If I can do it, so can you.
When I published “To the Other Woman, from Someone Less Enlightened.” just over a year ago, I didn’t expect to have anything more to say about it. I was angry; my anger was powerful; I liked it that way.
And indeed, that anger carried me through a lot of grief, and it helped me find my feet. For a long time, I did not, in fact, have anything more to say about it.
Several months ago, however, something started to shift. I didn’t want to be angry anymore.
I mulled that over for a good many weeks, and then I sent a note. I don’t know if she ever saw it, but I think it is important to share with others who may think that anger—fire and passion and a damn good read—was the beginning and the end of that story.
As I once wrote, anger is an incredibly powerful tool in our toolbox. It can burn away everything so we may start again. It can cause the world to turn. It can give us wings—for a short while. It is purifying, energizing, catalyzing. It is good to know how to embrace it.
But we cannot carry it forever. It’s too heavy for that, and one day it will burn our hands if we don’t set it down.
So I set mine down.
A year ago, I could not imagine forgiving anyone. A year ago, I was very much content to keep burning, gloriously. It was all well and good—for a while—but the time comes to breathe life into other, more productive fires.
If I managed, I think you can too. I’m no more enlightened than before, but I am a little bit lighter now. Here’s how I finally lay my anger to rest.
1) I decided I was ready. It’s impossible to forgive or move on without deciding we actually want to.
2) I finally confronted the object of my anger. This is a tough one for those of us who hate confrontation, but often necessary. This is an abridged version of the letter I actually sent:
I didn’t think I would ever want to talk to you again, but I was wrong. I’m ready to close this chapter of my life, and I don’t want to bring you with me into the next one. I think in order to leave you there, I need to say this. You don’t have to answer.
I’ve been angry at you for almost a year now, but I think I’m finally ready to leave that behind. It’s funny how things have a way of telling us it’s time to let them go. Your name came up a few times last week—sheer coincidence. It shouldn’t upset me, and actually, it finally doesn’t… I’m a slow healer, evidently.
My relationship had plenty of problems. What happened with you was a symptom, and maybe ultimately a catalyst, but it wasn’t the illness.
I want a complete ending. I don’t want to carry my anger–or you–any further. I’m leaving both here.
So that’s it. I wish you peace, and I wish you love—
May it be of benefit.
Author: Toby Israel
Image: laura betancourt/Flickr