The latest venom my ex-husband spat via email was, “I won’t be wasting another minute of my life trying to explain something to you.” This came after I asked simple and reasonable questions regarding the split of our financial lives. You see, he’s a financial advisor. This is his area of expertise, and, foolishly or faithfully, I let him have control over it since before we were even married. Money has always been high on the list of things he loves.
And so here I am at 37 and I haven’t done my own taxes for 12 years. I didn’t even know how much money we had, or where it was located, until I decided I needed to leave this marriage. I have always respected money, but it was never on the list of things I loved.
And now, after orders have been handed down by a judge proceeding a lengthy and costly trial, we are finally separating the last part of our entangled, paper lives. Logically, there are things I still need to know, details to sort out, and just like everything else up to this point, he refuses to be a catalyst for moving forward, still stuck in a need to punish, to hate, to impose revenge.
And yet, he’s the father of the two people I love most in this world, and he will be until the day I die. They love him, and so I too must find a way not to hate him.
The only way I know how to do this is to remind myself of his humanity. Some days, when the venom flows and my daughter tells me that she no longer wants a kitten because daddy says I won’t take care of it, the effort it takes to remind myself of his humanity feels like slogging through quicksand. Even so, I take a deep breath and force myself to honor and respect this person who does not respect me, who, I have no doubt, would smile upon learning I had a terminal illness and find joy in any misfortune which might befall me.
This is the most challenging thing I have ever had to do. It stretches my capacity for compassion and then forces me to stretch further, deeper, down to the bottom of everything I have until some days, I am all but empty.
It requires a daily practice of remembering over and over and over that he is simply a human being. He is fallible. He is blind in so many ways – just like we all are from time to time – to what really matters in this life. And that is another thing I must practice daily: reminding myself over and over what really matters in this life.
And so I have come to realize that his hatred of me is actually a blessing. I get to remember over and over what I love, what deserves my love, and the power that love contains.
These children, they taught me what love is and what it is not. The love I feel for them, it humbles me, it reduces me to my elements. It feels like those pictures you see of galaxies far, far away; unimaginably expansive, mystically beautiful, mysteriously familiar. This love is elegantly simple, and intricately layered, and has no comprehensible outer edge. It contains all the elements of the universe.
It is the strongest thing I know and it is what I’ve come to understand as the most important thing in this life. And the truth is, just like the stars it has immense power. It will give you strength to do the unimaginable. It will even make you pray for your enemies. And so I do. And so I do.
Related post: An Open Apology To My Kids On The Subject Of My Divorce