puberty…those are such defining moments/times, and it astounds me that somehow, these were overlooked by their father, as he thought his choice was most important. I don’t mean to add fuel to the fire, or to judge…I guess it’s just the blinders people choose to wear…I don’t get it. Thank you so much for sharing your piece.

    Natasha
    —————-
    Don,

    I never thought about forgiveness in the way that you have…in that you don’t have to condone what the other person has done in order to forgive them…and that’s really because you’re letting that person/his actions go in order to free yourself, right? Hmm. Thank you for giving me a new way to frame this concept.

    Natasha

    • Sarah

      Thank you, Natasha, for your supporting words, I do agree with you, my husband could have thought more about the needs of our girls at the moment when he chose to leave and now, with his most recent decision, as they are entering these crucial stages in their lives. We have been lucky, this past weekend, to enjoy some glorious weather and have been able to walk in a local forest, absorb some fresh air and plan to do much more of this as time goes by, lovely! We will savour these times and do our very best to carry on…

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