Quite some time after the last incident, where the police were called, where I was threatened and scared in a way which no person should ever feel within their home, a safe haven from the world, I found myself facing an opportunity to say my peace and release the weight of the final bit of baggage. My ex-husband was picking up the children when he sent them to the car because he wanted to talk. I felt an instant overwhelming sense of anxiety, fear and foreboding. This is the first time I have been alone in his presence since the final explosion. While we had met in public or within the security of my attorney’s office and he had even had a police escort to remove some of his possessions from my home, I had not found myself unprotected facing a situation, which could result in any outcome. Living with someone who has PTSD and goes through the cycle one becomes hyper vigilant. While I was unable to avoid the outbursts and had no control over it, I became very good at prognostication. Having been outside of that environment I no longer had an understanding his current emotional state and was also forced back into the fear I had lived with for so many years. I found myself almost overcome with fear.
He wanted to say me “You know, I don’t hate you” as if it were some way of offloading a bit of guilt. As if it were to say ALL I did was not a result of my hatred for you, as if he were expecting me to take responsibility for the infidelity, physical and emotional abuse. It seemed as if the statement was a self-serving act to again have some sort of control over a situation,in this case my life, in which he was no longer involved. I was utterly shocked. How does one respond to that? Was he really standing on my front porch expecting me to say that’s ok, no worries, or feel free to not be accountable for all of your actions. At that moment I was faced with how I would respond. All the thoughts of how I may have caused the relationship issues, of my accountability and interactions in the situation, of the importance of forgiveness had actually culminated into this? That was not even an apology. I noticed I was also assessing my physical safety if I did choose to respond. At that moment, almost an imperceptible split second I decided I should respond with all I had which were the facts.
I had the courage to say, “While you may not hate me, you have never loved me. You did not once treat me as if I were a person you valued or respected.” For I had learned many years ago that the opposite of love is not hate it is apathy. He had spent our entire marriage on the spectrum between hatred and apathy. At that moment I realized there would never be an apology, never an acknowledgement of the destructive behavior yet I no longer needed one either. I was at peace in that moment.
“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict – alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.”