I Was A Terrible Wife — How I Finally Asked My Ex-Husband For Forgiveness

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Woman asking ex for forgiveness

My ex-husband is an amazing guy. Terrific. Salt of the Earth, incredible person. We were together for ten years, and we have a daughter together who passed away from SIDS twenty years ago.

The woman I became after she passed, I speak of her often. I was an oxycodone junkie, a functional alcoholic, and a complete mess-up for years. I ruined two marriages, both to great guys. I had nothing left inside me, so I threw pills into the canyon and tried to pretend that I was trying to live, that I was in any way gripping firmly on functionality.

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I wouldn’t have put up with me.

I was chaos. I was estructive and simultaneously barely keeping it together, and I treated my ex-husband like the enemy. Not just in the capacity of a marriage, but later, when he really could have used my friendship. I feel I’m fortunate I can’t remember a lot of it because I was constantly messed up beyond all recognition. I stayed that way for eight or nine years, and who knows how many shenanigans I pulled during that time.

I am glad I don’t remember many of them, that the oxycodone body blocked for me, and kept me in a haze that doubled as a lifejacket. I couldn’t handle the weight of my sorrow. It was an iron albatross.

I’ve been told stories of some of the more spectacular displays of stupidity. Not my proudest moments and the way I treated my ex-husband can make me cry anytime I think about it.



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And yet, even still, I’m the one who left him.

For years, he just took it. He loved me in the most absolute unconditional fashion. It was just disguised as an everyday marriage, but he thought I was the smartest woman he knew. He was proud of me and he believed in me.

I’ve never really had that kind of love since and I’m resigned to the fact that I wasted what I was given. Some people never find that kind of love even once.

I write a column every year on our daughter’s birthday. Some years, I fare better than others, but last year wasn’t one of them. I sent my ex-husband the column, and we had some back-and-forth conversation. Two messages in, and I was surer than I’ve ever been leaving him was a bad decision. 

He was genuine and kind because he can’t not be. He’s probably the only person I can truly say I know as I know myself, and he doesn’t have any malice inside him. He’s beautiful, inside and out. In real life, not filtered or with an audience. Just think of the best human you know, and I assure you, my ex-husband is of that caliber.

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I don’t have any secrets anymore.

I will openly admit to the fact I was a terrible wife. After our daughter passed, I knew only pain when I looked at her dad, and I’m certain it was the same for him, but he never weaponized it. I behaved as though words couldn’t wound people. As though I didn’t know the weight of the things I was saying and the destructive behaviors I was engaging in.

I was a complete jerk to that man. I don’t deserve forgiveness. Even still, he gave it. Because that’s who he is — not because I should have it.

There was a time in my life when I justified the atrocious behavior that blew up my life, I tried to pretend as though I was giving life a fair shake. But the truth is: I died when my daughter died and my marriage slowly bled out, too. 

After all of the years of holding on, waiting for me to return to my mind, he let me go. Then, he moved on. He remarried, had another daughter, and lived the life that we were supposed to live.

I turned into a shell of myself a little more every day, too high to feel much, but not high enough to understand the meaning of the cards I held in my hand. I only knew that my ex was free of the sorrow and the memories, and I would stay frozen in this broken has-been suit until I was turned to dust.

I would take it all. I would live and die alone, stuck in a life I no longer recognized with memories I couldn’t trust to my habits. But he was free. And he looked so happy, while I was dying slowly.

But I could carry the weight alone — it's the least I could do. I owed him much more. I still do, but he’s never been the type to keep score. 

I’m still just as selfish but I have heard the way I spoke to him in my mind so many times, oddly, harsher every replay. I wanted a million times or more to say that I was at fault, that I ruined us, that he was so much better.

I have said the words before — I'm sorry — or some version of them, but this time, I felt every word I said in my soul. I told him in words that I didn’t edit or polish. I just needed him to know. And he forgave me. And now, I’m going to try to learn to forgive myself.



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April Hawkins is an author, columnist, activist, and poet. She is regularly featured at The Good Men Project, Ellemeno on Medium, and Hubpages.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.