2 weeks ago, I sent a letter in the mail. That’s right, good old snail mail.
I hadn’t sent an actual letter in quite a long time, but for this particular situation I felt it was the best way to send the words I needed to express.
This was an important letter. Maybe one of the most important letters I’ve ever sent, or will ever.
This was a letter of true and genuine forgiveness… to my ex.
Between Both Worlds
I started to write this letter last year actually. I had this really cool epiphany about it while I was in Sintra, Portugal , last October.
At the bottom of the Initiation Well at Quinta Da Regaleira , I was on top of the tiled symbol of a compass overlapping a Knights of the Templar cross, which was thought to have been Monteiro’s herald and a sign of his Rosicrucianism.
The cross has many different symbolic meanings behind it historically; I see it symbolizing finding one’s truth.
There were 9 platforms we descended on the stairwell, which these represent the 9 circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno. Unlike in the story, I don’t believe we were to “abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
The 9 platforms also represent the 9 Spheres of Heaven, from Dante’s Paradiso.
So standing there, between the 9 Spheres of Heaven and the 9 Circles of Hell, you are meant to reflect on your life and your purpose. It is a place you are equally between both ends of the spectrum, and you contemplate the disconnection between earth and the heavens as you peer up to the sky from the darkness below; and also feel the haunting closeness of hell as you are so consumed in the darkness.
As I stared up towards the light, my eyes following the curving stairs upwards towards the open sky above, I wondered what truth I was still searching for. I was drawn to the light above me, but I also felt a heaviness lurking within me that connected me to the dark tunnels of the labyrinth that surrounded where I was.
There were lots of tourists in there with us that day in the well, but for that brief moment I felt like I was completely alone, and was hit with the overwhelming epiphany that if I was to ever feel fully connected back to the light at the top of my own life’s tower, I would need to let go of what was weighing me down to the depths of it.
And that weight, was forgiveness.
I needed to let go of the bitterness and the resentment of what had happened in my past, to truly let myself heal from the pain completely.
While taking the train the next day from Sintra to Lagos, I pulled out my phone and started working on what I wanted to express in this letter.
I’ll be honest, the first few drafts I typed up on my phone were not very positive. In fact, I still only really wanted to convey some pretty bitter sentiments.
So, I deleted what I had and didn’t think about it again, until about a month ago when I was in Rwanda. With all the changes I am working towards making in my life, this idea of forgiveness resurfaced.
To me, it doesn’t seem possible to be able to fully move forward with any aspect of my life until I do officially forgive my ex husband… even though the idea of it sounds impossible.
How can I possibly forgive him for everything that happened?
Writing It Out
When I returned from Rwanda, I got to my apartment at about 2:30 am MST. We had traveled for almost 40 hours and I was beyond exhausted, not to mention a little delirious. But the problem was, I had to be to work in about 5 hours and I was worried if I went to sleep that I would never wake up for work.
So, crazy me, decided to just stay up.
I did all my laundry from the trip, tidied up my room, binged some Netflix, and finally took a luxurious shower.
By that point it was almost 6, and I was struggling to stay awake. Needing something to do to keep myself occupied and alert, I drafted my forgiveness letter. It was probably the best time I could have written it, because I was in such a delirious state of mind that I had no inhibitions and I wrote freely from the heart.
I was surprised with that I said, and how naturally it felt to write out such forgiving words to someone who had completely broken me.
But also surprising… was how much relief and weight I felt lifted from me just from writing them.
What To Do With It Now
Initially, I never intended to send the letter. I wrote it out for me, to release the toxic emotions from inside me and let them go.
But, as the days went by and I continued to look over the letter… I felt a strong urge to actually mail it.
I wondered if maybe he needed to know that I forgave him; maybe to help him on his own journey of recovery from his past and from his addictions.
I’m sure maybe some of you will argue that he didn’t deserve forgiveness, and that it was stupid for me to give it to him. But I think (depending on the situation obviously…) everyone deserves a chance to be forgiven. Who am I to choose who does and doesn’t forgiveness?
Back when I first left him, and was living in my dad’s basement, the nights were long and painful. I literally felt as if my chest was going to explode open and the shards of my broken heart would tear through the walls of the house.
In my moments of what I can only express as absolute Godly sorrow, the only thing I could do to find relief was to crawl to my knees and pray for peace and strength. But in those moments of some of the worst emotional pain, I surprised myself by not praying for myself, but praying for him…
I knew ultimately I would survive the pain. I had family and friends who loved me and supported me locally and all over the country. I had survived and escaped the depths of my own personal hell, and I knew I would recover and resurface from those dark moments. But for him, I wasn’t sure what would happen, or what he might do in his very fragile emotional existence at that point in time.
I knew it wasn’t my responsibility to take care of him or enable his addictions any longer, but I still loved him and I hoped he would survive me leaving. So I did the only thing I could do in that moment, and I prayed for him – I sincerely, and whole heartedly begged God to help him, and to give me the peace of mind to not worry about him anymore because I literally and physically couldn’t handle it anymore- and it was mercifully lifted from me.
The urge to mail this letter lingered within my thoughts, but in a good way not a bad one. I knew I needed to send it, maybe more so for him than for me. But whatever the reason was, I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
So… I mailed it. Without a return address.
I’ll never really know if he received it, or if he even read it. But all I know is I feel the peace in my heart now where bitterness used to reside. I decided to forgive, because holding onto it all would never allow me to move forward. There is so much hate and negativity in the world right now, I didn’t want to harbor any of that inside my own heart for anyone.
I think my ex needed the letter too. Even if he never reads the letter, at least my good intentions are out there in the universe, and maybe will help guide him on a better path.
All in all, I never hated him – I hated his disease, his addictions. I hated the choices he made, but I never hated him.
Truly, I hope he can find his way to sobriety and recovery. Just like everyone else, he deserves to live a happy life. And I honestly, genuinely hope he can find that happiness.
I may have forgiven him of everything, but I will never forget it. The fact is those things have changed and shaped me and my life into what it is now, and that’s something I will never be able to ignore. I am forever altered and changed because of it all.
I can’t say I’m grateful for what I’ve been through, as some people tend to say after a big trial; but I am grateful to have realized my true strengths and seen my ability to survive whatever is going to get thrown at me.
And the most beautiful thing out of this is, I can no longer claim that my heart is dead inside like I used to joke about all the time… because I finally allowed it to be revived to open itself to forgive the person who had deadened it in the first place. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, this is it.
I won’t share the letter completely, because most of it is too personal. But, I will share this section that struck me after it came out of my heart and onto the paper:
“Despite all of it, a part of me will always love you, because the heart can’t just erase what was real, true love; even if it was not meant to last forever. And it is because of that, I have been able to come to the place where I am now, to tell you something that I think both of us need:
I forgive you.
I hope someday you can forgive me too, for the ways I’ve hurt you and wronged you as well. I hope one day you can understand why I had to leave, and I hope you will always remember that I loved you.
Go be happy, because that’s all I ever wanted for you; even if it wasn’t with me. Most importantly, love yourself and forgive yourself – of everything in your past and finally let it go. Because you do deserve to be happy.”
Forgiveness is a powerful, incredible thing.
What is most important about it, is that choosing to forgive someone – even someone who has hurt you and broken you – allows us to break free from the darkness that can weigh us down, and prevents their choices and behaviors from destroying our hearts.
If you take anything away from my ramblings, choose to work towards forgiving someone that’s hurt you, and let it go. Even choose to forgive yourself. I’m working on that part myself, everyday.