12. Forgiving the Unforgivable

12. Forgiving the Unforgivable

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiving the Unforgivable

The things that people in love do to each other they remember, and if they stay together it’s not because they forget, it’s because they forgive.

~Author Unknown

What is forgiveness? Why do we find it so hard to forgive? These questions were hard for me to understand until the events that started one Tuesday morning. Any other day, I would have been waking up to prepare for school, but that day I had a dentist appointment. My mom usually took me, but on this day my dad sat in the driver’s seat, my mom nowhere to be found. As I began to wonder what was going on, in a shaky voice he began to talk.

“Your mother has left to go to your aunt’s for a couple of weeks,” he said. When I asked why, he began to cry as he told me the same story of his affair that he had told her the night before. Only thirteen at the time, I was shocked and devastated at the thought of having to choose between my mom and dad and possibly never being a family again.

Very little was said throughout the next two weeks. It was like time had stopped. Everything was in slow motion. Nothing felt right without Mom there. The middle school drama that had affected me before no longer mattered. I suddenly realized what was really important.

I wanted so badly to hate my father for what he had done to our family! I wanted to shut him out and hurt him the way he hurt us. But when I looked into his eyes, I saw that I didn’t have to. I knew he would deal with the guilt for the rest of his life, and it was not my place to judge him or hate him. After all, he was my dad.

I chose to forgive him, not because it was easy, but because he needed it and I knew it was what I needed to do. I wanted him to see that even through his biggest mistakes and failures I still loved him just like he would me. That is what family is all about. I could not handle seeing his tears or the hurt in his eyes.

When my mother finally came home I was very happy to see her, but I was also just as scared as when she had left. I didn’t know if she was coming home to stay or coming home to say she was leaving for good this time.

I could tell she had missed me too as she walked through the door and tears flowed down her face. I saw love and hurt at the same time. I had never seen my mother like that and it frightened me. The strong woman she had always been seemed so frail and broken. Nevertheless, she told us she was going to try to make it work. I was relieved, but it was not the end of the story, as I had hoped—it was only the beginning.

I watched her cry for months; I saw the pain in her eyes every day. She had to wear waterproof make-up because the tears became a normal, everyday occurrence. My dad tried and tried to make it right and to show her love, but it wasn’t until she completely forgave him that the tears slowly stopped. Carrying the weight of his betrayal was hard on her until she just let it go. It took years to build their relationship back, but it is even stronger now and they have grown from their experience. My dad treats my mother like a princess, even to this day, as she deserves. He has worked to earn her love and trust since the day she came home.

Seeing my mom go through this taught me so much about forgiveness. I cannot imagine the pain of being betrayed by the one person she loved and trusted with all her heart. To have that completely torn apart, but be strong enough to start over and rebuild that trust takes a special person. My mom taught me how strong forgiveness really is by her actions. It’s not easy to forgive, but she has shown me it is possible and it is worth it.

~Sheridan Kee

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