I got an email this week from HER asking me for my forgiveness. She, the one I referred to as “homewrecker,” the woman that played a part in breaking up my family unit as I knew it. A small, immature part of me wanted to respond immediately with, “Well, isn’t Karma a bitch?” Of course, I didn’t, because as I processed HER words, I realized that I’d forgiven HER long ago…and had moved on.
But what do I say to this person, whom five years ago, with complete disregard or care slept with my (now ex) husband? More than that, she secretly maintained a relationship with him for 18 months, while I let her into my home and my life as a trusted friend.
I read HER words, and I don’t feel anger. I don’t feel pain. There is no bitterness. There is no judgment. No drama. What I feel is something I didn’t think I’d ever feel toward HER, and that is compassion.
He did the same thing to her, she explains, and I understand. I understand HER sorrow. HER sincerity radiates through the screen, and HER pain is palpable within the sentences. Weirdly, I feel a solidarity with HER. I know where she’s at, and she now knows where I’ve been. She, like I, ended up becoming a victim to a man that has no scruples nor integrity, who gave no care to the feelings of others and continues in his wake of infidelity with yet another woman who walked in with her eyes open, blindly. She someday will probably also be writing a letter asking for forgiveness to HER. And the cycle will continue.
So, what do you say to a woman you once loathed, who took part in destroying a family, my family?
Below is the response to her email asking for forgiveness, in its entirety. The only thing I took out was her name. I share it with you now, because it is a large part of my journey, and with hopes that someone may find it useful for their own journey.
I’d have to admit, I’m not surprised to get your apology letter. I knew that one day, at some point, he would also cheat on you. I’m not going to lie, I wished it upon you. Though you weren’t the first, you were the last (at least in my chapter of the story). I hated you for many years, not for ripping apart something that was already irrefutably broken, but because, yes I did trust you as a friend, and that betrayal (and over such a long period of time) was more than I could fathom. I allowed you in as part of my family, sharing the very special days in our lives, which you tried to take for your own.
I realized it would be inevitable that you’d share the same fate as I, and began to feel pity toward you. But the funny thing through this whole process is that after I let it go, I began to feel gratitude toward you. Your actions (along with those of my ex-husband) forced me to move, to get up and finally escape a stale prison that I was in, handcuffed to the false belief that I had to stay with a man who had no respect for me or the institution of marriage, all for the sake of our child. You, in a sense, were the person who held the key to unlocking that cell which kept me captive for so many years. I am the person I am today, because of that freedom.
As you go through the grieving process, mending the heart that he broke, some places will be dark; and there will be parts that will never truly be healed from the damage that he has caused you. That damage will carry into your future relationships; your trust will be tentatively given and tenuous at best, but will never really be whole again. Someday, you’ll find someone and while he may be fully yours, you will always have that little doubt in your head, the constant struggle of wondering if he is being truthful, if he is going about behind your back…if, if, if. It will take a patient man to deal with the insecurity that will plague you, maybe forever.
On top of that, I know you also have to deal with the damage you yourself caused, for which I have no expertise in. I will say that I’ve forgiven you long ago. I had to so that I could move on with my life, figure out who I was and become the woman I wanted to be. Yes, you were selfish, but do you deserve the hurt that you now are suffering? Part of me wants to say yes, but the other part of me thinks that no woman should ever have to go through the pain of betrayal, the pain of not ever fully being able to trust someone again, and the pain of self-doubt. No one deserves to be treated the way he treated you, or I. You deserve to be with a man that is faithful and devoted to only you, a man of character and integrity, who loves you, is free to love you, and loves only you.
The irony in it all is that through this, you’ll find a level of self-respect that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Life is funny. I’ve always wondered what I’d say to you if I had the chance, but I’ve never really thought about how I would feel. Would it be triumph? Victory? Bitterness? Anger? Relief? It’s none of those. Mostly, I feel sadness for you. Certainly, there is some satisfaction in knowing that you now know what it’s like to be the jilted one, but what you’re feeling now, the sense of betrayal, the hurt, the anger, the confusion, the lack of self-worth – it is not a feeling I would ever wish on anyone, not even the one who wronged me.
I hope that you learn to let go of the anger and pain you feel toward HER and move on. Someday, you too may get a letter, asking you to forgive.
You’ll grow from this experience, the pain will mold you and shape you for the next chapter of your life. I truly hope that it is for the better.